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Council sharpens ax for budget
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:52

It’s budget season in Camp Verde, and it’s forcing the Town Council to make some extremely difficult decisions.

The town depends on sales tax for the majority of its revenue. When times are good, the town has some wiggle room with how it spends money to provide services.

Times aren’t good, from an economic standpoint, and Town Manager Michael Scannell is doing what he can to craft a balanced budget the Town Council can vote on.

The council spent last week in lengthy budget meetings trying to come to a consensus on how to spend the taxpayers’ money while continuing to provide services Camp Verde residents expect.

The state is hurting too, which means less money for Camp Verde.

Still, the town is doing better than many governments, something the council credits to years of financially conservative leadership that kept enough money set aside for a rainy day.

Scannell has crafted a recommended budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which starts Wednesday, July 1. The budget will ultimately be decided on by the council; Scannell’s recommendations are an effort to keep providing necessary services while at the same time keeping Camp Verde’s bank accounts in the black.

With hundreds of thousands of dollars less to work with in the town’s 5 million dollar budget, the council has been reviewing every line item very carefully.

An important issue to keep things running is a temporary suspension of a resolution the town passed in 2001 that split a portion of tax revenue between the town’s park fund and its capital projects fund. The town is looking to suspend that resolution for at least a year in order to close the massive budget hole facing Camp Verde.

One issue that the town can’t control is the $135,000 it has pledged annually to the Camp Verde Sanitary District over the next two decades in an effort to help fund expansion of the town’s sewer system.

Scannell and the council would like the district to refinance the deal to take advantage of lower interest rates, but it hasn’t happened yet.

It would save the town as much as $15,000 a year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The proposed budget also reduces the library’s budget when it comes to book purchasing, lowering it to the minimum amount of support required by Yavapai County.

The recommended budget also sets aside around $100,000 for three new vehicles for the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, one less than requested.

cannell and Marshal Dave Smith said that as many vehicles should be funded as possible; any vehicle not purchased would still be needed in the next budget year.

The recommended budget also leaves two vacant CVMO positions unfilled for the next fiscal year.

It also seems that several of the town’s appointed commissions might get the axe, simply because it could be more cost effective to have them serve as private committees. With no government assistance, many commissions could provide valuable information to the council without spending taxpayer money.

Under consideration for this type of organizing are the town’s library, trails and pathways, parks and recreation, and housing commissions.

The town is considering many other cost saving measures, including smaller cuts such as the elimination of filmed council meetings for televised broadcast.

Nothing is final yet; the Town Council must take a vote in a public meeting before the end of June.

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