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11:37 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Prescott Valley Town Council winds up budget session

PRESCOTT VALLEY - The Town Council on Thursday wrapped up the two-day work/study meetings on the draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year by listening to more presentations.

The council started Thursday with presentations from the two managers who are budgeted for more employees in 2008-09: Library Director Stuart Mattson and Judge Keith Carson of the Magistrate Court.

The library will expand from 16.5 to 27.25 employees and the Magistrate Court will grow from 8.6 to 9.6 employees if the council follows the recommendations in the draft $92 million budget. The Management Services Department staff prepared a budget about $19.5 million lower than that for the 2007-08 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The additional library employees will come to work during the final quarter of the fiscal year, Mattson told the council.

"We want to get professional librarians on board," he said.

The library staff will vacate the third floor of the Civic Center when they move into the 52,000-square-foot building that is under construction on the Civic Center grounds. The library is outgrowing the 13,000 square feet on the third floor.

The new library, which also will house offices and classrooms for Yavapai College, is due for completion in April 2009. Mattson said staff will move into the new building in July 2009.

"We will be working with a vendor for the opening-day collections," said Mattson, who has been on the job more than 20 years.

The proposed budget for the library is $17.2 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

By contrast, the proposed budget for the magistrate is $599,718.

The court, which handles traffic citations and misdemeanor offenses, is experiencing an increase in volume thanks to photo-radar enforcement. Carson's budget projects the number of civil traffic filings to increase from 19,000 this fiscal year to 24,765 in 2008-09.

Responding to a question from Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye, Carson said that he does not know whether an additional employee would increase revenue.

Presentations followed Carson's chat from Public Works Director Norm Davis, Capital Projects Coordinator Kim Moon, Utilities Director Neil Wadsworth, Water Resources Manager John Munderloh and Management Services Director Bill Kauppi.

Public Works receives proceeds from Highway User Revenue Funds that come from the tax of 18 cents a gallon on gasoline. Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said a proposal at the federal level for a "gas tax holiday" would devastate municipal finances. He added the Legislature has proposed using HURF money to pay for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Tarkowski previously announced that he had frozen new capital projects this past October because he anticipated lower revenues.

However, Moon presented a budget summary for 2008-09 for 28 capital improvement plans valued at $26.2 million. That compare with $53 million for 65 of the capital plans for 2007-08.

Moon explained after her presentation to the council that the freeze applies to projects that the General Fund and impact fees finance. She added grants would pay for a majority of the projects in 2008-09.

The council is scheduled to adopt the tentative budget May 22 and the final one June 26. Mayor Harvey Skoog did not attend the meetings Wednesday and Thursday because he was on vacation.

Contact the reporter at khedler@prescottaz.com