Sun, Feb. 23

Cottonwood joins plea <br>to stop Big Chino pumping<br>Council also accepts bed tax amendment<br>

Linking arms with other municipalities in the Verde Valley, the City of Cottonwood approved a resolution protesting any pumping from the Big Chino Aquifer.

"It’s important that all Verde Valley communities stick together … and present a united, strong front," said Mayor Ruben Jauregui.

The City of Prescott and Del Rio Ranch have worked on an agreement to provide water to a proposed 4,000-home development. Prescott Mayor Sam Steiger proposed pumping water from the Big Chino, a right guaranteed by state law.

Many residents in the Verde Valley, meanwhile, believe that such pumping will adversely affect the Verde River, which has its headwaters near that aquifer.

Jauregui said no pumping should be done until all scientific studies of the area are complete. A recently released U.S. Geological Survey report purports to prove that decreased pumping at the Big Chino end over the years has increased the flow of the Verde River. Such a direct link has been debated hotly by Verde Valley and Chino Valley.

The state allocated funding for studies of the upper and middle Verde River. Cottonwood wants all of the evidence in before any decision on pumping is made.

In other business:

• The council accepted the final reading of an amendment to the city tax code. The changes affect the so-called "bed tax" or tax on lodging. That will be collected by the state, causing a 30-day delay in receipts, then forwarded to the Chamber of Commerce.

• The council hosted the first hearing on the Home Rule provision, which returns to the ballot in March. It is effective for four years, and has been approved by voters every time since 1981. A second hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

• The council approved a contract continuation with Waste Management. The contract increases from $1,157 per month to $1,230 due to additional trash bins being serviced.

• A bus parking zone was established in the public parking lot next to the former theater. One spot will be reserved for a bus within that lot to ease the parking difficulties on the street in Old Town.

• A 6-1 vote gave a weed and herbicide contract to Lynn Schnabel of Pine Country Weed Control in Flagstaff for work at the cemetery and Riverfront Park. Council member Randy Lowe, who said there was not enough evidence to indicate impact on ground water, voted against the award of contract.

• With the terms of Terry Fisher and Dottie Simonis ending on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the council made appointments to the positions out of five applications – including those of Fisher and Simonis. The council voted 6-1 to place Simonis, who was completing the term of Bill Schomburg, and Bill Jackson on the commission.

• The council also reappointed Thelma Fisher, Tyler Harding and Joan Lambard to the Library Board, and placed Mike Gardner, Charley Anderson and Matt Fabritz on the Design Review Board.

• The council voted to change its Community Development Block Grant, putting $13,000 reserved for sidewalk ramp improvements into the Willard Street project and committing city crews to repair the sidewalk ramps. Community Development Director Jerry Owen said the move would "greatly relieve the administrative burden."

• The council agreed to turn back a grant from the Arizona Department of Transportation and apply for a Federal Aviation Administration grant for $150,000. The city needs to seal coat the airport runway and update the 1993 airport master plan.

The FAA grant would require less city funding as the local match requirement is split between the city and ADOT.

• The council agreed to waive $11,370 in sewer impact fees for the proposed public safety building. Those fees were attached to the public restrooms and the fire station bays. The building to be constructed at 6th and Aspen streets will still have more than $25,000 in sewer impact fees.

• The council accepted a $11,164 bid from Syneco Systems for odor control at the wastewater treatment facility.

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