As a full-time resident of Carefree for nearly ten years and five years prior as a seasonal resident, I know and appreciate the beauty of our town and surrounding area. We are blessed with some of the most magnificent topography in the world.
As a former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I and my fellow Commissioners, wrestled constantly with zoning matters where we needed to balance the desire to develop land with the desire to maintain our unique town and community. Carefree town staff were always most helpful in supplying us with information around requests. But at the end of the day, the Commissioners made the call on what we would approve or not approve. It is no easy job.
Today I sit as a Town Council member. My job did not get easier. Now I am part of a group that represents the citizens of Carefree. Our job is to listen, learn, question, consider and make decisions that are in the best short and long term interests of Carefree citizens. Obviously, when any decision is made there will be some number of citizens who disagree with that decision. Our job is to make decisions that reflect the opinion of the citizen majority.
I have been involved in town government, in one fashion or another, for the last five or six years. I watched the impact of the market downturn and the concurrent decline in local merchants. Sales tax revenue, our major funding source, went south. In addition, construction sales tax revenue, another substantial funding source for the town, was devastated by changes made at the State level.
In my opinion, and looking at the facts, our town has turned the corner towards a strong vibrant future. Our town financial reserves grow stronger. We need to become a destination for local, state, national, and international visitors. Through our marketing and business development efforts we are becoming just that. Our strategic marketing plan has created significant awareness through digital marketing and the execution of world class events such as the revered Enchanted Pumpkin Festival and now a three week Christmas in Carefree season. The solid, well-known brand of the Thunderbird Artist shows has also brought thousands of visitors to our town, creating indelible memories for many.
As a result of significant public input, workshops, town council public meetings, publication of activities on COINS, work committees involving citizen participants, never ending work by all town staff, and the work of the Mayor and Council, we have a revitalization plan that is well on the way to generating more sales tax revenue. The plan is available on Carefree.org.
Here are some of those sales tax revenue generators:
1. The renovation of the Carefree Resort to CIVANA Wellness Resort.
2. The addition of new restaurants and businesses in our town core.
3. The construction of luxury apartment homes. (Bringing people to live and shop in our town center)
4. An extended Christmas Festival schedule. (Attracting visitors to our shops and restaurants for several weeks versus a three-day event)
5. Our third-year pumpkin festival expected to surpass the 50,000 visitors we had last year.
I am both honored and proud to be of service to so many wonderful citizens of Carefree. I encourage everyone to come to town council meetings and hear what we are doing and share your thoughts. I am always available to discuss our town initiatives and/or meet with anyone. My cell phone is 814-881-7020. I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael J. Krahe, Ph.D.