Both the Heber and Midway City Councils are scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening. Hot-button issues like Heber’s new banner ordinance and a potential bond proposal in Midway are both up for discussion.
The meetings in Heber and Midway are set to happen simultaneously at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug.18. Members of the public will be able to participate virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person meetings.
Heber’s City Council is scheduled to consider adopting one of two separate ordinances regarding changes to the city’s street banner policy. Controversy flared up last June after rainbow-colored banners that read “Pride in the Wasatch Back” flew down Heber’s Main Street during pride month. The city faced accusations of taking sides on what some citizens consider a politically divisive issue. LGBTQ Pride banners also flew on Heber’s Main Street this June.
The Heber City Council began the process of reevaluating the city’s banner policy toward the end of 2019. The city’s current policy regarding banners concerns size, location, and placement. What can and can’t be displayed on the banners themselves is left up to the mayor or city manager to decide.
Both proposed ordinances would clarify that street banners are not part of a public forum and can be regulated by the city. The changes would restrict banners to the promotion of federal and state holidays, as well as events and messages sponsored by Heber, Wasatch County, or the Wasatch County Chamber of Commerce.
One version of the ordinance would further restrict the banners to only promote events the city deems as not for profit and non-political. The second version omits the non-profit and non-political language and adds the city has sole discretion over what events and messages the city decides to sponsor.
The Midway City Council is scheduled to consider putting a $4 million dollar bond measure on the ballot in November to pay for the burial of about a mile of power lines running through the city.
A large utilities project has already been approved in the Heber Valley and Rocky Mountain Power is set to construct new power lines to carry electricity through the southern portion of Midway. Midway does have the option of burying the transmission lines underground if they do not want them overhead, but state law says Midway will have to foot that bill themselves.
The power line issue has proven to be a divisive one for Midway residents. Strong opinions have been voiced both for and against paying for the burial of the lines social media. Some people are willing to pay, others, not so much.
Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson told KPCW last week the decision whether or not to put the bond measure on the ballot is one the city council is not taking lightly. She said regardless of whether the power lines get buried or not, some Midway residents will likely be unhappy about it.