Jeff Silvestrini, the first mayor of Millcreek, wins second election
Nov 18, 2019 02:56PM
By Kirk Bradford
Mayor Jeff Silvestrini (Photo courtesy Jeff Silvestrini)
By Kirk Bradford | [email protected]
He's Millcreek's first and (so far) only mayor, and he was just re-elected for another four years. The question is: who is Mayor Jeff Silvestrini?
For those unfamiliar with Silvestrini, he has been the mayor in Millcreek for almost three years and is the first mayor in the history of Millcreek since its township. Silvestrini comes from a legal background. He graduated from Michigan with an AB in history in 1976. He then transferred to the University of Utah where he earned his juris doctorate in 1979. He has practiced civil litigation for 37 years. He is now the president of Cohne Kinghorn, which is made up of two dozen highly skilled attorneys.
Silvestrini is an avid bicyclist and frequently commutes on his bicycle. He also enjoys boating, camping and skiing, and is a champion tailgater at University of Michigan and University of Utah football games; he holds season tickets at the Big House and at Rice Eccles. The Millcreek Journal asked Silvestrini about what the public may not know he deals with or how they can get to know him better if they have an issue.
Silvestrini explained, “I would like Millcreek residents to know that the mayor’s job occupies a great deal of my time, usually 10–12 hours per day. I see things sometimes on social media which I would like to address but I don’t have the time to engage in extended discussions or debates with people. I make it a point to be available to answer questions and address residents’ concerns through normal email and phone channels and those are a better way to contact me, because some days I just don’t get to the social media.”
Referencing some opinions and social media posts that have gone around the past couple months and even were somewhat hostile during the election, Silvestrini talked about needing to keep his eye on the ball. “I regret the tone of some of the social media stuff. There are people on there who assume the absolute worst about everything. Even when I would like to defend the city sometimes, I can’t do my job if I spend a lot of time doing that. I hope that most people understand this and recognize that I need to spend my time actually doing things for our city rather than getting bogged down responding to the same critics over and over.”
Silvestrini said the position is largely occupied setting policy and representing the city on a number of boards such as Unified Fire or Unified Police. It means he can’t be involved in “every permit, inspection and other task assigned to city workers.”
“Some people wrongly assume every detail is the mayor’s job and I accept that the buck stops with me, but our organization can’t function without proper delegation and reliance on others to do their part,” he said.
One of Silvestrini’s campaign promises was an immediate exit from the municipal services district allowing Millcreek control over their funds before entering into contracts with Salt Lake County for services. As a result, Millcreek has been able to negotiate a scalable and customized level of services and can continue to negotiate cost savings for courts, prosecution and legal defense services among others. Where cost savings could be achieved, the other types of services have been taken in-house for the city’s benefit.
Silvestrini led and negotiated Millcreek’s exit from the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area. In so doing, Millcreek received a transfer of Millcreek’s share of fund balance (over $1 million). Silvestrini spotted some accounting errors in the UPD budget whereby Millcreek had been overcharged $1.1 million for shared services, and was able to leverage and negotiate this oversight. It resulted in the city obtaining six additional UPD officers to serve the Millcreek precinct. One of the officers has duties with the DEA Drug Enforcement Task Force. The other five comprise the Millcreek Community Crimes Suppression Unit, a team that concentrates on solving street crimes, free of the duties of regular patrol. This unit is responsible for numerous arrests for vehicle and residential burglary, busting drug dealers and other operations. The City Journals now reports on these cases with its “Officer of the Month” articles.
Silvestrini campaigned for updating Millcreek’s 60-year-old zoning ordinances. The ordinances have now been rewritten, getting rid of outdated uses like rendering plants and drayage. Ordinances are being continually reviewed and updated to allow for better processes. Since the city was incorporated, the council adopted new regulations for the multifamily residential, manufacturing and commercial zones. The City Council also approved new standards for parking, residential accessory buildings and short-term rentals. In response to community concerns, the council passed new rules requiring a height transition wherever a multifamily building is proposed next to a residential zone. Silvestrini and the council are making efforts to make sure the Millcreek “circus tent” situation never happens again. City staff is currently updating the city’s sign code and how the public is noticed for for land use decisions.
Plans for a city center for Millcreek, currently Utah’s 10th largest city, are coming together, with planning help from the Wasatch Front Regional Council. State tax increment and financing tools are set up through a community reinvestment agency, and phase one is approved for 560 residential units and 28,000 square feet of new retail. The draft plan envisions a significant open space to be built as part of the development.
Millcreek was recognized as a leader in transparency and responsive government by the University of Utah Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative and the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. The distinction is granted to governmental entities within the state in recognition for their integrity, trust, accountability, transparency, fairness, respect, rule of law and viability.
The financials speak for themselves. Millcreek ended the fiscal year 2018 with a balance of $4,345,632, paid cash for all purchased fleet vehicles and start-up costs, and underwent an outside audit which resulted in no negative findings. For fiscal year 2019, the city has maintained a fund balance of 16.04%, — consistently many points higher than the statutory 5% minimum. The city also has an AA+ bond rating in the summer of 2019 from outside financial experts.
The final voting numbers in this past election showed a 70% vote for four more years with Silvestrini at the helm.