3/1/2013 7:53:00 AM Home Rule gives Prescott Valley staff more flexibility in establishing budget
Ken Hedler Special to the Tribune
Editor's note: Prescott Valley voters will decide two ballot measures March 12 in addition to choosing a mayor and electing three members to the Town Council.
Proposition 422 is called the Alternative Local Expenditure Limitation, also known as Home Rule. Proposition 423 is for the General Plan 2025 update.
The town government adopted home rule in 1981, and voters have approved it every four years since 1985.
More than 80 percent of the electorate voted for home rule in 2009. The Town Council voted in October to submit it to the voters for the March 12 primary election.
Under voter approval of the home rule option, town officials estimate they will be allowed to spend more than $49 million in 2013-14, $53.9 million in 2014-15, $59.2 million in 2015-16 and $71.3 million in 2016-17, according to the summary analysis in the voter publicity pamphlet. The 2012-13 fiscal year ends June 30.
But if voters reject home rule, the state-imposed limitation would go into effect. Town officials estimate they would be allowed to spend about $43.3 million in 2013-14, $44.6 million in 2014-15, $45.5 million in 2015-16 and $46.4 million in 2016-17.
Failure to pass home rule could have dire consequences for the town, according to Councilman Rick Anderson. "My biggest issue is it would cut us back so far and so deep we would end up having to cut programs and probably lay people off it they rejected it," Anderson said. "I think we have done quite well with home rule."
Both Anderson and Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye said the public has a say in the annual budget process, even if few members of the public speak out during the public hearings.
"The important thing is we need to have control of our own budget, and citizens get to have a say in that," Nye said. "That is why it is so important to vote. It is not the politicians deciding."
Nobody submitted arguments against passage of Proposition 422, and there is no organized opposition. It costs $100 to submit a ballot argument.
However, several readers of the Courier posted critical comments online after the Courier reported in October that home rule would appear on the ballot March 12.
One of them is regular blogger Tom Steele, who served briefly on the council after winning a seat in the 2004 recall election.
Steele said he voted for home rule four years ago because of continuing growth in Prescott Valley but will not do so for this election.
"But we can say if the town is not going to grow in the next four years, we'll stay within the (state) standards," Steele said. "If they don't approve this, they (town officials) have to stay within the growth bounds set by the state."