Originally Published: December 12, 2018 6:07 p.m.
The Town of Chino Valley plans to declare a special election early next year, to be held in May, to ask residents two questions.
The first question would address a proposal for a property tax to pay for road maintenance and repair.
At an October meeting, the Town Council approved beginning a dialogue between the community and the town regarding a road maintenance plan and how to pay for it.
The hope is to treat every road in Chino Valley at least once every seven years and maintain all 153 miles over 20 years, Public Works Director Frank Marbury said at the meeting. The cost would add up to $32,500,000 over those two decades, coming out to about $1.6 to $1.7 million per year, Marbury said.
Finance Director Joe Duffy said that after paying for things like salaries, equipment and fuel, the town has about $400,000 left in its Highway User Revenue Fund budget.
At a community meeting Wednesday, Dec. 5, Duffy said that staff has looked at several options including a bond. The problem with a bond would be that while the town can borrow $5 million every couple of years, interest has to be paid on it, he said. A lot of roads would get done fast but the cost of interest would outweigh the desired intentions, Duffy said.
“Pay as you go is the cheapest way,” he said.
Additionally, Chino Valley will have growth and staff is looking at the town as it is currently, Duffy said. New homeowners will pay the same per year as what current homeowners will pay, he said.
All the money brought in from the property tax would be used exclusively for road maintenance and construction, Duffy said in October.
If it passes the May election, results would be seen pretty soon as the town has contracts in place contingent on the proposal passing, said Town Manager Cecilia Grittman.
The other question has to do with water and the opportunity for purchasing the water companies in Chino Valley not owned by the town, Grittman said. Chino Valley is currently a sales tax-driven community and filling the town’s infrastructure footprint is important for its sustainability, she said.
There are five water companies in Chino Valley, three of which are private and two of which are municipal, owned by the City of Prescott and the Town of Chino Valley, Grittman said.
“We have already done appraisals on all of the companies,” she said. “We’ve already talked with all of them about our wanting to buy them.”
The reason it’s coming to a vote is because a recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court states there needs to be express authority from the residents of a municipality to purchase a water system, Grittman said.
It’s more of a housekeeping thing, Duffy said. The customers the purchases will bring in will pay for the debt incurred to buy the systems so rates won’t rise, he said. Further, the town can break even while the private companies have to make a profit, Duffy said. The Town of Chino Valley can be more efficient and do a better job, he said.
Resident Lisa Emory was at the Wednesday meeting and said she was a little torn about the proposal for a property tax.
“I think it’s important that the roads get taken care of because it does add to the overall property value … but them I’m not super fond of new taxes either,” Emory said. “So it’s a bit of a quandry.
At the same time, water is a big issue for Arizona and it’s important that the town does secure water, she said.