Clarkdale Town Council Q&A: Round 3 -- Bill Regner
Question 1: In recent years, Clarkdale has closed its municipal pool. The community library is now a joint venture with Yavapai County. Most recently, the town council voted to co-locate its municipal court, and share its magistrate, with the Verde Valley Justice Court. Have these decisions been in the best interests of the community? Do you support these decisions? Are Clarkdale residents receiving less in return for their tax investment in Clarkdale municipal government than they have received in past years?
Clarkdale’s town government responded responsibly to the fiscal challenges of the Great Recession. Early on we eliminated what little budget fat we had; reductions in force, department reorganizations, and work hour reductions soon followed.
Our decisions on the pool and library, while not decisions that we desired to make, were in the best interest of the community. Estimates to make the necessary repairs to the pool exceeded $1 million. Although a valued amenity, the library serves a very small portion of the community. With significant financial challenges to providing essential services utilized by greater numbers of Clarkdale residents, difficult decisions had to be made. The consolidation and co-location of municipal courts embraced by Clarkdale demonstrated leadership in a national trend due to constraints on small town budgets.
Clarkdale residents actually receive more in return for their tax investments when factoring in the loss of state shared and other revenues.
Question2 : In recent years, the Clarkdale and Jerome police departments discussed sharing personnel and responsibilities to ensure both communities had 24-hour patrol service? Should this be something the two towns pursue? Are there other shared services/personnel opportunities that Clarkdale should pursue with Jerome and/or Cottonwood? Please give examples.
Regional solutions make a lot of sense in our rural Verde Valley.
Clarkdale and Jerome police departments’ command staff cover for each other when necessary and our patrol officers routinely back each other up on daily operations. Discussions regarding expanding our shared services in the future are on-going.
We contract with the Town of Camp Verde for our dispatch services. The Town and Clarkdale-Jerome School District share vehicle maintenance services. We have participated in the Cottonwood Area Transit and LYNX services for years. The Verde Valley Fire District acts as our Fire Marshal and handles all Fire Code compliance, as well as significant coordination on community events and emergency management issues.
I’d like to see us cooperate regionally on infrastructure funding solutions for broadband/bandwidth and for capturing and reclaiming effluent from the thousands of septic systems in the region perhaps through a regional bonding mechanism. We need that water!
Question 3: Unlike some other municipalities in the Verde Valley, Clarkdale levies a property tax for municipal operations. Do you envision Clarkdale ever having an economy in which sales tax would be sufficient and the town would not require a property tax? What does Clarkdale need to do to elevate its economic profile as it relates to sales tax generation?
The closing of the smelter in the early 1950s removed Clarkdale’s main economic generator. The 89A By-Pass re-routed traffic away from our historic downtown in the mid-1970s reducing retail sales tax revenues as businesses closed. These two events created huge revenue challenges for our small town. Thus, Clarkdale relies heavily on Primary property tax revenues to provide municipal services.
We are developing plans for key commercial areas with an eye towards economic development and increasing sales tax revenues. We continue to develop and enhance destinations for tourists to frequent and spend their money. I also think we need to explore and borrow ideas from New Urbanism models of high density multi-family workforce housing with mixed-use retail and commercial integrated into Live/Work/Play pedestrian-oriented environments. I would like to see our local businesses survive on local traffic and thrive on tourism. In time a healthy balance of property tax and sales tax revenue will result.