Clarkdale Town Council Q&A: Round 3 -- Ben Kramer

Ben Kramer

Ben Kramer

Question 1: In recent years, Clarkdale has closed its municipal pool. The community library is now a joint venture with Yavapai County. Most recently, the town council voted to co-locate its municipal court, and share its magistrate, with the Verde Valley Justice Court. Have these decisions been in the best interests of the community? Do you support these decisions? Are Clarkdale residents receiving less in return for their tax investment in Clarkdale municipal government than they have received in past years?

Clarkdale is a compact limited resource community with a progressive mindset. Hard decisions have been made in response to economic changes and our staff is always looking for ways to stretch resources. Partnering with the County for library services saved resources and reinvigorated library involvement, thanks to the amazing Friends group. The Court co-location lowered the costs by sharing facilities and Clarkdale should be proud to promote smart regional cooperation. The pool was a big part of many childhoods, including mine. Unfortunately, the cost of keeping the pool safe, operating, and accessible to all our citizens was too prohibitive to continue. The decision to cap it served the dual purpose of providing a great plaza for events, and eliminating the safety hazard of an unsupervised pool. Change is tough, but innovation and responsible decisions are the best way to ensure the tax dollars from our citizens are not wasted.

Question2 : In recent years, the Clarkdale and Jerome police departments discussed sharing personnel and responsibilities to ensure both communities had 24-hour patrol service? Should this be something the two towns pursue? Are there other shared services/personnel opportunities that Clarkdale should pursue with Jerome and/or Cottonwood? Please give examples.

Shared services can be great ways to make smart use of employee time and municipal funds. The biggest questions to answer are what changes can occur after shared services begin. Right now, Clarkdale is lucky to have mutual automatic aid with Jerome and Cottonwood to help during non-patrol times, during concurrent calls, or when more resources are needed. Shared services have to potential to provide greater coverage and they are great ideas to consider carefully with input from the involved Chiefs and Town staff. To me, important questions in that process would involve making sure staffing levels see no decrease and seeing if there are efficiencies in combining services for all involved communities. Shared and combined services in any area would be great to consider if they can improve services or reduce costs to our citizens.

Question 3: Unlike some other municipalities in the Verde Valley, Clarkdale levies a property tax for municipal operations. Do you envision Clarkdale ever having an economy in which sales tax would be sufficient and the town would not require a property tax? What does Clarkdale need to do to elevate its economic profile as it relates to sales tax generation?

It’s great to imagine a time when sales tax would fund everything and no property tax would be required, and I would be in support of looking into it.

In terms of creating such an economic hub, I think the answer is not in having a few big sales drivers. I think it is in creating a social ecosystem where people are networked and involved and they are mixing work, recreation, and home all within our community.

People are coming to visit because it is a place where the locals have fun events and there is a vibrant atmosphere. I think that kind of community can appeal to a wide range of citizens.

Clarkdale is on its way with concerts, art shows, museums, block parties, river access points, movies, parks, special events, pickleball, and more and I look forward to see the list continue to grow.

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