Allred family donates $10,000 toward open space
By Linda Bentley | April 8, 2009
CAVE CREEK – Monday night’s council meeting, during which council approved every agenda item, although not necessarily unanimously, lasted precisely one hour.
Mayor Vincent Francia announced the Allred family had donated $10,000 toward the purchase of open space acreage.
The Cave Creek Museum Executive Director explained the Culture Pass program that allows anyone with a library card from a participating public library four free admissions to participating valley arts and cultural institutions. Visit theculturepass.com for more details.
Council unanimously approved a recommendation in favor of granting a #6 Bar Liquor License for Ashley Manor, Inc. for the Castle at Cave Creek at the former location of Long Branch Saloon.
Councilwoman Kim Brennan moved to approve the second reading of an ordinance to amend the way items are placed on council meeting agendas. The amendment states, in part, “The mayor, or the town clerk upon the written request of one member of the town council, may include an item on the agenda.”
Councilwoman Grace Meeth was the lone dissenting vote.
When council voted in favor of raising the town’s sewer rates, Lopez was the only dissenting vote.
Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow said the town has always subsidized its wastewater treatment facility and stated the current rates have been in effect since 1994.
The increase affects only the base rates, raising the residential rate by $12, from $33 to $45, and the commercial rate by $15, from $30 to $45. However, the commercial base rate would now include the first 10,000 gallons with a $3 charge per 1,000 gallons, over the initial 10,000, remaining unchanged.
When asked what other towns charge and if the rates were comparable, Marlow said she didn’t know and pointed out most cities and towns do not subsidize their sewer fees.
Marlow also said the town has done everything it can to reduce costs, including canceling its contract with Arizona American and bringing the operations in-house.
“The biggest expense,” she said, “is sludge hauling.”
Displaying a five-year projection with the new rates in place, Marlow showed the town would still be in the negative, subsidizing the wastewater system by approximately $300,000 to $380,000 per year.
Marlow said the only way to lower expenses is to add more customers or raise rates.
Council unanimously approved the amended site plan and final plat, adding two more units to Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills’ (HFHDF) Hidden Valley Condominiums, once council received assurance from Planning Director Ian Cordwell the playground issue had been resolved.
HFHDF no longer requires its homeowners to work in the area to qualify for a home.
When casting his vote in favor of the amendments, Councilman Ernie Bunch commented how HFHDF’s mission statement, “to provide simple, decent affordable homes to selected families in need in the Desert Foothills area,” would have more meaning to him if they were to build in a neighboring town.
Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to delete Section 9-480(D) and Regulation 9-350.2(3)(A) of the town’s tax code, amounting to the adoption of “Option 13” of the Model City Tax Code, which eliminates an offset to the town’s 3 percent utilities tax and 2 percent franchise fee so the town will receive the entire amount.
According to Town Accountant Marian Groeneveld, Option 13 has been adopted by 56 cities and towns in Arizona.
Meeth, who moved to approve the first reading of the ordinance stated, “I’ve never been a big fan of offsets and credits.”
During the last agenda item requesting approval of a sludge hauling contract with Red J Environmental for an amount not to exceed $175,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, Esser asked Marlow if she had solicited and received written bids for the service.
Marlow said she received two responses to her request for proposals, including one from Red J, who was five cents less per gallon, a “huge difference” when dealing with hundreds of thousands of gallons.
Mattice stated the expense was previously bundled in with the former subcontractor’s contract and is now an “unbundled” expense.
Esser abstained from what was otherwise a unanimous vote to approve.
Photo: Last week Mike Allred (l), pictured with Associate Planner Bambi Muller and Town Manager Usama Abujbarah, presented the town of Cave Creek with a $10,000 check on behalf of the Allred family toward the purchase of over 4,000 acres of open space.
Courtesy photo/Larry Sahr