|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 10 November 2010 00:00|
Election Day saw Camp Verde voters give a resounding “no” to two ballot initiatives that would have seen an increase in tax increases.
Proposition 400, a measure put forward by the Camp Verde Town Council, was overwhelmingly defeated 2,420 to 663, according to unofficial election results. The measure would have raised the town’s 2-cent sales tax by a penny, making it comparable with other sales tax rates in the region.
The council could have instituted the tax without a vote, but ultimately decided to hold off and put the matter to the people.
The council had hoped that if the tax had passed, the revenue generated could help to plug what promises to be a massive budget shortfall in the coming 2011-12 fiscal year. As it is, the town already withdrew cash from its “rainy day fund” to help balance the current fiscal year’s budget, along with making several cuts in many departments, including a 5 percent across-the-board pay cut for employees. The town would likely have used the money for everything from road maintenance to helping a cash-strapped Arizona State Parks system keep Fort Verde State Historic Park up and running.
“I’m pleased to hear that we asked the voters and a majority has spoken,” Camp Verde Mayor Bob Burnside said. “We’re just going to have to tighten our belts and adjust for the future however we can.”
Burnside said he was thankful that the council decided to put the matter to a public vote instead of just pushing it through on its own.
Prior to the election, Town Manager Russ Martin said he would be prepared to move forward with planning in the event the proposition passed or failed.
Another proposed tax increase, Proposition 401, also failed, but by a lesser margin, 1,997 to 1,101. This measure was put on the ballot by a recently formed group calling itself the Citizens’ Library and Park Construction Sales Tax Initiative, organized in part by local residents including Jim Ash and former Councilman Charlie German.
The money raised through this tax increase would have gone toward a new library, plans for which have already been in the works for years but hindered by a lack of funding.
The rest of the money would have gone toward the town’s future park. The town purchased 118 acres of land from the U.S. Forest Service for $2.4 million just before the economic downturn put a damper on the plans of local government.
The group wanted money to be put toward developing an eastern entrance to the park. Currently, the town has plans to eventually build an entrance off of McCraken Lane at first; the eastern entrance was deemed too expensive to develop in the foreseeable future.
The measure also would have set aside funding toward developing infrastructure at the park, things like water lines and electricity, ball fields, a concession stand and a multiroom building for the use of civic organizations.
“I was extremely disappointed,” German said. “But I certainly understand.”
German said he had a son who was out of work for more than a year and he knows what people are going through right now.
Burnside said he would like to see a volunteer effort come together to do whatever can be done on the new park land, jobs like laying out where new ball fields will eventually be built.
Burnside pointed to the work of private residents that over the summer restored Camp Verde’s old jail into an impressive attraction.
“That didn’t take a bunch of engineers,” Burnside said. “It just took some common folk coming together and getting something done.”
Burnside said the town would just have to take matters one step at a time.
“What we have to do is make a decision; we have to take a look and see exactly how much we can do,” Burnside said.