Council’s new water policies considered a good start

Ron Sova

Photos: Ron Sova, Garry Hays


CAVE CREEK – Before its regular meeting on Monday, council held a work study session to review its policies and give the town manager direction on how they wish to proceed on updating those policies.

After Planning Director Ian Cordwell explained there generally aren’t many applicants for vacant seats on boards, committees and commissions, Councilman Thomas McGuire decided it might be a better idea to change the wording on a suggested policy that would limit those appointed to two consecutive terms to encouraging council to find members to serve that have not served two consecutive terms.

McGuire read off a list of policies that could be eliminated due to them being addressed elsewhere in other town documents or were regulated by state statute.

According to Town Manager Carrie Dyrek, the policy on fees was updated in 2014 by resolution.

Town Attorney Bill Sims commented the fee of $0.50 per page for photocopying was reasonable but said the rest of the fees were low.

Questioning a policy that documented every traffic control sign in town, Sims chuckled and said he didn’t know of any town that has a policy documenting every traffic control sign.

Vice Mayor Ron Sova asked if that policy could be eliminated.

Sims advised council most governments have few policies and generally only address things such as ethics and finances.

Sova said he had a note on policy number 21 that Sims may want to weigh in and noted the policy was 27 years old.

Sims stated, “It doesn’t matter what it says here, it’s governed by Title 9 [Arizona Revised Statutes].”

Mayor Ernie Bunch suggested making a reference to the statute instead.

Sova noted there was a policy documenting the speed limits for every street in town and asked if they wanted to maintain that policy.

Dyrek said they typically address speed limits by resolution.

Another policy started in the early 1990s allowed use of council chambers, typically for HOA meetings, at no charge but required a staff member to be present.

Councilman David Smith asked if that was really a good policy to not charge for someone to open and close at night.

Sova questioned if they needed to keep a policy on agendas “since we’re not following it.”

Dyrek indicated it was covered elsewhere.

Dyrek explained why the town policy of contracting for community services specified four entities: Cave Creek Museum, Cave Creek Merchants and Events Association, Fiesta Days and Wild West Days, to which the town could provide funding.

She said the policy was adopted so council wouldn’t have every non-profit organization appear before council during budget meetings asking for money.

Smith suggested not specifying the organizations or events to give the town more flexibility.

Sims advised not to leave it open ended or they will be pestered for money all year ‘round.

Sims questioned the town’s policy that placed a 45-day time limit on requests for reconsideration and said Robert’s Rules of Order allows reconsideration during the same meeting.

However, he said council should not be barred from readdressing an item after 45 days.

During the regular council meeting, councilwomen Susan Clancy and Mary Elrod said they rode Ollie’s Trolley over the weekend and found the newly launched free service thoroughly enjoyable.

During Call to the Public, Elaine McGuire said she was out and about over the weekend and there was no one on the trolley. She said rather than spending money on the trolley it would be better spent on making the town more walkable.

McGuire also questioned why the town would pay to have a service that takes people from Cave Creek to Carefree when they should be encouraging people to shop and dine in Cave Creek.

Bill Basore said he was commenting on item number seven since there was no public comment on that item.

He said everywhere there is mention of permits on the town’s website there is nothing about the cost associated with those permits.

Basore said it was time for the town to review the need for permits and asked if it wasn’t time to get rid of permits to replace a water heater.

Johnny Ringo thanked Toby Payne and everyone involved in putting on the Christmas Pageant. He said it was incredible, especially with the beautiful full moon, and packed both nights.

For future agenda items, Eileen Wright requested a code of conduct policy to be brought forward.

Clancy asked to revisit the development agreement with the Roadhouse to learn how far the water tank sign encroaches on the town’s property.

While council was seeking to fill four vacancies on the water advisory committee (WAC), Wright said the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) dictates they can only have one member from Carefree, five from Cave creek and four from Desert Hills.

Applicant Tom Davenport said he was a little embarrassed because he applied to serve on both the WAC and Planning Commission but due to the learning curve he may have bit off more than he could chew and wanted to only be considered for the planning commission.

Council heard from Ralph Ferro and Wendy Kerychuk, who said, as a resident of the west side of town and previously Desert Hills, she was well aware of the water issues as someone who has hauled water for 40 years. She said her strength was in bringing people together.

McGuire nominated Evelyn Johnson, but the vote failed 6-1, which Bunch clarified was nothing against Johnson but that there were plans underway that required continuity.

Both Ferro and Kerychuk were appointed unanimously.

Council unanimously reappointed Dick Frye, appointed Davenport and John Patton to fill the three vacancies on the planning commission.

John Ford, who also applied but was not present, did not receive a nomination.

With five seats vacant on the board of adjustment (BOA), Cordwell stated although it has only had one meeting in the last six years, only two members reapplied.

Sims said the fact that it had only needed to meet once in six years was a sign of success.

Council unanimously reappointed Brian Sirower and Adam White and Cordwell said they will readvertise for the other three seats.

The town’s water Attorney Garry Hayes Council presented a proposed water policy.

Hayes thanked the WAC and Dyrek for all the hard work they’d done and said it was not easy stuff.

Hayes stated there were hard decisions to make and it wasn’t done in a vacuum.

He said the policy is a great place to start but it will be a living, breathing document.

Outlining the policies, Hayes said items 1-3 will be coming back to council in the form of an ordinance, whereas the rest would be codified in the town’s policies.

The new policies will require all new subdivisions to show evidence of a 100 year water supply that can be delivered through the town’s water system and must be sufficient to supply their development based upon a water master plan prepared by the developer and approved by the town.

All requests for individual 5/8 inch or one inch water meters for lots within the town or outside the town where the town has a contractual obligation to provide water will be provided a Will Serve letter, subject to the town’s sole determination that water is available and provided there is access to water lines. All existing valid Will Serve letters will be honored.

All new Will Serve letters will include a variety of restrictions, including a condition that the Will Serve letter is only valid for three years from the date of issue.

During public comment, Kerry Smith said the policy was great start but had concerns over lack of staff to meet the reporting requirements. He also questioned what the Will Serve letters actually promise.

Robert Morris said he fully supports the policy and stated the town should adopt it. He said, ideally, the policy should have been in effect 10 years ago and lamented it really is only addressing the symptoms rather than the underlying problems.

He said WAC has consistently asked the town to staff the water utility and that an engineer who quit six months ago still hasn’t been replaced.

Planning Commission Chair Bob Voris said this has long been an area of concern to the planning commission but they haven’t had the tools to make decisions on water.

He said the policy is a good start but there is additional work that needs to get done that shouldn’t be minimized.

Johnny Ringo got up to speak but wanted to speak about the trolley rather than the agenda item and was politely cut off.

Sova moved to approve the policy and said he agreed with the comments.

McGuire, who seconded the motion said they have a tough road ahead because the WAC set the bar very high.

Wright asked to make a friendly amendment to have staff review and update the policy and come back to council in six months.

When Sova didn’t accept her amendment, Wright said without it she couldn’t support the policies.

Smith said substantial input has been put into the policies and stated they don’t need to rethink everything they do time and time again.

Clancy agreed with everyone’s comments and said it was a good policy.

Bunch thanked WAC for pushing council and said they have a lot of measurement criteria they didn’t have before.

Council voted 6-1 to approve the policies with Wright dissenting.

Sue Marshall approached council with a request for $5,000 to assist with putting on the first Creeker Christmas, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 9 beginning at 11 a.m.

She said they want to raise enough money to not only put on the event but to donate to a few charities.

Sova asked how much it will cost to put on the event and how much they’ve raised so far.

Marshall said the event will cost $7,000 and they’ve raised $6,000 in contributions from 12 businesses and individuals.

Sova asked if this was going to interfere with Carefree’s Christmas festival. Marshall said she didn’t know anything about Carefree.

During public comment, Johnny Ringo said he supports the event and will donate $200. He said, “I think this can be a big event for this town but it has to start somewhere.”

Wright moved to approve a not to exceed expenditure of $5,000 for the event.

Dyrek explained the town couldn’t give them money directly because they are not set up as a 501(c)3 organization. However, they could agree to pay for something directly, such as Arizona Ice Man for the snow.

Sova offered a friendly amendment due to the short notice agreeing to pay Arizona Ice Man $2,500 for the snow.

Smith said he also didn’t like the idea of them being a “pass-through” organization for the town to donate to charities.

The amended motion passed unanimously.

While discussing the results of the council retreat, Clancy said she wanted council to work on the long-term and short-term goals identified during the retreat.

Wright’s request to direct the town manager to place a “comprehensive, all-inclusive, definitive list” of everything requiring a permit on the town’s website within 90 days will be addressed, along with Clancy’s request, at another work study meeting to be scheduled before the Dec. 18 council meeting.