BY LINDA BENTLEY | MARCH 7, 2012
Council amends town code to conform to last 15 years of reality
‘Last time we advertised, no one responded and some of the people we have now don’t have the qualifications we asked for’
CAVE CREEK – Mayor Vincent Francia announced during Monday night’s council meeting a letter from Standard & Poor said the town had received an A credit rating.
During Call to the Public, Evelyn Johnson (r), executive director of the Cave Creek Museum, provided a short slide show presentation about the museum and said the museum sees more than 8,000 visitors annually, of which less than 10 percent are from Cave Creek.
She said they also see about 110 visitors per month using a Culture Pass, a benefit library cardholders can check out for free admission for two to participating museums, including Cave Creek’s.
Johnson said more than 500 people visited the museum on Feb. 14 to celebrate Arizona’s Centennial.
At the end of the presentation, Johnson stated the museum’s budget for 2012-2013 is $151,000 and asked the town to consider a contribution of $1,500 per month.
Former Councilman Ralph Mozilo said he supports the Cave Creek Museum and urged council to keep it in mind as it begins the budget process.
Korina Riggin (l) took to the podium to announce the third annual Trail Run will be held on April 7 to raise awareness and money for open space. She said they would be limiting participants this year to 450 people.
Riggin thanked the town for its support and said, “I’m always looking for volunteers.”
Charles Spitzer held up a folded newspaper and said, “You’ve all seen this.” Without elaborating, he added, “The public deserves answers to some questions … so this doesn’t happen again.”
Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek explained the only agenda item, the first reading of an ordinance amending sections of the Town Code.
Dyrek said the ordinance was proposing some changes to a few chapters of Title III Administration to make the town code conform to current practices and changes in the law.
According to Dyrek, some practices have been in place for at least the past 15 years she’s been with the town that do not conform to the town code.
Under “Order of Business,” for example, the section detailing setting and formatting agendas has not been in practice since she’s been with the town.
She said the change will provide council more flexibility.
During public comment, Planning Commissioner Reg Monachino suggested the document be amended to allow any member of the planning commission to request an item be placed on the planning commission agenda.
Town Manager Usama Abujbarah explained the planning commission agenda is set by applications and is prepared by staff. He said it was different from council agendas, which are reviewed by the town attorney to ensure they are in legal conformance.
Councilman Steve LaMar said he didn’t see it being necessary and said the purpose of the commission is to help streamline the review process, while adding other things to the agenda could potentially bog it down.
Vice Mayor Ernie Bunch questioned whether seven planning commissioners may be too many, since every time there’s a vacancy there aren’t very many applicants.
Planning Director Ian Cordwell said council could change that but said it needs to be an odd number.
Councilman Jim Bruce moved to approve the amendments to the town code, stating the town had not been following it for 15 years or so.
Councilman Dick Esser, who said it was major housecleaning that was long overdue, seconded the motion.
Councilwoman Shelley Anderson moved to amend the motion by retaining the Water Advisory Committee, which was being removed from the town code.
“Water is a hot button issue,” said Anderson, noting water rates are so high.
Esser agreed, seconding the amendment, and asked if it were possible to reduce the number of members.
Abujbarah suggested reducing the number of members to 7 and hold meetings on an as-needed basis.
Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow said committee members expressed they have fulfilled their obligations and didn’t feel the committee was needed any longer.
Marlow also pointed out council is the ultimate decision-making body and although the committee was advisory in nature, they seemed unable to assemble a quorum, despite lowering the number to six members out of 12 to constitute a quorum.
She said last time they advertised for members no one responded and stated, “Some of the people we have now don’t have the qualifications we asked for.”
The amendment failed by a vote of 5-2, with Anderson and Esser voting in favor.
Bruce’s motion to amend the town code, specifically without the suggestion the planning commission be able to place items on the commission agenda, carried unanimously.