Michael Mathews seeks seat on Cottonwood City Council Q&A
• Age: 55
• Years in Arizona/Verde Valley: 14
• Professional (and military) history: I have worked for one of the largest water districts in the United States.(Valley Center Water District in Valley Center, CA). Several years as a residential electrician. 10 years as a truck driver. 14 years as a real estate developer,broker/investor. Four in the USAF as an aircraft maintenance specialist (honorably discharged)
• Education: HS graduate. USAF after HS.
• Elective and Advisory Experience: Commissioner on Cottonwood’s Historic Preservation Commission.
• Civic Affiliations: Delivery driver for Meals on Wheels. Habitat for Humanity (Critical Home Repair Team and Wheel Chair Ramp Build Team). American Legion Post 25 in Cottonwood. Past Deacon at Cottonwood Bible Church, including participating in preparing and monitoring of the annual budget.
Question 1: How would you characterize the operations of Cottonwood’s city government? What are the city’s strengths and what are its most noticeable weaknesses?
The ship has lost its way and run aground.
Strengths - The rank and file employees who keep our services running, from the recreation center and library, and to public works and administration. They are the backbone that keeps our city running even though you may not know or see many of them from day to day. We have some really great people.
Weaknesses - A top-heavy salary structure where a large chunk of the budget goes while those at the bottom get crumbs. A city council that for too long has had a majority of members that represented city government and not the voters. This took a turn in the right direction in the 2016 election. Also the divisiveness of the us vs them from many on council and in government in regards to Cottonwood residents who live in or out of the incorporated city limits.
Question 2: The Cottonwood City Council has voted to increase the municipal sales tax levy by .5 percent. Do you support this tax increase? Why or Why Not? If you do not support it, what areas of the budget do believe are the best choices for spending reduction, and why?
I do not support it. I would support a .25-percent increase if the budget was cut comparably so as to make it a team effort. Why could we also not exempt groceries from the increase? It’s an undue burden to so many in our community.
Best choice for spending reduction: The $20 million plus personnel budget. You really must see what some of these people cost the city every year. Even many employees and staff know where the fat is and they are aware of how it affects their pay and benefits. The finance director who had a deputy city manager position created for him now costs the city $26,000 more this year than last, his salary and benefit package? $195,987.80 and there are three more over $200,000.
Question 3: What is your present/past involvement/participation with the City of Cottonwood and how does that experience best qualify you to serve the citizens of Cottonwood?
I have attended almost every city council meeting and budget session since 2016. I have met with many former and current council members and poured over years of budgets, meeting minutes and meeting videos to get up to speed on the history of how we got where we are now and trying to come up with a consensus of what we can do to steer this ship in the right direction beginning next year when we will be starting off with a new council and city manager.