VOL. 18  ISSUE NO. 14   |  APRIL 4 – 10, 2012


Carefree Vice Mayor Price may need primer on open meeting laws

Carefree awards $80,000 marketing contract to Owens Harkey

matt owensPrior to his firm being awarded the town’s marketing contract, Matt Owens of Owens Harkey Advertising presented council with its ideas on how to best market the town within its budget constraints.  Photo by Linda Bentley

CAREFREE – Mayor David Schwan announced there would be a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 9 to review the General Plan 2030.

He also announced a tentatively scheduled joint meeting with Cave Creek Town Council on May 7 regarding the possibility of MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) allocating $200,000 to the two towns, which included improvements to Cave Creek Road.

Schwan said each town would be required to contribute $5,000 toward the projects.

Council unanimously approved all agenda items during the April 3 council meeting, which included approving Cave Creek Municipal Court Judge Lianne Sefcovic as an additional judge pro-tem for the Carefree Municipal Court and a proclamation naming April 2012 as Parkinson’s Awareness Month in the town of Carefree.

In approving a new Series 10 Beer and Wine license and Sampling Privileges license for Raymond Klemp, applicant for AZ Spirits, Town Clerk Betsy Wise explained to council, in Klemp’s absence, he was changing his license from liquor to beer and wine “because it’s cheaper.”

She also said the liquor board came up with the new license for sampling last year.
While no action was taken on the last agenda item, possibly placing four-year staggered council terms on the November ballot, Vice Mayor Melissa Price, who introduced the item, said she spoke with all council members and “they all agreed continuity of council is important.”

Price said she spoke to the League of Cities and Towns, which informed her only five of the 91 incorporated cities and towns in Arizona have two-year council terms.

According to Schwan, in order for the item to be placed on the November ballot, Wise would need to submit the information to the county in May.

During public comment, Raymond Arnold said he thought four-year staggered terms would provide continuity and was a good idea.

Councilman Michael Farrar asked if the measure didn’t conflict with the recent voter-approved term limits, limiting council members to serving three consecutive 2-year terms.

Price stated the League told her only chartered cities and towns can impose term limits.
Schwan said Carefree was a statutory town, so they weren’t quite sure where they stood on term limits, which was a citizen’s initiative.

He said citizens can file an initiative to place anything on the ballot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it comports with the law. So, it was something the town needed to look into before the item comes back to council in May.

Councilman Jim Van Allen asked Price, “You spoke to all council members?”

Price looked around the dais to assure herself she didn’t miss anyone and replied affirmatively.

Van Allen responded, “What about open meeting laws?”

Schwan indicated he didn’t believe it was a problem with the vice mayor speaking to every member of council on the subject, so long as she didn’t repeat what members of council had to say.

However, Town Attorney Michael Wright said afterward, if that is what she did, it does in fact violate open meeting laws.

During a special meeting of the town council held prior to the regular session, council voted unanimously, with Councilman Marty Saltzman absent, to award a contract not to exceed $80,000 to Owens Harkey Advertising to market Carefree, providing council approves a budget to include such funding.

According to Town Administrator Gary Neiss, the town receives approximately $60,000 in fees from event permits and vendor fees and the rest would be paid from the General Fund.
He said the town has typically given the Chamber of Commerce $15,000 to $30,000 each year toward marketing. However, the Chamber doesn’t just market Carefree, it spends resources on Scottsdale and Phoenix as well.

Neiss said this would be a way for the town to take control over its marketing.

Councilman Arthur Gimson said there was no hesitation on the part of the committee and it was a unanimous decision to recommend Owens Harkey.

He said, “Although we wanted to do business with someone local, we also wanted to do what was best for the town.”

Councilman Glenn Miller said he heard Kim Prince “knocked it out of the ballpark” with her presentation.

Holly Bergman, who was also on the committee, said it was a difficult decision for the group, but the committee decided it needed to take its marketing efforts to the next level.

And, while Bergman agreed Prince may have knocked it out of the ballpark, she likened Owens Harkey’s presentation to a grand slam.

Following Owens Harkey’s presentation and council vote, Neiss provided council with a preliminary budget review, including trends in revenues and potential capital projects, which he referred to as “potential investments.”

Schwan said some of the budget items will require some policy decisions, such as his proposed employee raises, stating it was “time to reward and acknowledge these people.”
The budget workshop is part of the budget process and no vote was taken by council.

Council will have an opportunity to scrutinize and discuss the budget in detail during its next budget session.

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