|Town leaders work to balance the budget|
|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 23 June 2010 08:00|
Tax revenue is down this year, as expected while the nation weathers an economic recession. The economic woes have had a trickle-down effect on the town’s local budget. The state, in efforts to plug its own budget holes, has withheld money from the town that is generally used to take care of basic issues like road maintenance.
Town Engineer Ron Long has told the town’s leaders that there’s just not enough money to maintain the 100 or so miles of roads in Camp Verde.
Town employees have agreed to take a 5 percent pay cut while continuing to work 40 hours a week. Last year, the town decided to close its offices, save the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, on Fridays while extending hours Monday through Thursday.
The Town Council has tried to find money for expenses it knows the town will have to cover in the upcoming year. That includes money to hold elections, including one in November that will put two tax measures before the public.
One, a 1-cent tax increase, would go toward helping the town continue to provide services to the community.
The other, a half-cent increase put forward by a citizens’ group, would go to fund construction of a new library and improvements at the town’s recently purchased 118 acres of park land, including development of another access point. About $20,000 will have to be set aside to pay the U.S. Forest Service for easements to provide access to the park.
The town has also had to forgo spending money on renovating the Camp Verde Senior Center. Grant money that was once a possibility dried up, leaving town leaders to make the decision to spend what money is available on Hollamon Street improvements instead.
The town has been operating under a hiring freeze, but will need to fill a part-time position in the town’s finance department in order to operate at an
efficient level, according to recent budget discussions. In addition, various town departments have been doing their best to cut down on everyday expenses in a year where the local government is looking through the metaphorical couch cushions for every dime. In one example, the council discussed last week cutting the day after Thanksgiving from the holiday schedule, though Interim Town Manager Dave Smith said the move wouldn’t really save much money, especially since town offices are closed on Fridays. Other possible cuts include reducing the amount of money the town plans to spend on vehicles in the upcoming year.
Fortunately for the local budget, the town has been saving up. Unfortunately, that hypothetical rainy day has arrived. The council is considering taking nearly $1.3 million from its reserves in order to turn in a balanced budget. The town is required by law to approve a balanced budget for each fiscal year, which begins Thursday, July 1, in Arizona.
The move will allow the town to continue providing services, barring any major unforeseen events.
The town’s pool is staying open, largely thanks to shared gaming revenue from the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Money is also being set aside for the potential construction of a public works yard on town-owned land. The current yard is on rented land that is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars a year.
The town could possibly approve the budget for 2010-11 at the Wednesday, June 23, council meeting.