Departmental overruns dismay council

Banner program prices local events out of the market
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korina rigginCAVE CREEK – Call to the Public brought Korina Riggin (l) to the podium to express her disappointment with the Cave Creek Merchants and Events Association’s (CCMEA) banner program and the cost at $400 per month.

Riggin stated, “I thought it was to promote town events,” and said she was really disappointed to be priced out of the market for a recent event.

Her second issue stemmed from discussions during a bicycle workshop regarding the town’s gateway indicator.

Riggin said it should show everything there is to do in and around Cave Creek, not just one item.

Although she didn’t state specifically to what she was referring, she appeared to be talking about the stainless steel horse monuments council authorized for each entrance to the town.

Riggin said Cave Creek has Tonto National Forest, Bartlett Lake, Seven Springs, Cave Creek (the actual creek) as an important migratory bird area, four regional parks, Lake Pleasant, Verde River, the town with 47 miles of trails, and Scottsdale and Phoenix with preserves and trails all within 30 minutes of the town.

She suggested the town hire a company to do a marketing campaign to promote all those things and said, “Limiting ourselves to just being a horse community could potentially turn all the others off.”

Town Manager Peter Jankowski held up a picture of one of the town’s speed trailers, which he said sustained extensive damage and was considered totaled.

Apparently the trailer was hit by a truck, which left its right rearview mirror behind.

Jankowski said he provided council with draft budget numbers showing revenues at $17.5 million and expenditures at around $16.7 million.

He said, “We’re not concerned about being in the red,” but stated legal costs may have to come out of the contingency account.

Council voted 6-1 with Councilman Thomas McGuire dissenting to pass the second reading of an ordinance exempting certain things, such as fences, from the building code that require permits.

During discussion, McGuire said he had been giving more thought to the changes since the first reading and stated his neighbor, whom he said was a great neighbor, built a wall 10 inches inside his property line.

He was told by his realtor he could remedy the issue by deeding that land to his neighbor.

McGuire said he would not support the ordinance and stated requiring a permit will help property owners.

Councilman Reg Monachino asked McGuire if he was recusing himself.

McGuire said, “No.”

Building Official Mike Baxley clarified that a zoning clearance permit would still be required, just not a building permit.

Council voted unanimously in favor of passing the first reading of an ordinance amending a section of the town code by deleting a section pertaining to “volume charges for excess BOD and TSS and sewer utility fees.”

According to Utilities Manager David Prinzhorn, the section was outdated and redundant to a more recent section of the town code addressing the same items.

Town Engineer Wayne Anderson asked council to approve an expenditure of $55,020.73 to pay Crafco for crack seal materials that had already been used by the road maintenance crew to perform crack seal work on the town’s roads.

The $55,020.73 billed for March and April is in excess of the not-to-exceed cost of $27,125.57 authorized by council in January.

Council expressed great disappointment that the materials had already been ordered and used prior to obtaining council approval and Anderson was asked how the original estimate of $27,000 came to be.

Anderson said his road crew provided an estimate of what it thought it needed but the town had gone five years without performing any crack sealing.

Mayor Vincent Francia said he was very concerned procedure had not been followed and if a project costs more than told, it needs to come back to council first.

After verifying the crack sealing project was performed over a two-month period, Councilman Mike Durkin indicated it only takes 48 hours to call an emergency council meeting in order to obtain approval from council, if needed.

Durkin also questioned what Anderson had changed to the estimation process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Anderson said they were catching up on five years’ worth of work.

Vice Mayor Adam Trenk said the details of the work that needed to be done originally and what the additional work entailed was missing from his packet and he wanted to see those documents before he could support payment.

Councilman Charles Spitzer wanted to know how the estimate was created and asked, “Was it pulled out of the air?”

Anderson stated, “We’re caught up now,” and said they can now rely on the road pavement program.

During public comment, Everett Bell said he found it particularly interesting that no one knew how much this was going to cost.

He said the first order approved for Crafco was a not-to-exceed amount.

Bell said subsequent verbal orders to Crafco took a $27,000 quote and built it into an $80,000 business.

Bob Moore said Anderson indicated this process had been delayed for five years because no funds were available, adding, “But our illustrious newspaper in town said there was no need for such a program.”

He said, “I can’t imagine this taking place in a private business.”

Councilman Ernie Bunch moved to approve the expenditure and said he was very disappointed in the overrun but when the roads haven’t been maintained for five years it shows how expensive the neglect can be and he was glad the work was being done to maintain their assets.

Durkin, who seconded the motion, reiterated calling an emergency meeting if necessary and said, “Mistakes were made,” but he was glad the roads are being maintained.

Spitzer said he was terribly disappointed in staff – hiding information from the town manager and council.

Trenk said the town has ordinances and they need to be followed. He said a 300 percent overrun was unacceptable and he couldn’t support until he saw copies of the original work to be done and a copy of the work involved in the overrun.

Councilman Reg Monachino said, “Processes and procedures are key,” asking, “Where were the purchase orders?”

He said, “Let’s learn from this.”

Francia said, “I’m going to support this because the work has already been completed and it needs to be paid.”

The motion passed by a vote of 5-2 with Spitzer and Trenk dissenting.

Prinzhorn was next up requesting after-the-fact approval for $13,599.73 to EnviroTrans for disposal of accumulated ferric sludge.

Prinzhorn explained to council the sludge is from the water treatment plant. He said they add a coagulant to the water that causes byproducts.

Prinzhorn said, according to staff, the sludge has been accumulating for five or six years.

He said the sludge pumps under the treatment plant have not been operational for some time and when the sludge gets to a certain level it needs to be pumped.

Trenk asked if they were just finding out now the pumps were failing.

Prinzhorn said, according to staff, the pumps, which are a very specific type of pump, failed after the first year.

Trenk said, “Again, process.”

Durkin, looking at the invoice, questioned the time period during which the pumping took place.

Prinzhorn said they pumped nine tanker truck loads, one load at a time.

Durkin asked how, on April 3, they were invoiced for 50 hours during a 24-hour time period. “How did we accomplish that if we only had one pump at a time?”

Prinzhorn said he didn’t know.

Trenk asked if the sludge buildup affected the quality of the water.

Prinzhorn said the sludge has nothing to do with the quality of the water.

Durkin, who moved to approve the expenditure, said, “In good conscience, until I can understand the answer to my question, I can’t support.”

Bunch, who seconded the motion, said if they had an explanation to the billing codes it might make more sense. However, he said he would support the motion, stating, “We have to pay our bills or people will stop responding.”

He said he hoped for better communication between Prinzhorn and lower staff.

The motion passed by a vote of 5-2 with Durkin and Spitzer dissenting.

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