Rodeo a winner, fireworks not so much


CAVE CREEK – Monday night’s Call to the Public brought Robert Morris to the podium to chastise the town for underfunding and understaffing the town’s utility operations.
Judy Lewis followed to ask, “What possessed the town to allow fireworks on the Lehman property on Saturday night?”

Lewis stated Tom Lehman “doesn’t even live on the property and doesn’t give a damn” about the people who live in town.

Fred Daniel also complained about the “20-minute professional fireworks display” and said he assumed Lehman was issued a permit by the town or Rural/Metro.

He said it was “reckless and thoughtless,” called Lehman a big bully and asked the town not to let him do it again.

Councilman Thomas McGuire asked the town manager to respond.

However, Town Attorney Bill Sims said they could not have a discussion because it was not agendized but could ask Town Manager Peter Jankowski to address the issue at a future meeting.

John Sawazhki read into the record a flyer he received the afternoon before the event on the Lehman property, advising neighbors he would be having a wedding with music and fireworks, which the flyer stated was “approved by the city of Cave Creek.”

Lynn Jackson stated her concerns were more of the same and said, “I want answers as to how this happened.”

Sims said staff will have to come back with answers at a later date.

Council voted unanimously to appoint Adrienne Goldberg to the Open Space Advisory Committee.

Beth Cornell reported to council about the outcome of the rodeo. She said they formed an organization rather quickly this year with two goals – to put on a great rodeo and to form a 501(c)3 organization with bylaws that will prevent what happened (the rodeo getting hijacked by the Desert Foothills Community Association) from ever happening again.

Although the financials were only 85 percent complete, Cornell said the rodeo raised over $228,600 in revenue with around $152,400 in expenses.

She said the town generated over $7,000 from its $3 facility fee.

Councilwoman Eileen Wright asked what she’s done to prevent this from happening again.
Cornell said they haven’t done anything yet since their first order of business was to put the rodeo on.

She said they were working with the town attorney to come up with language for their bylaws.

Danny Piacquadio from Harold’s, who also served on the rodeo committee, presented a gift to the town commemorating the 40th anniversary of the rodeo.

Council voted unanimously to recommend approval of a new #10 beer and wine store license for the Prickly Pear Inn.

Councilman David Smith introduced an item to reallocate a portion of the .5 percent transaction privilege tax originally allocated for the maintenance of Spur Cross Conservation Area.

Because the tax generates approximately $900,000 annually and the maintenance costs are only about $300,000, several years ago council voted to allocate half of all excess revenue generated to the general fund and the other half to open space.

While the town is pursuing the possibility of mitigation banking to preserve the 4,000 acres of state land, Smith said the money allocated toward open space is just sitting there.

Because the town is short of funds for other critical needs, he suggested reallocating the funds for open space to the general fund.

Councilwoman Susan Clancy asked what the money in the open space account does.
Smith replied, “Nothing.”

However, he pointed out the ordinance in place doesn’t allow them to do anything else with that money.

An amendment to the proposed ordinance was suggested to reallocate the open space revenue to a water infrastructure fund.

Smith said he was amenable to that amendment.

Jankowski suggested any proposed expenditures from that fund be approved by council.

Sims said that provision was already written into the ordinance as proposed. He also said what they were proposing could help soften the blow of impending utility rate hikes by showing council was able to find additional funding.

Smith moved to approve the first reading, as amended.

Councilman Thomas McGuire, who seconded the motion, said he had already spoken to the chair of the Open Space Committee, so he knew this was coming.

Mayor Ernie Bunch said it was a veritable mine field and council will have to weigh very heavily the justification for any expenditures.

Sims introduced the next item, which he brought forward to undo a stipulation to the Meritage Homes approval that stated they must bring their own water since they already have a “will serve” letter from the town.

Council voted unanimously in favor of the amended stipulations.

Wright brought an item forward dealing with the town’s grease trap ordinance, which she said was not being enforced and everyone should be concerned about.

She said issues associated with noncompliance have cost the town over $300,000 in repairs.

Wright read some old letters from the town to business owners regarding noncompliance going back at least 10 years, bolstering the fact that this has been a problem for a long time.
She said, “It’s time to start enforcing our grease trap ordinance.”

She proposed changing the language of Section (G) from: “All such facilities shall be subject to inspection by the town prior to operation and periodically thereafter,” to “All grease, oil, and sand interceptors shall be subject to inspection by the town prior to operation and thereafter monthly with written reports submitted to the town manager.”

Although council voted unanimously to pass the first reading, Bunch said the town currently budgets $30,000 for inspections – a considerable amount of money.

He said there are only a few offenders so monthly inspections may be a waste of money.
Because this was only the first reading, Bunch voted for it but said he may not support it when it comes back for a second reading.

Council also voted unanimously to pass the first reading of an ordinance establishing procedures for the payment of capacity charges for water and wastewater utility services inside and outside the town.

McGuire stated these are fees the town can and should recover.