Let the budgeting begin

Prinzhorn also provided council with a two-page summary report listing his “notable accomplishments” over the past year
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cave creek council workshop Cave Creek Town Council held its first workshop on Monday to provide staff with general direction and guidance for fiscal year 2015 and 2016 budgets and receive updates from staff on proposed projects and those already underway. 
Photo by Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – Town council held a special workshop meeting on Monday, kick-starting the budgeting process for fiscal year 2015 and 2016 and providing staff with general directions and guidance.

Council also received input from staff regarding parks/trails, utilities, roads and law enforcement, as well as updates on proposed projects and those already underway.

Town Engineer David Prinzhorn passed out a document listing “Challenging issues for utilities & public works.”

While Prinzhorn outlined problems with water, wastewater and road maintenance that have plagued the town since the recession and budget cuts, second from the bottom of that list was, “Ill informed or misinformed public and press.”

Prinzhorn was not clear as to what subject specifically or to which “press” he was referring.

However, if it had to do with Prinzhorn unilaterally deciding to cut off supplying untreated CAP and arsenic-laden Vermeersch Well water to Rancho Mañana Golf Course, Prinzhorn issued a written directive to employees to carry that out by Jan. 1, 2015, based solely on Prinzhorn’s misinterpretation of the town’s contract with Rancho Mañana to supply the golf course with treated effluent and water.

Prinzhorn asserted the water advisory committee (WAC) reviewed the contract, despite the subject never having appeared on a WAC meeting agenda, and determined the town was only required to provide the golf course with treated effluent.

Prinzhorn never contacted Rancho Mañana Golf Course owner Mike Allred or General Manager Dale Samar, who said they learned about Prinzhorn’s plans to cut off their contracted water supply by reading about it in Sonoran News, which prompted them to schedule a meeting with Prinzhorn and Town Manager Peter Jankowski.

During that meeting, Allred and Samar clarified for Prinzhorn and Jankowski what the town’s contractual obligations are for providing the golf course with treated effluent and water, which is where Prinzhorn learned it was he who had misinterpreted the contract.

Prinzhorn provided council with another handout outlining his plans for water and wastewater utility benchmarking based on a book published by the American Waterworks Association.

He also stated he works with the WAC on a regular basis.

Prinzhorn advised council Spur Cross Road’s Galloway Wash all-weather crossing was planned as an at-grade crossing with $70,000 earmarked for that project, although he had not received final bids yet.

He said the way it was being designed would allow the town to construct an above-grade crossing in the future with box culverts tall enough to allow people on horseback to cross under and without having to remove the foundation of the at-grade crossing.

Prinzhorn also provided council with a two-page summary report listing his “notable accomplishments” over the past year.

Bambi Muller updated council on the status of the Surrey Trail and said the trail easement, which was given to the town in 1997, is not where the trail exists and the people who purchased lot 36, over which the wildcat trail crosses, have blocked its use.

According to Muller, it will be costly and require some engineering to reroute the trail so it is in the easement and said the town is working with owner of lot 37 to the north to possibly reroute the easement and trail across a portion of their property.

As far as the Morning Star Trail goes, Muller said the town is waiting for the judge’s ruling in the lawsuit Gerald and Janice Freeman filed to prevent the town from locating a trail anywhere near an easement they use to access their property. (As does the Sorchychs who strongly favor the construction of the trail.)

Muller also said they were meeting with engineers this Wednesday regarding narrowing the median at certain locations in town to gain additional right-of-way for trails.

She said Jeff Price, owner of the Horney Toad restaurant, is interested in left turn access to his parking lot, while the town is interested in acquiring an easement to Galloway Wash behind his property, for which there are ongoing negotiations.

Mayor Vincent Francia asked if she had any ballpark figures on the trail connections.

Muller said a bridge over the bad part of the Surrey Trail is estimated at $38,000 and $20,000 to complete the trail.

Jankowski said the town doesn’t have enough money to do these projects and needs to use some of the budgeted money to maintain existing trails.

Councilman Reg Monachino asked Town Accountant Robert Weddigen how much money was available in the development fee account for trails.

Weddigen said there was around $139,000.

Muller said there was $65,000 allocated for trails and $75,000 allocated to streetscape.

Councilman Mike Durkin said since the lot owners cut off the Surrey Trail access, everyone he’s heard from are people who want to hike.

He asked if, for the near term, they could flag the trail easement for them and allow hikers to use it.

Muller indicated there could be safety and liability issues and, in its present state, the trail does not meet the town’s standards.

Durkin suggested signage for hikers to use at their own risk.

While stating signage would be helpful, Town Attorney Fredda Bisman said it could still be a liability problem if the trail doesn’t even meet the town’s standards.

Muller said the original bid for the Morning Star Trail was originally $8,000 but she thinks it will be more like $20,000.

According to Muller, there is another way to connect from the west side of town. However, she said it is via trails through Cave Creek Recreation Area that connect to Spur Cross Conservation Area and is approximately 10 miles long.

During public comment, Terry Smith stated what needs to be spent now is due to the 12 years of work by Muller that are now coming to fruition.

He urged council to include funds in the budget to go forward with these trail connections.

Councilman Charles Spitzer asked if the town had any traffic counts on trail usage.

Muller said they did not, although she believed that would be useful information.

Spitzer suggested using volunteer time to do some trail traffic counts.

Town Marshall Adam Stein told council there were a little over 30 special events this year, some of which caused it to take an additional 10 minutes to drive through town.

However, he said the events bring a lot of people to town and stated they don’t have a lot of events that are all day long.

Spitzer asked if there was something they could do during Bike Week to put the bike parking off the road, instead of closing down half the road.

Stein said Bike Week has grown significantly and draws people from all over the country, who have expressed to him they enjoy being able to park in the road and walk to the various businesses and restaurants.

Stein said bikers do not want to park in the dirt and if they were to take away the road closure parking they would lose a good number of attendees.

He stated the average delay to get through town during Bike Week is eight to 12 minutes and said six days of road closure brings a tremendous number of people to town.

Stein said they’ve researched where else they could put all those bikes and what they’ve been doing appears to be the best solution.

He said it seems to be a safe well-planned event.

Vice Mayor Adam Trenk asked Weddigen if there is a way to measure if the town is seeing an increase in tax revenue as a result of these events.

Weddigen said there were too many factors involved to know if revenue can be directly attributed to any particular event.

He said the best way to find out is to have the local merchants gauge if they had increased business due to an event.

Monachino said there was no question events benefit the town but it comes at a cost to the town and suggested perhaps have the merchants who benefit from the events help out financially.

During public comment, Anna Marsolo said bikers don’t do a thing for most of the businesses in town, just the bars and restaurants.

Building Official Mike Baxley said he wanted some feedback and guidance from council with respect to the rodeo grounds.

He asked if they wanted to budget for capital improvements or if they were satisfied with the status quo.

Baxley said the rodeo grounds are currently rented out three days per week for ranch sorting and roping.

Francia asked what the rental fee is.

Baxley said it was currently $100 per day, a fee he inherited.

However, he said he was looking into what other facilities charge and will bring that back to council in the near future.

He said the rodeo grounds could use an electrical upgrade, which would allow for additional uses, and currently has only the equivalent of residential capacity.

Baxley said the upgrades needed, including $75,000 for new bleachers, would run around $110,000.

Jankowski said the $5,000 to $10,000 budgeted each year for the rodeo grounds is insufficient.

Baxley said he was looking into software that could track building permits and would like to institute software that would allow some to be obtained online, such as permits to replace a water heater.

He said he looked at a system last year that cost $80,000 but said there are far less expensive ones around.

The goal is to minimize “face to face” time at the counter and make his department more productive.

Baxley said Desert Awareness Park suffered significant damage and needs bank stabilization on the south side where it lost playground and picnic equipment.

While the town would like to recoup some of the money from FEMA, the $5,000 budget is not enough to perform the needed repairs, which will require engineering.

Trenk said he was all for protecting the town’s assets and suggested protecting what’s there and making the park accessible but not replacing any lost equipment or performing any upgrades.

Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek said she would be budgeting a couple thousand dollars for a software upgrade and informed council there will be another election in November to approve the town’s general plan.

Monachino passed out forms he proposed using for performing the town manager’s evaluation.

Jankowski said he had no problem with whatever method the town wanted to use and said the town has a great staff, which makes him look good.

Durkin made his own suggestions as to how the town should conduct evaluations.

Because council still needed to discuss the Planning Department, Francia scheduled a continuation retreat meeting for Feb. 9.

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