Thu, July 18

Clarkdale sends missive to D.C.<br>Council stays focused on land trade<br><br>

The Clarkdale Town Council continues to beat at Washington's door.

The majority of the board approved a letter drafted for congressional committee members concerning the proposed land trade between the Forest Service and Yavapai Ranch. Council members Ellie Bauer and Mike Bluff dissented in the vote 3-2 vote.

"I think we're aligned with Camp Verde and I think that's good," said council member Rennie Radoccia.

The letter urges Congress not to legislate the trade but instead to keep it in the Forest Service's National Environmental Policy Act process. It is a familiar refrain in the Verde Valley.

"The thrust of the letter is get it out of Washington. Bring it back here," said Mayor Andy Vircsik.

The town previously sent letters to Arizona's congressional delegation and to the Interior Department. The new letter itemizes the town's concerns about the trade. Those include equitable value, privatization of public lands, preservation of the foothills, impacts on the "natural and human" environments, and growth management.

"This letter is a thinly-veiled attempt to block the trade or delay the process, or at least frustrate the attempt," Bluff said. "This proponent has at least expressed a willingness to work with the town."

Radoccia said he wanted the language in the letter to be more direct and to specify its references to the Clarkdale General Plan. The letter, as drafted, pushes for an evaluation of the trade through the NEPA process rather than overtly expressing opposition to the trade.

"I would like to say, 'We don't support this – period,'" Radoccia said.

In other business:

o The council adopted the 2001-02 Budget estimated at $9.8 million. That includes $600,000 for the police department, up from the budgeted $584,000 last fiscal year. The department's actual expenses were $501,000. The fire department is budget for $216,000, an increase of 2.7 percent.

Not budgeted last year in the general fund, water is now scheduled for $25,000. In the enterprise funds, wastewater receives almost $2.6 million.

o The council approved changes to the town code to reflect recent changes in the election procedure. Voters supported the direct election of the mayor. In March 2002, that goes into effect with the election of one council member to a four-year term and the mayor to a two-year term.

In 2004, voters will two council members to four-year terms, one council member to a two-year term, and a mayor to a four-year term. There after a mayor will be elected every four years.