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Wastewater fees in Chino Valley to decrease as of July 1

The Chino Valley Wastewater Treatment Facility on Rodeo Road in the Old Home Manor area. The Chino Valley Town Council has reduced the fees for wastewater again. (Les Stukenberg/Review, file)

The Chino Valley Wastewater Treatment Facility on Rodeo Road in the Old Home Manor area. The Chino Valley Town Council has reduced the fees for wastewater again. (Les Stukenberg/Review, file)

With April 15 looming large for many taxpayers, the notion of getting money back from a government agency is likely to be welcome news.

So Chino Valley water users should be happy to hear the Town Council opted to drop its monthly wastewater rates from last year’s $62.14 to $60, or a 3 percent decrease as of July 1.

This is the second year in a row those rates have been reduced as growth has enabled the town to be able to lower rather than increase rates.

In 2013, Chino Valley wastewater rates were at $79.02 per month, according to an analysis provided by Finance Officer Joe Duffy.

Duffy explained to council members the fees have been carefully reviewed and it was deemed appropriate to offer a decrease to remain competitive with other towns and cities in the state. In a resolution unanimously approved by council members, it states that these rates are suitable to cover town costs while still giving residents a financial break.

As of last year, Chino Valley’s wastewater rates were 65 percent higher than the average rate in Arizona and 28 percent higher than other systems in the area.

A study of rates last year indicated that each $1 in rate reduction reduces the annual cash flow by an average of $24,000 a year.

Even with this decrease, Duffy said the expectation is that the town will generate some $322,500, making it a healthy fund. This is far different than in past years when there was a deficit as high as $275,000.

The town now has a $700,000 reserve fund to cover emergency costs, Duffy said.

With this change, residents are spending about $102 a month for water and sewer based on an average of 7,500 gallons per month, a rate still slightly higher than the average in the Quad Cities and statewide.

The average Arizona homeowner pays $80.95 and in the Quad Cities the average is $97.69, Duffy said.

Council member Lon Turner favored the decrease, voicing hope in the next five years the rate will drop to about $55 so as to be closer to the state average.

“We want to do what we said we would do,” Turner said.

“Looks like a good move to me,” declared Mayor Darryl Croft.

In other business,

• The council opted to make no change to the town’s tax code as it relates to manufactured housing.

Two years ago, the council reduced the “transactional privilege tax rate” for manufactured housing from 4 percent to 2 percent, Duffy said.

The reduced tax rate coincided with a growth in the business and growth in purchases, Duffy said. In 2015, gross receipts for that industry in Chino Valley totaled $2.1 million and now they are up to almost $11 million. In 2018, there were 108 such homes sold, 31 of them leading to a local building permit and the rest going out of the area, Duffy said.

Clearly, Duffy said the rate reduction impacted the growth of that industry.

With that in mind, council members again unanimously agreed to retain the tax rate as is rather than conduct a public hearing to consider an increase.

“I think 2 percent is fine,” Council Member Mike Best said. “We’re still making more money … leave it and we can re-evaluate in a year or two.”

“I don’t see any downside,” Turner said. “Local businesses are doing better and the town is doing better.”

• Town Manager Cecilia Grittman highlighted the process for the May 21 special election ballot question related to allowing the town to acquire up to five local water systems. If this ballot measure passes, the community is enabling the town to buy the water companies; it does not compel the town to do so.

In 2000, the town voted on a measure that would allow the town to acquire private water companies, but a later lawsuit stated that municipalities must specifically identify any water companies they might wish to acquire. This election was scheduled to clarify the wishes of members of the community as it pertains to the town’s ability to acquire water companies in the future.

Voter information packets are to be mailed out on April 16 with voter registration to close on April 22. On-site voting will be available at the Yavapai County Administration offices on Fair Street in Prescott as of April 24; Town Hall will have a drop box available until 7 p.m. on May 21.

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