Camp Verde Town Council Q&A: Bill LeBeau
QUESTION: As you consider both the short term and the long term, what is the most responsible way for council to be caretakers of the community’s tax dollars?
Camp Verde town government has a spending problem. The recently adopted tentative budget spends over 10 million more dollars than the town expects to take in. Rapidly accumulating debt will cost Camp Verde taxpayers 1.5 million dollars this year just to make the payments. That’s more than double the payments required just a few years ago.
The fiscal year 2018 - 2019 budget increases payroll costs by 10.4 percent. We are spending $6 million this year to employ just under 100 people. Our debt to asset ratio stands at 52 percent. The total amount we owe our creditors represents $1,300 for every man, woman and child living in town. This level of borrowing and spending is unsustainable and is bound to result in higher taxes, fee increases, and service reductions.
The council is now discussing the purchase of the Camp Verde Water System. It may well be a good idea to own our own water utility, but it is going to require a lot more borrowed money to make this happen. Spending priorities need to be identified. We cannot afford to continue spending taxpayer money like is currently being done.
QUESTION: With the cancellation of Cornfest, please explain the importance of Pecan and Wine Festival, as well as Fort Verde Days, and what you believe the Town’s responsibility is in keeping those events alive?
Events that bring neighbors together to celebrate community are vital to the health of any town. The loss of this year’s Cornfest is truly lamentable. Large events like Pecan and Wine, Fort Verde Days, and Cornfest require a tremendous amount of effort from many people. It feels to me like volunteerism is on the wane throughout society and unless we are able to develop some younger volunteers, we will likely see these type of events slowly fade away.
Town governments should certainly support and facilitate festivals and fairs, but I believe the overall responsibility for these gatherings lies with citizens and civic organizations. I’d like to encourage the reestablishing of a variety of citizen committees to coordinate efforts and promote wider participation in town affairs.
QUESTION: For some, Camp Verde is a community on the verge of significantly growing its economy. For others, Camp Verde is a bedroom community and needs to stay that way. Please explain your desire for Camp Verde’s future.
Camp Verde, like all healthy communities, will continue to experience growth. One of the major responsibilities of municipal government is to manage such growth intelligently. There appears to be ample space around our town to accommodate new industry, housing, farming, ranching, and retail. As the town manages its continued development, I want to be very sure that we don’t lose the unique character of our community. There are hundreds of towns in the American West that have been developed into modern retail centers with the attendant congestion and noise problems. We should welcome our future but take great care that Camp Verde will always reflect the character of its foundation.