"Disincorporaton" is a word floated by dissatisfied Dewey-Humboldt residents since the day 72 percent of the community voted to incorporate. But when a councilman puts it on the council agenda nearly eight years later, it's bound to raise hackles.
An open-to-the-public council discussion spearheaded by Councilman Dennis Repan on de-annexation, disincorporation, and implementation of property taxes drew a small number of residents to the June 5 meeting.
"I was hoping, with a little 'shock and awe,' to open the dialogue," Repan said.
In his opening comments, Repan said he sees how people come before the council with their requests, and how it comes down to expenses versus revenues, with dwindling reserves in the town's budget.
"I came up with imagining different scenarios to try to move the town along," he said, and listed de-annexation as the first scenario. Disincorporation is a little more complicated, he said, but when the community was in the county, "they left us alone."
Repan and other council members have been working on the 2012-13 budget and are realizing the expenses of running a town could deplete the reserves in 5 to 10 years, according to Town Manager Yvonne Kimball. By law, the town can levy property taxes for its infrastructure needs that include such things as staff salaries, roads and sidewalks.
"Maybe that's what we need to do to survive. I couldn't come up with any other way. We want all these things. Do we want to be proactive now while we still have reserve funds? Or sit on our hands for the next four to five years until we run out of funds?" Repan said.
He estimated that a tax of $20 per month for property owners, or $240 per year, could generate about $300,000.
Resident Cathy Jackson said she understood what Repan was suggesting, but "what makes you think the people can afford it?"
"That's my point here. The town has been pretty conservative with its money," Repan said. "I don't want property tax as much as anyone else."
Former mayor Bob Greene said, in previous years, a former council cut the sales tax in half, from 2 percent to 1 percent, which didn't help with revenue.
"The last two councils have been anti-business. We need businesses. Let's go to work," he said.
Greene said Prescott Valley would annex the town, take its water, and then "bleed this town dry." He urged the council to put their minds together and quit fighting. "Make our town want you, because we want this town."
Resident Jerry Brady suggested putting more effort into finding grant money, and also said the county has new standards and would require D-H to be in compliance with those standards before the county would take it back.
Former councilman David Nystrom advised the council to look at the county budget. "The last thing they want is to take on Dewey-Humboldt with infrastructure needs and no way to generate any revenue," he said, and suggested using some of the town's reserve money to hire a consultant grant writer.
Kevin Leonard, president of the Dewey-Humboldt Historical Society, urged the council to have a little faith and give the people a chance to do something to help bring business into the town. He again asked the council to help support the Historical Society with the purchase of the museum building.
Repan apologized for causing people's blood pressure to rise, but said sparking a debate was good. This past week he said he wondered what might happen if the town used up the reserve funds and could no longer support the town or staff.
"Our only way out, if that happens, is to put the burden on the residents of our community. I do not want to see that happen," Repan said. "My hope and intent was to open a creative dialogue as to what is really important for the future and survival of this town."
The council met Tuesday afternoon in a special study session in which Repan challenged the council to rethink its philosophy of road repair and maintenance as the town's first, and perhaps only, priority. For nearly an hour, residents and council talked about the reality of bringing new businesses into the town limits, the small population base, location of commercially zoned property, and the town's General Plan.
Resident Hamilton said Prescott Valley's success came from putting in water and sewer systems, which attracted people and businesses.
"Most people here have their own water and sewer. The philosophy is to be rural and not have dense housing. That's what drives the town. Without dense housing, you're not going to get the businesses here. They don't last because they don't have the customers," he said.
Mayor Nolan said he would continue the discussion at another time in a month or two.
The council will give its final budget review on June 19, and budget adoption takes place on June 26. Both council meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 2735 South Highway 69 in Humboldt Station, Humboldt.