Raise a family in Camp Verde? WalletHub says NO

CAMP VERDE – A recent report by WalletHub says that Camp Verde ranks 63 of 65 Arizona communities based on desirability for raising a family.

Though three of the higher-ranking communities will not house people younger than 18 years of age for more than 90 days: Sun City, Sun City West and Sun Lakes.

Camp Verdeans say YES

Camp Verdeans say YES

By BILL HELM

Staff Reporter

CAMP VERDE – A recent report by a personal finance website called WalletHub ranked Camp Verde the 63rd most desirable Arizona community to raise a family.

Camp Verdeans from varying walks of life contend the report is badly flawed

Sun City, Sun City West, nor Sun Lakes allow residents younger than 18 for more than 90 days. But each ranks higher than Camp Verde among the 65 communities considered by WalletHub.

Therefore, the study “is flawed from the get go,” says Russ Martin, Camp Verde Town Manager.

“I do not accept the premise of the study that places in its top tier places that don’t even accept family under 55 as law,” Martin says. “We are in a great place for families. Take it from a guy who has been to other places and chooses and continues to choose to raise my family here.”

An avid hiker, Scott Evans moved to Camp Verde with his wife Michele and their children what seems to them a lifetime ago. Evans, pastor at Calvary Chapel Camp Verde, likens the WalletHub story to how one might prepare for a hike.

“I use satellite images to survey an area to discern distance, vegetation density, and access points. But the images only capture the landscape in a flat image, from the vantage point of cold, dead space and do nothing to prepare me to experience the smell of plants in bloom, the sound of birds throughout my hike, or the way the sun bounces off a canyon wall to illuminate the beauty below,” Evans says.

Evans says that WalletHub has looked at Arizona, especially Camp Verde from the vantage point of a “cold, dead office filled with flat data, and their results cannot tell the truth about this amazing little town like we who live here can.” “If their data detectives came to Camp Verde and spent a week with me experiencing this place, the data would get tossed out and the writers would be looking for a house to buy,” Evans says. “Camp Verde is a wonderful town full of wonderful people.”

Building a community isn’t like building a house. Communities continue to grow, and several Camp Verde residents have formed the Camp Verde Business Alliance to strengthen and support current and new local businesses, to assist the Town in improving the economic base of Camp Verde though action on the Focus Future recommendations and other initiatives, and to build a positive relationship between the businesses and the Town to collaboratively improve the economy of Camp Verde.

Says CVBA President B. J. Davis, the only benefit to WalletHub’s study is that it “could serve to light a fire under all of us to improve, and stop being so complacent because of the ‘I have mine’ mentality.”

Also a member of the Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Davis says that his fellow commissioners, as well as the Town’s council members are “positive, have the best long-term interests of the Town in mind and are much more business friendly than we have been in the past.” Davis also cites the Town’s new library and medical center, road improvements on SR 260 from I-17 to Thousand Trails Road, the recently ratified General Plan, as well as plans for a new community park off SR 260 near the Verde Ranger Station as evidence that “things that are positive and moving in the right direction.”

According to Cat Davis, CVBA secretary, both the town of Camp Verde and its businesses are interdependent.

“If our businesses fail, then our town will fail,” she says. “If our town fails, then our businesses will fail. The two are dependent on each other for their success or their failure. That is why the Focus Future program has been embraced by the Town and its Economic Development Department.”

Natural beauty, and a small town atmosphere, these are two things people oftentimes talk about when they think of Camp Verde. Says Cat Davis, the “desire to preserve” these things has played a role in folks historically fighting “any form of perceived or real change.”

“Change does not mean an end to the things we value,” she says. “Our small town atmosphere or our natural beauty, those can still be preserved. It is my belief that we are now at a place where the will exists within our town and town government to work together to improve our current situation and to create a better future. Besides we have been in existence for 150 years in one form or another, far longer that Wallet Hub has been around.”

Says Steve Ayers, Camp Verde Economic Development Director, WalletHub, as with “everything else based out of Washington, D.C., is totally out of touch with the rest of the country.”

“This ‘study’ was made by a company that says it provides customized credit-improvement advice, personalized savings alerts and 24/7 wallet surveillance,” Ayers says. “My advice to anyone considering doing business with this outfit is that you hang on to your wallet.”

Based on categories such as Family, Life and Fun; Education, Health and Safety; Affordability; and Socioeconomics; WalletHub slots Camp Verde just ahead of Douglas and Eloy as third-least desirable place in the state to raise a family.

Using 21 “relevant metrics,” WalletHub evaluated the above four categories and graded each community on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “most suitable conditions for family life,” the WalletHub report stated.

WalletHub then calculated the overall score for each city “based on its weighted average across all metrics and used the resulting scores to construct our final ranking,” the report stated.

The good news, at least according to WalletHub, is that Camp Verde does not rank in the bottom five in highest divorce rate, percentage of families below the poverty level, rate of violent crimes, fewest families with kids, least affordable housing, median family income, or newest attractions.

The bad news, at least according to WalletHub, is that Camp Verde also does not rank in the top five in any of the abovementioned categories.

Compared to other Yavapai County communities, WalletHub ranks Sedona 26th, Prescott 33rd, Prescott Valley 38th, Cottonwood 39th, Verde Village 45th and Chino Valley 57th.

Though WalletHub ranked Camp Verde in the bottom 10 in Family, Life and Fun; Affordability; and Socioeconomics, the community’s Education, Health and Safety ranking was virtually in the middle, at 35.

Sedona had both the best and worst ranking of the county’s measured communities, as it placed 9th in education, but 63rd in affordability.

WalletHub also ranked Sedona 12th in Family, Life and Fun; and 16th in Socioeconomics.

With Cottonwood and Verde Village measured as differing communities, WalletHub ranked Cottonwood in the top half in Family, Life and Fun at 30 and in Education, Health and Safety at 13.

WalletHub ranked Cottonwood in the bottom half in Affordability at 50 and Socioeconomics at 52.

Verde Village measured in the top half in Family, Life and Fun at 17, but in the bottom half in Education, Health and Safety at 57, and at 45 in both Affordability and Socioeconomics.

The complete report can be found at: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-places-to-raise-a-family-in-arizona/34527/#.

METRICS USED

WalletHub used the following 21 metrics for this survey:

Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25

Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.

Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)

Weather: Full Weight* (~4.17 Points)

  • Based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking

Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25

Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)

High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)

Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)

Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)

Share of Children Aged 0 to 17 Lacking Health-Insurance Coverage: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)

Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)

Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)

Affordability – Total Points: 25

Housing Affordability: Full Weight* (~12.50 Points)

  • This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices)/Median Annual Family Income.

General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)

Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income/Cost-of-Living Index.

Socioeconomics – Total Points: 25

Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

Share of Families Living Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)

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