Start Thinking About Us for a Change

By Scott Dahne | March 4, 2009

I’ve lived in the Cave Creek area for 15 years. Some of the political B—-S—- I’ve seen is just unbelievable. This entire country is in trouble, and our Town is fighting for its life. Many of our self-serving, publicity seeking elected officials would rather point fingers, play games, and try to make everyone believe they know what they’re doing, rather than work together to solve our problems.

I wish I had the time to attend every council meeting, political action committee meeting, candidate forum, and spend time with each and every candidate. Unfortunately, I can’t afford that time. I, like most people need to base my opinion of candidates on what they say to me in their platform statements and the little I hear about their actions in the community.

With the council election at our doorstep, I would advise everyone that can vote in this election to look very carefully at the candidates, their qualifications, and their positions on the issues. If we do not elect a council that has vision and is willing to look at EVERY option proposed, we might as well fold up the tents and call it quits.

Let’s look at and analyze the positions of some of the candidates, from their own words in the February 4th Sonoran News:

We have current council that feel WalMart and big boxes don’t belong in Cave Creek. Do you have another plan that can generate the revenue needed to keep us afloat in the next 3-5 years with no development fees coming in? Narrow-minded thinking … Oh, by the way, if you feel that lack of leadership and fiscal mismanagement are part of the problem, and you’ve been on council for 12 years, you’re part of the problem.

We have candidates thinking that a water bill credit in exchange for turning in local sales receipts is a good idea. Let’s see … sales tax revenue comes in but water revenues are credited back to offset them. That’s a zero sum game. A three year old can figure that one out. Take an accounting class!

We have candidates that don’t think water rates should be raised. Have you looked at the numbers?!?! Have you compared the rate proposal to the CPI from the BLS over the past twenty years? Don’t know what CPI or BLS stand for, then renounce your candidacy. You’re not intelligent enough to question the committee’s recommendations.

We have candidates that feel the town is “just a few steps away from insolvency” from the debt load. How about the fact that the town did what was necessary to provide infrastructure for future growth? Nobody will be complaining when growth picks up and there’s water for everyone. I’d also question how a Utility Department can be “self sustaining without raising rates again.” I guess all future growth of our infrastructure should be accomplished with zero expenditures, huh?

I’d ask a few simple questions of every single candidate that wants to help this town survive our current crisis and position us for the future:

Have you read the CAFR from cover to cover and do you understand everything you’ve read? If not, you shouldn’t be running for council. If you don’t intimately understand the finances of this town, then all you care about is feeding your ego and you don’t give a damn about the Town.

Do you feel that big box stores or property taxes are absolutely off the table for our future? If so, then you are narrow minded and have no idea how to assess options or think strategically. Once again, renounce your candidacy, you’re not what will save this town or position us for the future.

Do you think that bringing more tourists to our town will be a simple solution to our problem, since tourism sales tax revenues will immediately make up the loss of development fees. Buzzzzzzz … sorry once again, you lose. You haven’t looked at the numbers, just your own face in the mirror saying, “Oh, cool, I’m a council person and I’m important.” Well … a lot of people are important in their own minds….

If you want to represent my best interests for the future, you’d better understand finances, tactical AND strategic thinking, how to run a successful business, how to leave your ego in the drawer, how to play well with others, and most of all, how to GROW UP and leave the B—S— in the barn.

Mr. Dahne has lived in the Cave Creek area for 15 years and only writes editorials when he just can’t take it anymore.

“Community First” is the mantra

By Vincent Francia | March 4, 2009

It has been suggested by a few that the Mayor, Council and Town Manager should have foreseen the economic downturn coming. To my knowledge, no one in America fireworked that warning for all to heed.

I see no value in blaming others for the inconvenient truth of what is now described as a worldwide recession, and more locally, for its impact on Cave Creek. Better to identify the cause and then implement solutions. With that in mind I asked 12 citizens, with backgrounds in economics, banking and finance, to come together to recommend a new business model for the town.

The effect on Cave Creek: Along with most of Arizona’s municipalities, Cave Creek felt the biggest effect in its revenue stream derived from development impact fees and construction sales tax. This stream, which comprised two-thirds of town revenues for the past 10 years, came to a rude halt in 2008.

The July 1, 2008 – June 31, 2009 fiscal budget committee projected conservative numbers. For example, building permits issued for fiscal year 2007-2008 were 180; permits projected for fiscal year 2008-2009, 130. That’s a reduction of 28 percent.

By September 2008, the American economy was earthquaking, and the world, including our little corner of it, got rocked.

Responding to the Challenge: Town Manager Usama Abujbarah’s immediate, corrective measures were necessary though not easy to make. Eleven staff members were let go; the Town Manager, Judge and Prosecutor cut their salaries by 10 percent; Department Heads’ salaries were reduced 6 percent; a 32-hour work week was implemented; all capital improvements were put on hold and operational costs were reduced by one-third; council approved a half-percent increase in sales tax.

Water Rate Increases: Increasing water rates, something which had not been done in 23 years and after substantial improvement and modernization of the water company and infrastructure system, was approved by council March 2. It had been felt that future revenues produced by developmental impact and construction taxes would forestall any imminent increases. The tanking of the economy changed that strategy.

It’s not easy to ask citizens to do more financially, especially during a time like now, when finances are tight. Community collective sacrifice is what is being asked for; there’s no other word to describe it.

Planning the Future: As mentioned, 12 citizens are working on a new economic model. It is understood that the Historic Core must retain its unique flavor. The ad hoc group will present their White Paper recommendations to the community and council in April.
Diversifying our economy, so as to never again be dependent on developmental impact fees, is necessary and critical to future sustainability. It is no secret Wal-Mart wishes to locate on Cave Creek Road, south of the Carefree Highway intersection.

It is estimated Wal-Mart can produce over $2 million in annual tax revenues. So, if you’re against Wal-Mart, for whatever reason, then what suggestions do you have for a business that can generate $2 million? Wal-Mart’s application should be viewed with an open mind.
The Election Challenge: The seven chairs on the Council dais have no power in and of themselves; however, those elected to sit in them, will.

Those committed to placing community welfare first and foremost, to dedicating their energies, experiences and talents to Cave Creek in this time of challenge, those who are positive and optimistic and without fear of the future, should be the ones elected to sit in those seats.

There is no place on Council for personal agendas. “Community First” is the mantra. It is essential that those elected understand (and practice) the primary role council has to staff: to create an environment so staff members can do their best work for the community.
This is why it’s important to vote March 10.