- What is UTOPIA Fiber? UTOPIA Fiber is a state-of-the-art fiber optic network owned by its member communities and built to benefit residents and businesses. UTOPIA’s fiber optic infrastructure carries information at the speed of light. We operate on an open access model which means we own and manage the infrastructure, but lease the lines to private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who then deliver services to subscribers. There are currently 11 pledging cities on the network.
- What is UIA? The Utah Infrastructure Agency (UIA) is an inter-local agency formed in June 2010 with 9 of the 11 original UTOPIA pledging member cities. The UIA was formed as a funding mechanism to continue out the growth of the network.
- Why is Orem involved in the UTOPIA Fiber project? Orem joined UTOPIA because they understood the importance of broadband and how the demand would grow exponentially in the years to come. They also realized how this technology could benefit their community. In 2002, Orem along with 10 other Utah cities formed into an inter-local agreement.
- What is the UTOPIA bond? When UTOPIA first started back in 2002, 11 cities, known as the “pledging” cities, bonded $185 million for construction costs using sales tax pledges as collateral to secure the bond. Unfortunately, due to several factors, UTOPIA is currently not covering the debt service on the bond, but hopes, through subscriber growth, that UTOPIA will start contributing towards this debt in the future.
- What is the UIA bond? UIA is a funding mechanism to finance new build areas for new customers in the UIA member cities. In order to finance the new construction, UIA cities bonded for $65 million. Since its inception, UIA’s revenues have covered all payments on the UIA bond.
- What is the RUS settlement? In 2007, UTOPIA applied for and was approved for loans from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) program. These loans required UTOPIA to submit a construction plan for approval and, once approved, apply for reimbursement. UTOPIA ran into multiple delays in seeking reimbursement before being outright refused any further reimbursement from RUS without explanation. At the time, UTOPIA had $11 million in outstanding construction costs that had not been reimbursed by RUS. UTOPIA has since sued RUS for damages and received a $10 million settlement at the end of 2015. The RUS money is now being used to help fund leases in multiple cities throughout the network.
- How has UTOPIA Fiber improved, and what is UTOPIA Fiber doing to continue to improve? UTOPIA is continuously moving forward and is in the best shape it has ever been in. We have recently hit operational break even, where all operating expenses are now covered by revenues. Between remaining UIA money and the RUS settlement, we have operating capital we can use to expand. People seem to think we’re not building out our network, but we have been expanding for quite some time. Since January of 2015, we have made an additional 8,000 homes available for service. By the summer of 2017, that number will jump to over 15,000. Expansion is now underway in multiple cities across the network with plans to build out additional neighborhoods in Orem in 2017. All of the expansion is being done to demand and the cost is landing squarely on subscribers. We are most definitely alive, well and growing. Our goal still remains to build out all of our member cities; however, it does take time. Building a mass infrastructure doesn’t happen overnight.
- Why isn’t Orem built out? We base our builds out on demand and cost. If you feel like you have a high enough demand and an area you would like us to look at within our member cities, let us know. If we get enough demand, we will consider building there; however, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding to complete an infrastructure in certain areas.First and foremost, we have to install the backbone of our network. The cost requirements of implementing new fiber optic lines are expensive and it takes a bit of time. We have to install all of our equipment into the streets before we even think about running a fiber line into a home. In some places our equipment is already installed, so running our fiber lines would take less time and money. Some places cost more to build due to the ground that some structures are built on. For example, around the Wasatch Mountain foothills and benches, the ground is a lot rockier and has more of a solid substance than around the valley where it’s mostly dirt. Digging through rock obviously costs more because it takes more time, energy and equipment. Every mile of our network has to be planned; we can’t just dig anywhere anytime we want. UTOPIA Fiber works alongside city leaders to review infrastructure including roads, underground and overhead utility paths, permits and more. Our engineers and maps departments work extremely hard to figure out where we can build based on existing utility poles and water, gas and electricity lines. This is a joint effort. Not only do we have to be prepared, but our member cities have to be ready to design and build a brand new network that can support thousands of miles of fiber optic cables. UTOPIA is strategizing together with our member cities to build out the network out as soon as possible in the City of Orem and all our member cities.
- What is the importance of a fiber optic network? Fiber optic technology uses tiny glass strands to transmit information in the form of light. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, which allows data to travel through the system at incredibly high speeds. Because light is not subject to interference, which affects copper and wire technology, fiber optic technology is more accurate and reliable. Fiber optic systems also provide a much higher capacity than other technologies used by other systems. The availability of high speed, high capacity, reliable, and affordable digital technology is essential to future economic growth as more of our world-wide economy moves into the digital age.
- What are some of the benefits to me as a subscriber? As a subscriber, you can enjoy many benefits including: · The fastest internet connection available, up to a 1 gigabit per second on a dedicated line · Freedom to choose your own provider · No loss of speed through shared lines · Same light speed meaning parallel download and upload speeds · Competitive pricing and services · The fiber optic network won’t become obsolete until some mechanism is found that can exceed the speed of light
- What is the significance of dedicated service? The UTOPIA Network connects each home and business with its own dedicated fiber-optic strand. Unlike other networks which split total capacity among neighbors, each UTOPIA connection is able to access full bandwidth, even when many other users are on the system during peak use times.
- What services does UTOPIA provide? UTOPIA does not provide any service but provides an “open access model” infrastructure, built and maintained by UTOPIA. Private sector providers use the infrastructure to deliver their service to homes and businesses which are connected to the network. Customers have a choice of multiple service providers competing for business. Today, UTOPIA has multiple providers who offer a variety of internet, voice, video and other services, with as much bandwidth as individual customers need.
|Tier||Cost per 1000 gallons|
|Meter Size (inches)||Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
Questions about your bill can be addressed by calling 801-229-7275.If you would like to learn more about how the city developed these rates, please click on an option below. Tiered Rate City Council Presentation Water Rate Change Flyer
Orem is growing.
The City of Orem has an estimated population of 94,457 as of July 1, 2015. The population has increased by 6192, or 6.9 percent since April 2010. A large part of that growth is tied to three factors:
1. The area’s natural population growth and the county’s high birth rate (second in the nation). This constitutes about 70% of the areas growth.
2. Utah’s emerging technology industry, contributing to the nickname “Silicon Slopes” along the Wasatch Front.
3. Utah Valley University’s continued growth, currently the largest public university in the State of Utah.
People are attracted to the area, in part, because of relative affordable housing, recreational amenities, and growing job opportunities. The Provo-Orem area was ranked number one last year by Forbes Magazine for job growth. Even more growth is expected for our neighbors to the north, closer to some of the flagship technological industries and where there is more land for development.
Why are we seeing more apartment complexes under construction?
Due to the housing crash, the availability of new units did not keep pace for demand, which has led to the current surge in apartment construction. Table 1, provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), shows the forecasted demand for sale and rental units from November 2015 to 2018. Diagram 1 shows that housing construction for both single and multiple family housing began to drop in 2006 and continued far below the necessary pace needed to keep up with demand until 2014. The red trendline, representing multiple family housing, shows that current construction continues the necessary development to meet the demands of growth.
According to the HUD, the rental housing and apartment markets are both currently tight with an overall vacancy rate of 3.5 and 2.1 percent respectively. A large part of that demand comes from UVU students, with the housing office reporting an increased number of students struggling to find housing in 2015. UVU does not provide on-campus housing for students, which requires them to turn to the private market. In 2015, it was reported by the UVU Student Association that 25 percent of UVU students live in BYU housing. Rising housing prices in Salt Lake City is also driving people south; with individuals willing to trade up to a 45 minute commute for a larger apartment or small house.
UNDERSTANDING THE FACTS OF THE UNIVERSITY PLACE REDEVELOPMENTThe University Mall is looking at a major redevelopment to create a “City Creek of the South” feel here in Orem. There are plans to build class A office space that will create approximately 2,500 new jobs in the community. There will be additional restaurants, retailers, new housing, an expansion of the movie theater, and much more. The empty Mervyn’s building and the existing parking lot will be replaced with office space and a wonderful park that can be enjoyed by all. If Woodbury is willing to invest their money in Orem, rather than take it elsewhere which they have been approached about, the City Council has made a decision to incentivize the development through the creation of a Community Development Area (CDA). Woodbury has been approached by other communities about alternative investment options and their willingness to give incentives, but the City Council realizes the benefit of having that investment in our community.
How the Money WorksThere will be no tax increase to any citizen or business in Orem. Woodbury currently pays approximately $1.6 million in annual property tax. Woodbury’s $500 million investment will increase the property value at University Place. As their property value goes up, so will their annual property tax payment. Woodbury will continue to pay the $1.6 million, as they do today, and will receive a 75% rebate on the additional property tax created with the new investment. The rebated property tax dollars will only be used for infrastructure needs (park, roads, utility replacement and upgrades, etc.). The other 25% will go to the School District, the City, and the County. At the end of the life of the incentive (20 years) 100% of the property tax will go to the respective taxing entities. The estimated annual property tax payment made by Woodbury will go from $1.6 million to approximately $6.5 million. The incentive only comes from their increased property tax. They City will keep 100% of the increased sales taxes and franchise taxes. the property taxes paid by any citizen or business will not be used as a part of the incentive. Below is a graph showing the tax breakdown over the 20 year proposed plan.
The Impact of this Development on the Alpine School DistrictWhile this development and incentive is a long-term investment in the vibrancy of our community, it is false to say that the Alpine School District is going to suffer because of the creation of a Community Development Area either in the short-term or the long-term. Woodbury is already making a $100 million investment in the University Place Development. However, with the incentive, Woodbury will make an additional $400 million investment for a total of $500 million. Below is a chart showing the difference between a $500 million investment, even with the use of a CDA, rather than a $100 million investment, without the use of a CDA, in terms of property tax revenue to the Alpine School District.
|$100 Million Investment (without a CDA)||$500 Million Investment (using a CDA)|
|Property tax revenue during years 2018-2038||$37,147,000||$37,377,000|
|Property tax revenue during years 2039-2059||$38,240,000||$92,004,000|
|Total Property Tax Revenue over the next 40 Years||$75,387,000||$129,381,000|
Here are the FACTS of what this CDA means to you
- Taxes will not be increased on any citizen or business in Orem because of this incentive;
- Woodbury will invest approximately $500 million of private money into a redevelopment of the University Mall;
- The development will receive incentives only if they build the planned development; the City takes no risk in this development;
- Even with incentives the City, and all taxing entities, will receive additional revenue above and beyond the incentive to help pay for the City’s general services (roads, public safety, parks, etc.);
- The City takes no risk because the incentives are paid out of new tax revenue created by the development’s increased property value;
- All of the incentives go towards facilities that the public will enjoy (roads, parks, better parking, utilities that the City would have had to pay to upgrade regardless);
- Creation of approximately 2,500 jobs within the City of Orem (currently companies are leaving Orem for other cities because they are being offered incentives to leave: Adobe, Attask, Xactware, DoTerra, and others);
- The sales tax base in Orem stays strong; that allows all of us to enjoy lower property taxes;
- The school district has stated that they anticipate a neutral impact in terms of students, so all of the revenue received in additional property tax will be able to support existing expenses;
- Simply, without the incentive the $400 million of the $500 million investment doesn’t happen in Orem. Other cities have offered the same incentive and redeveloping an area is much more expensive than developing an empty field.
- Council Presentation on 9/23/2014
- Video from the Council Meeting
- Project Budget
- Project Plan
- Legal and Financial Impacts
Letters of Support
Click on a community leader’s picture to read their letter of support.
|UVU President Matthew Holland||Orem Mayor Richard Brunst Jr.||Utah County Association of Realtors CEO Taylor Oldroyd||Governor’s Director of Economic Development Val Hale|
Provo Mayor John Curtis
“From my perspective, the University Place project is a rare opportunity for a city. Most municipalities would love to have this type of project. I applaud Orem and its leaders for using the State-allowed CDA tools to build the economic base vital to this important area.”
Support from the Chamber of Commerce
LET THE CITY COUNCIL KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE
To sign up for this service or to find out more about it, please visit http://www.slwofa.com/orem
Why did the City get involved in endorsing a warranty company?
As of 2017, state law (click here to see the law) requires cities to notify homeowners in their community about public vs. private ownership of water and sewer lines. It was the intent of the Orem City Council not only to notify but to also let citizens know what options they have to protect themselves from potential liabilities.
In addition to the City’s legal requirements, the City of Orem regularly receives calls from homeowners who have had a break in their water or sewer lines connecting their home to the water/sewer line in the road. Most of these homeowners don’t realize that they are responsible for their lateral sewer and water line repairs. They believe those breaks are the city’s responsibility, but that’s not the case. The City wanted to be proactive in helping homeowners prepare and/or protect themselves against these large expenses.
As we researched what other cities did to address this growing problem, we learned about these partnerships that many communities have entered into. In these partnerships, the claim denial rates are very low, in the case of Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) less than 1%, and the price is much cheaper than what is offered outside of these partnerships.
We agree that at first glance it seems out of place and odd for a City to be involved. However, we continue to get calls from residents that are being blindsided by these repairs, and we want to do our best to educate residents about this responsibility before the break happens.
This partnership does not prevent other companies from marketing their service to residents.
Does the City make any money on this program?
No. There is no “kick-back” to the City. In fact, they offered the City a commission and the city asked that the company reduce the price to the residents by the equivalent amount. SLWA agreed.
Can I get my name removed from the mailing list?Yes. If you would like to be removed they can call the number 1-844-257-8795. This number is listed on the back of the letter in the FAQs.
How did they get my address?
SLWA used a third party to get the land records of properties in Orem, the same way other companies soliciting their services do.
Is this fair to other warranty or insurance companies?
There are only a few companies in the Country that enter into these types of partnerships. Local agents that we spoke with said that they were not able to enter into this type of a partnership.
The City went through a competitive bid so that any company interested in this type of partnership could compete (we met with three companies). Ultimately, SLWA offered the lowest price, best coverage, extremely low claim-denial rates, and had extensive experience with these partnerships. They currently have this same arrangement with 300+ other communities around North America.
This product does not negate any other company from marketing their service to residents.
Are ALL housing units eligible for this service?
No. This product does not cover sewer laterals or water lines that are shared by multiple units. If you do not live in a single-family home, please determine if your sewer lateral or water line is shared with other units before enrolling. If someone does enroll and is determined later to be ineligible, all premiums paid will be reimbursed to the homeowner.
Do I pay the City directly for this service?
No. If a homeowner chooses to get this service, they enter into an agreement directly with SLWA, not the City of Orem.
Is my money staying local?
SLWA has created a list of local-area qualified contractors that complete all of the work. Although the premiums are paid to an out-of-state company, the work is performed by companies that are in our community.
The City is currently working on extensive Utility Master Plans that will guide Orem’s infrastructure and water investments into the future. Orem Public Works is leading this effort.
New Tiered Pricing Structure for Orem WaterEffective Nov. 1, 2016 In the 2016 Utah Legislative Session, a new law passed that requires retail water providers, such as the City of Orem, to create pricing that promotes water conservation. The title of the bill is “Water System Conservation Pricing” and requires that as customers use more water, the cost per gallon of water increases. View Tiered Water Rates View More Info Water Changes Flier
New Proposed Sewer Base Rate
Bowen Collins & Associates (BCA) completed an independent analysis of the city’s water infrastructure and identified the following projects in need of immediate attention to preserve the quality of availability of Orem’s water:
Replacement of 22,000 Water Meters
BCA has recommended automatic meter reading infrastructure to allow residents to get regular readings each month and throughout the month so that citizens can detect leaks and breaks in their water lines. The automatic meter readers will enable residents to closely monitor their own usage and make changes as they see necessary. This will be a great budgeting tool for families to help monitor water usage and costs.
New 10 Million Gallon Water Tank
The City of Orem has been borrowing space in a 20 million gallon tank owned by Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD). Due to the rapid growth of Utah County, CUWCD now needs the extra space. Orem needs to build its own tank to replace the space lost from CUWCD. This tank is being built for Orem and Orem alone. Vineyard has adopted a water use plan that includes building their own tank.
Water Re-use Infrastructure
Both Lakeside Park and Sleepy Ridge Golf Course are currently using drinking water to irrigate their turf. This project will allow for all of their turf to be watered with recycled water, thus conserving drinking water for Orem households and families. The alternative to this project is to upgrade the water mains to the area, but that is a much more expensive option and would result in the continued use of drinking water to irrigate turf. This project will also give more customers access to the less expensive recycled water for irrigating, manufacturing, and more.
Water and Sewer Line Repair and Replacement
Approximately 18 miles of Orem water lines need to be replaced because they are too small, leaking, corroded, or do not meet the fire flow requirements that the Orem Fire Department needs to fight fires in the city. No pipes are going to be replaced just because they are old. Miles of sewer pipes have been identified as deficient and be lined or replaced to stop corrosion.
Storm Water Pipe Network
Expansion is needed to many of our pipes and detention basins to prevent flooding in Orem neighborhoods.
Water Well Development
Additional wells are needed throughout the city to be able to provide reliable drinking water in Orem.
Sump Elimination and Groundwater Source Protection
Much of the city’s drinking water is pumped from underground wells. Removing direct water injection will prevent possible contamination.