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Davis Journal

Kaysville City hires lobbyists to help them obtain federal and state funds

Oct 06, 2022 11:37AM ● By Cindi Mansell

Did you know that cities and towns hire lobbyists to push back against state laws that limit their jurisdiction? With so much legislation being introduced at the state level, local governments can have a challenging time finding the time to be there and represent their interests. Other reasons can include all levels of government that affect their entity, such as unemployment, homelessness, infrastructure, housing, public safety, budget, transportation, and education. Lobbyists can also help local governments pursue funding from the state and federal levels for various projects.

Lincoln Shurtz and Kerry Gibson of the firm Lincoln Hill Partners provided the Kaysville City Council with a Legislative Lobbying update at their September 1, 2022 meeting. Kaysville City hired the firm in 2021 to help them in its legislative endeavors. Their efforts have already paid off because the firm helped Kaysville in obtaining $1,000,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to develop their fiber network in the city.

Shurtz said in 2022, the legislature appropriated an added $50,000,000 for matching grants. That window opens September 20 and they have been working with City Manager Shayne Scott and other staff to identify water projects to make applications. He said the program includes $25,000,000 in grants and $25,000,000 in loans. The application window will be open for seven days and funds should be awarded late this fall/before the end of the calendar year. He said Kaysville was successful in the first round to develop their fiber network and he hoped the same would hold true when pursuing the water project opportunity.

Shurtz said there seems to be broad political support to figure out a way to invest in local transportation. This includes concepts being considered by the Unified Economic Opportunity Commission such as a delivery fee imposed on any at-home delivery (Amazon, Uber Eats, Grub Hub, etc.). This would tack on an added fee that would then go to support local road infrastructure because delivery impact comes to local government as they drive down local streets. Shurtz said Utah is considering a .25 cent charge and hoping for somewhere between $200,000,000 and $250,000,000 that could be returned to municipalities and counties for investment in infrastructure.

Shurtz said homelessness would be a significant concern during the 2023 session and include the need for Davis County to figure out how “shoulder counties” can take part in helping these problems. He said he is unsure as to what this may include but is a topic to watch closely as they look for broader participation and aid.

Shurtz said there have been shifts in the state’s economic development strategy in that they have typically invested in job creation. Governor Cox’s administration is now looking at ways to focus on the quality versus number of jobs in specific sectors to foster that innovative approach into economic development within the state. The Lincoln Hill firm will collaborate closely with the Governor’s staff as well as considerations for local government and state approach to local development. 

Gibson discussed the process of meeting with city staff often to gain understanding of where the city would like to go as well as the Council desires. He said the staff is wonderful to work with and the job becomes more of matching desires with opportunities that may arise. He said he is excited and optimistic about opportunities within the next few years, and this is a wonderful time when both House and Senate leadership want to see northern Utah grow and succeed. 

Gibson discussed current water and drought issues and said the Legislature understands there must be both development opportunities as well as conservation. He said “there has not been a major water project for half a century in Utah and that will have to change. There is no question that state policy and good common sense would prevail before spending funds on projects.” He said state agencies intend to collaborate closely with federal delegations and agencies, as the focus over the last few years has been on conservation and opportunities to conserve. 

Gibson discussed the retrofit requirement for every secondary water meter in the state by 2025 and said there is so much science behind metering secondary water use. He said metering and comparison to peers can change behavior when it comes to water use. He said $225,000,000 had been appropriated in the last legislative session and has been completely distributed to agencies that can now go forward and retrofit/install meters. He said Utah is unique in that they have secondary water systems, which saves money in water treatment costs, but the real opportunity now is to figure out how to conserve and do better. He said no doubt, Utah will be talking about water for years to come. 

The City Council discussed that although they do not directly service secondary water/metering within the city, they would support the various companies that do offer services to their residents. City users would be paying these bills if they increase, and providers are not able to fund the metering systems themselves.

By hiring a lobbyist, government entities can get a seat at the table and have their voices heard. With governmental procedures sometimes being slow and taking longer than desired, lobbyists can speed up the process by influencing key policymakers. In the end, it is about being represented and in front of people that matter. λ