|Taxes raised, pool closed|
|Written by Trista Steers MacVittie|
|Wednesday, 25 March 2009 13:03|
The town of Clarkdale plans to raise its sales tax and not open its community pool this summer in an effort to stay afloat during turbulent economic times.
Clarkdale Town Council voted unanimously to raise sales tax to 3 percent from 2.25 percent and not open the pool for the 2009 season at its meeting Tuesday, March 24.
“I think the 3 percent is absolutely reasonable,” Mayor Doug Von Gausig said. Cottonwood’s sales tax is 3 percent and Clarkdale shares the same market.
Town Clerk and Finance Director Kathy Bainbridge estimates the tax will bring in an additional $63,000 for the town.
Councilman Curtiss Bohall said residents need to realize if they want services from the city they have to pay for them and they do this through taxes.
However, Town Manager Gayle Mabery said most of the sales tax collected doesn’t come from town residents. It’s generated by tourist purchases and construction.
Resident Ellie Bauer wasn’t happy with the council’s decision. She said Clarkdale isn’t Cottonwood and shouldn’t be compared to it and, as a partner in a Clarkdale business, she feels the tax increase is a lot of money.
If the tax put Clarkdale merchants at a disadvantage, Councilman Richard Dehnert said then he would have a problem with the increase, but he said the town has to find ways to increase revenue and the tax seems reasonable.
Council’s vote to keep the pool closed was another cost-saving measure on the part of the town’s leadership.
According to staff reports, it costs the town approximately $51,000 to operate the pool each year and it only brings in around $9,000 in revenue, leaving the town with a balance of $42,000 to cover. And, only 1 percent of Clarkdale’s residents use the pool.
Von Gausig said the town looked at ways to keep the pool open, but in these budget times it isn’t a good idea for the town to spend money in that manner.
“It requires an angel in essence to keep the pool open,” Von Gausig said. A private donor would have to offer to cover the operating costs or the town would have to sell approximately 500 season passes.
Janet Perry, assistant town manager and Parks and Recreation supervisor, said the town has talked to other entities — Yavapai College and the Yavapai-Apache Nation — about investing in the operation and she will keep those conversations open.
Not opening the pool doesn’t, however, completely eliminate pool expenses.
If the town doesn’t keep water in the pool it will ruin the plaster, Von Gausig said, and that will cost the town $8,000 per year.
To replace the plaster, Perry said it could cost the town up to $100,000.
The town will explore other options for preserving the plaster at a later date. Mabery said staff needs to look at other options before it can give council a recommendation.
The decision affects only pool operations for 2009, Mabery said. Money for the pool is not included in the town’s tentative budget for fiscal year 2009-10, but council can look at revenues next year and decide if it wants to keep it closed again for 2010.
Vice Mayor Jerry Wiley doesn’t believe the town faces a one-year closure. He estimates it’s looking at keeping it closed for up to three years.
“We may not ever open the pool again because we may not need to,” Councilwoman Pat Williams said. Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Sedona all have pools and Cottonwood’s new recreation center will be opening next spring.
It’s wonderful for the town to have a pool, Williams said, but the number of residents served doesn’t justify the cost.
Mabery said the town isn’t a business and many of its endeavors don’t generate revenue, but those are the first things to go when times get tough.