Stavoe floats plan for Economic Security group

By Curtis Riggs | June 17, 2009

Doug StavoeCAREFREE – Town Councilman Doug Stavoe’s proposal to establish an Economic Security & Marketing Committee quickly turned into an argument about the viability of the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce at a Tuesday town council budget workshop.

Stavoe is proposing a nine-member committee be formed to develop and submit proposals to the council to help “stabilize, support and enhance” Carefree’s sales-tax base. Stavoe suggests the committee include two Town Council liaisons and other stakeholders throughout the community.

“The representation may include any stakeholder in the generation of sales-tax revenue,” he said.

Councilman Bob Gemmill, who has previously been the council’s marketing person and has close ties to the Chamber, immediately tried to draw Stavoe into an argument by asking his feelings about the annual Thunderbird Art Festivals.

Stavoe responded the town should receive more benefit from the shows than $7,000 in ticket sales for each show considering how much residents and businesspeople are inconvenienced by road closures and parking problems.

The two councilmen disagreed about whether or not the Chamber actually helps to support the town’s sales-tax base, which is the primary mission of Stavoe’s new committee.
“I’m not sure what you want me to say … do the festivals truly create a benefit for the town?” Stavoe said at one point.

“So bringing in 45,000 people a year is not a benefit,” Gemmill responded.

Councilman Bob Coady jumped in at this point.

“Not every citizen in Carefree is happy with the Thunderbird shows,” he said. “They are not able to get their mail, the streets are closed and there is no measuring stick that shows the benefit to the town,” he said.

Vice Mayor Glenn Miller said downtown restaurants do well during the shows.

“The bottom line is they bring in a lot of people from outside the town,” Miller said.

Stavoe tried to bring the discussion back to the formation of the committee.

“Since I was blindsided by Bob Gemmill we have gotten off track,” he said. “The festivals are good. We just need to keep in focus whether the festivals benefit the town.”

He added he wanted to “do away with the secret handling of these types of issues.

“Instead of doing marketing behind closed doors what I want to do is bring it out into the open.” he said.

Schwan said the idea about the new committee was “not ready for discussion by council” when asking for someone to table Stavoe’s proposal.