Camp Verde Town Council Q&A Round 3: Joe Butner

Joe Butner

Joe Butner

In the Verde Valley, Camp Verde and Jerome are the only municipalities with a residency requirement for employment of the town manager and town marshal/police chief. Is this a policy you support?

Yes, I support this policy wholeheartedly. Both of these positions are personal professional service positions that are statutorily appointed by the Town Council and legally serve at the pleasure of the Town Council. There is a necessarily close personal and professional relationship between the Town Council and the Town Marshal, as well as the Town Manager. In the case of the Town Marshal the concept of “community policing” also necessitates that the Town Marshal resides within the community. Imagine a situation where the Town Marshal resides in a community with very different demographics and economic motivation than that of Camp Verde and, therefore, has no personal stake in the quality and impact of law enforcement in our community. That would not be a good situation and could give rise to very unsatisfactory results the most extreme example of which could be found in Ferguson, Missouri.

The same analysis can be applied to the Town Manager appointment. The Town Manager must have a personal stake in the community, in addition to a professional stake. The Town of Camp Verde has a desire and a need for its Town Manager to be deeply committed to the success and quality of life in our Town. A failure to reside in our Town would create a disconnect that can only be remedied by requiring residency in our Town.

The Camp Verde Town Council recently approved a 5-year contract for its town manager. Do you agree that there should be an employment contract between the town and its manager, and do you agree it should be for five years? Please explain your answer.

I do not disagree that there should be an employment contract between the Town of Camp Verde and the Town Manager. In other words, an employment contract is certainly a viable option and clarifies the intentions of the Town and the Town Manager. The problem arises as a result of the contract extending for a term of 5 years, which is beyond the elected term of the Town Council that entered into the contract on behalf of the Town. As previously discussed in answering question number one, the relationship between the Town Council and the Town Manager is both personal and professional. The Town Manager, as required by statute, shall serve at the pleasure of the Town Council. In the unfortunate event that the personal and professional services relationship between the Town Manager and the Town Council becomes fractured , a contract with a prior elected Town Council should not serve as an impediment to dissolving that relationship. A sitting Town Council should not be so presumptuous as to attempt to tie the hands of a future elected Town Council and bind them contractually to the personal and professional services of a specific Town Manager. The history of Arizona is full of examples of situations like that not working out well for either side and leading to expensive litigation. Each elected Town Council must be free to appoint their own Town Manager, rather than risk the possibility of being unable to carry out the policies that caused their election due to an entrenched bureaucracy not answerable to the electorate.

The Camp Verde area is served by three private water companies. Do you believe water delivery should be a municipal service in Camp Verde? Please explain your answer.

I do believe that water delivery should be a municipal service in Camp Verde when the time is right. Private water companies have been a fact of life in Arizona for many years. Sometimes that works out fine for everybody with honest and dedicated water utility businesses providing a valuable and reliable service at a fair price. In other instances there have been gross abuses of a monopolistic situation leading to excessive charges, unreliable and poor quality services, or both. Arizona newspaper headlines and limited investigation reveal recent examples of these abuses and more. The answer to this question necessitates that a careful and rational inquiry be made of any potential acquisition of a water company, or existing wells, or other options, based upon the quality and condition of the asset and resultant services to be purchased, as well as the financial burden or cost of such an acquisition. In layman’s terms, be careful not “to buy a pig in a poke” without first making sure you can afford the pig and, secondly, that the pig will perform at the level that you expect.   

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