12/18/2013 9:50:00 AM Legislators raise key issues with Town Council
Trib file graphic
The Prescott Valley Town Council listened to the key issues on the minds of three legislators during its special work-study meeting Thursday evening. The cloud of the nation's $17 trillion deficit cast a bleak mood while generalized discussions revolved around the Child Protective Services crisis, crumbling roadways and education program cuts generated by the budget sequestration deal.
House Speaker Andy Tobin, District 1 Rep. Karen Fann and District 1 Sen. Steve Pierce all agreed that there is not enough money to go around and the sequestration severely handicaps all state programs at every level. Pierce cited the uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports at CPS as his main concern. Tobin is worried about the impact of education funding cuts, and stated that the area needs to generate more jobs so that, in turn, more tax revenue could benefit the system.
Rep. Fann raised her concerns about Highway Users Revenue Funds going by the wayside, as it's critical that state highways receive necessary improvements to ensure the safe transport of goods and services that sustain the economy, she said.
At the local level, town department heads presented their items of interest to the lawmakers. Town Manager Larry Tarkowski led off by asking state officials to "keep your fingers out of our money," referencing the town's state-shared revenues. These monies go into the town's general fund, which covers most town operations. "Please don't pass anything that is going to impact us in a negative way," Tarkowski said.
HOME Program Community Development Director Richard Parker took to the podium and spoke about how the program provides funding to improve local housing projects. HOME is the largest federal block grant for creating affordable housing for low-income households, Parker said, noting that the local economy benefits by receiving program funding because dollars are placed in the pockets of workers assigned to a rehabilitation project, and in turn, those dollars are put back into the economy. Since it seems doubtful those program funds will be available next year, Parker said, perhaps the reestablishment of housing trust fund dollars could help toward even minimal housing improvements such as a water heater replacement.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian Witty asked the legislators consider reinstating the fund that once dispensed millions of dollars from lottery ticket sales benefiting conservation and preservation efforts. Those monies helped the town acquire the Mountain Valley Park property, its amphitheatre and aquatic center. In addition, the money secured the Fain Park area along with the means to preserve the historic Barlow-Massicks home on site. Witty said the town's recreational facilities are economic development tools, as businesses seek quality-of-life benefits when choosing where to locate.
Public Works Director Norm Davis said his department has had a tough job for the past six years due to limited revenues coming in from the Highway Users Revenue Fund - a program that is designed to distribute money to cities and towns for roadway construction and improvements. "In Prescott Valley, we use every bit of that money," Davis said. He mentioned also that he appreciated the HURF Swap Program that was implemented to help communities without the extra costs that go along with federal funding.