He also says AGC of Utah has been collaborating with the Utah Home Builders Association, Utah Bankers Association and title companies on legislation to simplify state lien laws. “This is something that affects everyone involved in building projects, and we want to make it simpler and make sure the responsibilities are shared equally,” Thorn says.

Thorn notes that, related to Eccles’ call for AGC members to be involved in long-range planning efforts, the organization is participating in the creation of a unified transportation plan for the Wasatch Front.

“This is a major undertaking with a consortium of groups, including the Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments and local DOTs, [working] to come up with an all-encompassing plan. We are hoping to get some support from the legislature to fund that plan,” Thorn says.

Thorn says a solid transportation plan is key to efforts to improve air quality along the Wasatch Front. At the time of the convention, there were already 15 proposed bills in the legislature targeting issues of air quality.

“We’ve been working for some time with the Division of Air Quality in the state, and we want to be supportive of what we can do to clean up our air,” says Thorn. “But our industry is just a small part of the impact on the environment, and we’ve already done so much.”

He says the AGC will be involved in any discussions about raising the gas tax, which has been proposed during past legislative sessions.

“It has been 17 years since that tax was last increased, and in those years our buying power has decreased almost 40%,” says Thorn about the tax, which is currently set at $.06 per gal. “There are more hybrid and electric cars, and cars get higher mileage now, so it impacts that gas tax. I think there will also be some discussion of changes to vehicle licensing fees. These are some of the other options being talked about,” he adds.

New AGC Leadership

For only the second time in the history of AGC of Utah, a member from the southern half of the state will take the helm as chairman of the organization’s nearly 425 members.  Doug Watts, owner of Watts Construction, a vertical construction firm based in St. George, took over the presidency from outgoing chairman Mark Green of M.C. Green and Sons Inc.

“I think I can bring a new perspective and appreciation for what the AGC does for the industry,” says Watts. “I think some in the industry take for granted the work this organization does so I’m looking forward to serving and growing the AGC. I’ve been helping to grow the AGC in southern Utah, and I want to keep up our work with outreach to other parts of the state.”

Thorn notes that in past year, the AGC of Utah purchased an office in St. George where it had previously only leased space.
“We felt like we could provide better service to our members and establish ourselves more firmly in Southern Utah if we became owners of that building,” he says of the new offices near the Red Cliffs Mall in St. George.

Outgoing chairman Green lists the purchase of the St. George office among the accomplishments during his service but was particularly proud of the organization’s efforts to reach out to the community in the past year.

Green was behind several charitable projects led by the AGC, including the construction of a new playground for a community daycare center and contributions to the Hope Lodge, which houses families and patients receiving cancer treatment, as well as a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital foundation.

“A lot of what we do is paid for by taxpayers and private investors here in our state, and I think it is only right that we try and give something back,” Green says. “It is a program I hope will continue, and I think it will. The looks on the faces of those kids we built the playground for were priceless, and I think everyone who worked on that project will tell you money can’t buy a feeling like that. We want it to keep going.”

This year’s convention activities also included educational sessions on using technology, managing the Affordable Care Act and improving presentation skills, as well as a Western Night party and the annual awards presentation.