TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Sun, Aug. 18

Letter: Haven’t we had enough of this city government?

Editor:

I attended last Wednesday’s information meeting on the proposed annexation by Cottonwood of ten square miles of State Trust Land and I would like to comment on the information at that meeting and on Friday’s Verde Independent article about the meeting. I would have liked to register my “boos” at the meeting but try as I might at the meeting I could not seem to be recognized by Mr. Johnson.

This could be because of my previous vocal opposition to the city spending to date of about $1.3 million of current city taxpayer dollars to subsidize the developers of this land.

Today’s taxpayer’s subsidizing the building of future brand new homes to compete with the houses today’s taxpayers are now own and further drive down the value of today’s homes.

Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer homeowner do you want to see your taxes go up to subsidize a developer in the future? That developer will probably be able to offer a brand new home for less than you owe on your home. This is happening now in our area, new homes selling for less than the mortgage on older homes in the same development.

The presenters at the meeting repeated that the “highest and best use” for this land is development and that development will surely come in 10-20 years. Well Arizona became a state about 100 years ago (and I came to these parts about 65 years ago) and by golly the “highest and best use” I’ve seen of that land is raising cows, coyotes and antelope.

Mr. Dietrich of the State Land Trust wants to see dense development of this land because presumably it would bring more money to the Trust that way. Well I’m not sure that selling that land is in the best interest of the trust of the people of this state. Ninety percent of the trust land has been sold off already for hundreds of millions of dollars.

The interest from that trust funds schools and other beneficiaries like prisons. If the trust wasn’t there, the legislature would have to fund these things anyway. And recently when the stock market collapsed, the fund representing 90 percent of the land left to it was nearly half wiped out. How much better off would we taxpayers have been to have this valuable land back now from the developers to which it was sold?

Much importance was placed on the various population estimates 23,000, 12,000 or 19,000. This surmising reminded me of the old saying about dreamy speculation “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Now whether it’s angels or residents there isn’t going to be mega thousands of new people out there because there isn’t water.

Cottonwood can barely meet its current commitment of water to existing homes. The city bought a well on the edge of the trust lands for about a million of our tax dollars presumably to support this development but it consists of a well and a little rusty steel tank that looks like it could support a good-sized cattle trough, maybe.

Even using 40 percent recycled water which is their plan and something that I wouldn’t mention to the buyers of these homes there isn’t water for more than a couple of hundred houses. Another concern for this well is if they over pump it and Spring Creek goes dry Salt River Project will shut it down because they own the surface water rights. If the pumping affects the surface flow it will have to stop. There goes our million tax dollars.

The subject of the well exposes another myth that Dietrich stated and city staff concurred in and that is that “the cost of development any more comes from the developer rather than the municipality” (taxpayer). No, that well could only be used for the new development because the pipeline to bring it to current residents would cost $5 million or more. So, to date, we the taxpayers have bought a useless million-dollar well, paid several hundred thousand dollars to Mr. Johnson of Coe & Van Loo for his pretty pictures (and little else), not to mention all the staff time. Our city manager and planning department and utilities department and city engineer all running around planning for the 23,000 new homes and meanwhile there is raw sewage flowing in the alley behind Main Street today.

This is a routing occurrence in Old Town. At least I only had to walk half a block to tell city staff about it. Last time the city “fixed” that line by Kactus Kates and Ledbetters raw sewage shot six feet out of our toilet. This time before we closed, we duct-taped the toilet shut. Hope that helps. Anyhow you see my point, the cost of development, this time and every time, comes from the taxpayer and not the developer or new buyer.

Fellow taxpayers haven’t we had enough of this city government?

Bob Donahue

Cornville

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