Trickle down state budget woes could affect town’s bottom line

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CAVE CREEK – On Monday, picking up the budget workshop where it left off, Planning Director Ian Cordwell said his department was ahead on revenue and behind on expenditures, a good thing.

Cordwell also said now that the transportation framework study was completed he will be bringing forward intergovernmental agreements with ADOT and Carefree to proceed with the bike lane project.

He told council MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) has preliminarily authorized $600,000 to fund slurry sealing the roads in Carefree and Cave Creek after the bike lanes are completed.

He said the construction would begin in July, as part of next year’s budget and so as not to interfere with traffic during the high season.

Trails Coordinator Bambi Muller updated the town on the Surrey Trail, which was blocked by the owners of Lot 36 in Canyon Ridge Estates, and said the owner of Lot 37 has agreed to allow the trail to be rerouted across his property.

She said the documents were drafted by his attorney and were being sent to the town attorney for review.

According to Muller, rerouting the trail across Lot 37 means the town will not be required to build a bridged crossing and will save the town a lot of money.

She said the town was still waiting for the court to decide on the Morning Star Trail.

Muller said a conceptual agreement had been reached with Jeff Price, owner of the Horny Toad restaurant, for trail access in exchange for a lot line adjustment.

She said Price and Bart Krasson, who owns the adjacent Indian Village and Hideaway property, have agreed to provide the town with a streetscape easement.

Muller said, “It’s my goal to accomplish this by the end of the year.”

She said she was working on obtaining easements along Grapevine Wash, a trail from Buffalo Bill’s to the octagon building as well as a connection for Cartwright Pass to connect to Hogs ‘N Horses.

Muller noted the streetscape is a separate budget from trails.

peter jankowskiTown Manager Peter Jankowski (r) said staff could make a list of the projects so council can prioritize them.

Councilman Mike Durkin questioned the demand for a walkway from Buffalo Bill’s to the octagon, stating he never sees anyone walking there.

Muller said it was in the framework study and while she didn’t know when Durkin goes by there, stated people walk along there all the time.

She said the town is making the old Neary tank site into a public parking area, so people will be able to park in a single location and walk through town from a central location.

Francia said he would like to see a list of projects with their associated costs or, if costs weren’t available, ballpark figures, so council can prioritize.

Councilman Charles Spitzer said he was concerned about the money being spent for the half-person the town is paying for marketing and economic development hasn’t been spent wisely.

He said people from resorts have been coming to the visitor’s center and carrying away handfuls of maps.

Vice Mayor Adam Trenk asked what the town’s plans were for marketing and economic development and noted it hadn’t spent much of the $60,000 budgeted. 

Jankowski said Patty Pollnow receives $1,000 to $1,500 per month and attends conventions but he wasn’t really sure what she does.

Mayor Vincent Francia said the budget doesn’t allow for a marketing director but the town can use the resources it has.

He expressed the importance of reaching out to the concierge at various resorts so when they have conventions coming to town, they can plan to come to Cave Creek before the attendees arrive.

Trenk said that would be a better return on investment than bike lanes.

Durkin asked Jankowski what Pollnow’s “plan of attack” was and asked what she is doing now.

Jankowski said he would find out but said the town was pretty much event driven.

Councilman Reg Monachino said the strength of the town is tourism.

Councilman Ernie Bunch stated, “I don’t see where that’s our job. We’re better off attracting businesses that will be around for a long time.”

robert weddingtonFinance Director Robert Weddigen (r) provided some bleak news and said beginning in January, construction tax revenues were being determined by where the materials were purchased rather than where they are used.

He said there is proposed legislation that may rectify that.

Weddigen also said there very well may be a reduction in state shared revenue in order to balance the state budget.

Under these scenarios, Weddigen indicated the town’s projected revenues for 2016 could come in at $1.3 million less than 2015.

Francia stated that was why he wanted all department heads to make a list of projects so they can be prioritized.

Monachino said it was incumbent on council to ameliorate the $1.3 million shortfall in projected revenue and said the town should be taking on sewage treatment from “Liberty,” formerly the Boulders and Black Mountain Sewer.

Jankowski said the town was doing its due diligence but have no numbers yet from Liberty.

Town Engineer David Prinzhorn said they need to know how much of the 120,000 gallons per day is residential and how much is commercial.

Jankowski pointed out the town’s wastewater treatment plant was built for Cave Creek not for Carefree or Scottsdale.

Monachino said, “Time is of the essence.”

Council also discussed hooking up the subdivisions that already have dry lines installed.

Jankowski explained the town needed to look at other factors as well, such as the plant reaching 80 percent of capacity several years sooner, which means it would need to start planning for expansion sooner.

As the budget workshop concluded, council tentatively set another workshop for March 9.

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