Tue, July 23

Cottonwood News Update: Verde Valley Toy Run returns Nov. 11

The Verde Valley Toy Run, sponsored by the Moose Lodge, returns Saturday, Nov. 11. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

The Verde Valley Toy Run, sponsored by the Moose Lodge, returns Saturday, Nov. 11. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

Verde Valley Toy Run returns Nov. 11

COTTONWOOD – The Verde Valley Toy Run, sponsored by the Moose Lodge, returns Saturday, Nov. 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Toys will be given to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office for distribution to Verde Valley youngsters. All vehicles welcomed to participate. The End Party will have gift raffles from local merchants, 50/50, food and music.

Proceeds are being donated to the Verde Valley Teen Center in Cottonwood.

Registration, starting at 9 a.m., will be held at Wal-Mart, located 2003 E. Rodeo Dr. in Cottonwood. Cars running and kickstands up at 10:30 a.m.

The End Party will take place at the Moose Lodge, located 1051 S. Broadway in Clarkdale.

For more information, call Cheri Marx at 928-301-4485

Admission is $20 per driver with $10 for all passengers/riders plus an unwrapped toy donation.

Fall Carnival canceled

The Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Department slashed 3 percent of their budget across the board this year. Due to declining attendance and greater competition, it was decided that the Fall Carnival be cut. Fewer and fewer people attend each year, and families now have a wide variety of choices when it comes to celebrating Halloween in the Verde Valley. The department prefers to drop failing programs instead of cutting personnel, said Richard Faust, Community Services General Manager.

Is it possible for the carnival to return? Faust said that when something is cut from the budget, it usually stays cut.

What is being kept is the Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission’s Haunted House, which has proven to be successful at a minimal cost.

Haunted House earns revenue

The Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission’s Haunted House earned $3,602 in revenue this Halloween season. There are still outstanding receipts, but according to staff, they may be close to $2,500 in expenditures. Mingus Union theater students volunteer their time and talents to make it a spooky success.

Spring softball program canceled

Also cut from Cottonwood’s Park and Recreation budget is the spring softball program. It all has to do with the numbers. In 2012, there were 12 men's teams and eight women's teams. Over the years, the numbers have declined. In 2017, there were eight men's teams and four women's teams. Interest in softball has fallen in Cottonwood, and even nationwide, said Richard Faust, Community Services General Manager.

The reasons vary. In Cottonwood, many softball players are now coaching and supporting their children’s teams. Another speculation is that the game is just too slow for millennials, suggested Ryan Bigelow, Recreation Services Supervisor. This generation wants instant gratification, he explained.

When a program stops growing and starts declining, the department keeps an eye on it. Because of the attrition rate, it was decided that spring softball would be cancelled for 2018. But it’s not completely off the table.

Fall’s mens and coed softball program is still on. The department will look to see if more people join the fall softball program. Spring softball could return in the future if it is determined that there is enough interest for it.

Backwater and sewer fees

Pat Walker of Pat Walker Consulting LLC has been under contract to examine the Cottonwood’s water and sewer fees, and make recommendations regarding the possible re-institution of water and wastewater development impact fees, or alternatively, the institution of capacity fees.

Either of these fees would apply to new utility connections/customers only. Ms. Walker previously reviewed the supporting documentation the City had to move forward, and determined that the City’s Water and Sewer Master Plans needed to be updated in order to obtain a comprehensive inventory and analysis of the City’s current water and wastewater infrastructure, and to determine what if any system improvements, expansion, or other capital projects were needed to serve new growth over the next 10 to 15 years.

Since then, the City has completed the master plans, and there has been further study and discussion as to whether the City should move forward with adopting either development impact fees or capacity fees.

The Council directed staff to move forward with implementing the capacity fees for new utility hookups.

New city hall building

The city has been considering the development of a new city hall for many years and it has always seemed there were higher priorities or the funding was not available. The reasons a new city hall would be desirable is to develop a central location for city services. Currently, the city is spread out over 13 locations and buildings that makes it difficult for citizens that need to do business with the city. It has also been recognized that the city is impeding retail growth in the Old Town area by occupying several desirable buildings that could be used for retail growth.

Recently, the Mayor, City Manager and Deputy City Manager have been meeting with representatives of Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) to discuss the disposition of the old Rough Cut building at the corner of 10th and Main Streets. NAH would like to sell the building, but appreciating the city’s previous interest in the building, they would like to work with the city to see if a deal can be developed.

The city would only be interested in the largest building that is directly on Main Street and NAH would sell or lease the remainder of the properties. Initial discussions indicate that NAH is considering a sell price of the Main Street building for somewhere between $2.1 to $2.5 million. Preliminary estimates to complete the improvements inside the building are approximately $2 million.

There are other options that could be considered currently or in the future related to building a city hall that have not been studied in detail related to costs, but could prove more expensive than the Rough Cut building.

“The great news is that the council is looking into strategic ways to fund a future city hall, and we have already identified properties that we can sell so that we can set aside that money for the future investment. This is great progress for achieving our goal, even if the goal is still years away,” said Mayor Tim Elinski.

Vacant city-owned properties going on sale

There is a list of properties that the City of Cottonwood owns that the Council may want to consider selling and/or providing direction to staff regarding future use. These are properties that have been in the ownership of the city for many years and some have significant commercial value. Staff has reviewed the list of these properties and determined that none have future use for the city.

These properties could have substantial value on the open market and the real estate market has substantially returned from the drop during the recession. Some properties have substantial commercial value and could contribute to economic development. The acquired funds from the sale of the properties could be used to replenish reserve funds or to fund other projects.

The Council directed staff to move forward with the possible sale of vacant property around the city.

Use Tax adoption

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes, the City of Cottonwood hereby gives notice that it may adopt a use tax of up to 3 percent on certain tangible personal property, including vehicles and equipment used or stored in the City by individuals and businesses.

A public hearing will be scheduled. Justification and benefits of the tax include “minimal burden on local citizens, levels the playing field for local businesses with big ticket items, helps reduce some tax leakage to other communities, helps collect taxes on large ticket items purchased over the internet, no additional cost to the City, and provides an estimated additional revenue to the City of $75,000.

Upcoming action items this month for Cottonwood City Council

Council will hear a presentation from Nicole Branton from Coconino National Forest on the new Forest Plan proposal.

Council will be considering a resolution to approve the Arts, Culture and Entertainment District.

Council will consider approving the Commercial Operating Standards for the airport.

Council will be interviewing new members to the Historic Preservation Commissions this month.

During the work session this month, Council will discuss the city hall concept and potential options for moving forward with this project. Council will discuss the contract employee evaluation forms again.

Cottonwood City Council updates for October

The Council approved resolutions to appoint Ann Shaw and Doug Hulse to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The Council approved awarding a contract to Adkins North America, Inc., to conduct a detailed study of the Approximate A Zone encompassing Old Town Cottonwood, the surrounding neighborhoods and Del Monte wash.

The Council approved a revolution to appoint Kathryn Turney as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission.

The Council approved the participant agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office for the 2017 Certified Local Government Historic Preservation pass-through grant with a city match of $8,000. Council Member Deb Althouse voted no.

Council Member Deb Althouse volunteered to be the alternate Council representative to the city’s personnel board, and Council Member Kyla Allen volunteered to be the alternate Council representative to the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition.

The council directed staff to move forward with implementing the capacity fees for new utility hookups.

The council directed staff to use their recommended list of repairs to start addressing the drainage issues around the city.

The council directed staff to look at options for a new city hall at the Rough Cut building on the corner of 10th and Mingus.

The council directed staff to move forward with the possible sale of vacant property around the city.