BY JIM VAN ALLEN | MAY 1, 2013
Carefree: Urgent. Don't let a few speak for you
Fellow Carefree Citizens, it is very imperative that you take the time to let your town council know your opinions. They are about to spend huge amounts of YOUR money, and take it away from reserves. The council will meet a 5 p.m. on May 7. The agenda will include a discussion and possible action on the 2013-2014 Town Budget. The action will be to accept or deny the 'bottom line' of the budget, which could have a large effect on town cash reserves.
Included in the budget are these areas that must concern all of us:
1) They are considering giving all of the town staff an additional 2 percent salary increase. This is on top of a 3 percent raise last year. PLUS two more of the staff could get substantial "merit increases." With our tax revenue continuing to decline is this the time to continue doling out more raises?? And, what happened to the Employee Evaluation plan that was promised at last year’s budget session?
2) They plan to take about $750,000 more out of our reserves to then accelerate street maintenance. This action would be on the heels of last year’s project of $1,000,000. It should be noted that the 10 year plan presented just one year ago did not call for this action. Again, we need to protect our reserves.
3) They are prepared to budget a staggering $850,000, being "sold" as an effort to stimulate the downtown business revenue. Projects are:
A) A "Water Splash Pad System" in the gardens to attract youngsters to run through. How this will result in any additional town revenue remains a mystery. The price can reach $350,000 (not including the annual cost of water, repairs, security and the likely additional cost of liability insurance to cover the children).
B) A major overhaul of the stage and amphitheater area. Cost could be as much as $400,000 for new lights, awnings and a fancy sound system. It should be noted that the town released an "RFP" four years ago to attract event operators to join us in hosting frequent festivals and events in this same area. Not one of the companies contacted was interested. Concerns noted were lack of seating area, lack of parking, too many access points (for ticket sales) and lack of either a back stage or dressing area. Why would a rational person take more money from our reserves for this?
To be 'fair and balanced' the "talking heads" would have us believe that they can get new sponsors and donations to pay for all of this, and not take as much (?) out of reserves.
However they have not offered any solid information on that front, nor have they offered any thoughts regarding a return on our investments. They seem unfazed about taking all of this money out of reserves … the funds intended to insulate the town from real emergencies, (not to support frivolous notions.)
On a fiscal year to date basis (thru 9 months) the mayor has advised that our sales tax revenue is DOWN over 8 percent from the prior year. This after we secured the wonderful new garden, spent $87,000 more for faux gaslights, flooded the town with colorful banners, installed the second edition of the "business signs" (which unfortunately are not visible at night) and built a new parking lot. But, once again no mention of plans to support our resort, Lowes/CVS or the Carefree Marketplace (Bashas’ Center). And not one penny set aside for the library or any other social agency.
Folks the council members will listen to you, if you speak up now. YOU need to email them (or phone them at town hall) and say NO WAY!!!!
The more of you who do this the better chance of halting this "spend it until it is gone" mentality. If you really want Carefree to stay Carefree the 'circus' plans mentioned above need to be shelved. Let us put the residents back in charge of Carefree, not the special interest groups. Our cash reserves need to be protected. Join the handful of folks who showed up at the recent budget meeting who unanimously spoke against these ideas.
Make contact NOW. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 488-3686. Include your name and request your comments be logged for the public record. These messages go directly to the mayor and all council members.
Thank you for your immediate action on this.