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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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4/23/2013 1:10:00 PM
Q&A on Cottonwood Permanent Base Adjustment

What is a Permanent Base Adjustment?

A Permanent Base Adjustment is an adjustment to the maximum amount of money the City would otherwise be allowed to spend under state law. It is a mechanism through which the City will, if approved by the voters, be able to maintain City services and programs at their current levels.

Why is the Question of a Permanent Base Adjustment on the Ballot?

The Arizona Constitution imposes expenditure limitations on all cities and towns in the state. These limitations are based on each municipality's actual expenditures in 1979-80. The Constitution also allows the voters of a city or town to approve a temporary or permanent adjustment to these limitations. As of September 2010, approximately 85 percent of all Arizona cities and towns - including Cottonwood - operated under either a temporary or permanent alternative expenditure limitation.

Like most municipalities in Arizona, Cottonwood has experienced significant growth since 1979. In fact, the City's population has nearly tripled in that time, from approximately 4,200 residents in 1979 to a current population of approximately 11,200. Moreover, the City now provides many services it did not provide in 1979, including a full-time, professional fire department; a municipal water utility; a wastewater collection and treatment system; a public library; a public transportation system; a municipal courthouse; a state-of-the-art recreation center; and a wide range of recreational programs and events for children, teens, adults, and seniors.

Each year, the City adopts a detailed budget that estimates the revenues that will be received in the coming year and allocates those revenues according to the needs and desires of the community, to provide the services and programs the City's residents expect. These services and programs, along with related/necessary capital improvements are planned according to careful projections and assessments about the community's needs and preferences, with input from the City's residents during the budgeting process and throughout the year. Through the proposed Permanent Base Adjustment, Cottonwood's voters will have the opportunity to decide whether the City should continue to provide the types and amounts of services it currently provides to its residents.

Every four years since 1981, the City's voters have approved a temporary adjustment to the City's 1979-80 base expenditure limitation, commonly known as "Home Rule." This time, the City is proposing that the voters authorize a permanent adjustment to the 1979-80 base expenditure limitation, to bring the City's annual expenditure limitations in line with the types and levels of municipal services the City currently provides, as opposed to those it provided 30 years ago. Future increases in the City's base expenditure limitation would be possible, but only if approved by the voters in the future.

What is the Fiscal Impact of Approving or Rejecting the Proposed Permanent Base Adjustment?

The City's current total expenditure limitation (under the current, expiring Home Rule authorization) is approximately $73.43 million dollars. (Because of state budgeting laws, this is the maximum amount of money the City can spend, but is not the amount it actually spends.) If the voters approve a Permanent Base Adjustment, the City's total FY 2014 expenditure limitation would be approximately $74.12 million dollars, which represents an increase of less than 1 percent over the current year's budget limit. If the voters do not approve a Permanent Base Adjustment, the City's total FY 2014 expenditure limitation will be reduced by approximately 60 percent, to approximately $29.16 million dollars, which will require significant cuts in services, programs, and capital projects throughout the City.

Will the Proposed Permanent Base Adjustment Increase My Taxes?

No. Approval of the Permanent Base Adjustment would only allow the City to spend the funds it currently has and reasonably anticipates receiving in the coming fiscal year. It does not authorize or cause the City to impose new or additional taxes, or to spend revenues it does not have or reasonably anticipates receiving.

What are the Consequences of a "Yes" Vote on the Proposed Permanent Base Adjustment?

Approval of the proposed Permanent Base Adjustment will enable the City to continue providing services to the community at their current levels, absent any significant decrease in anticipated revenues.

What are the Consequences of a "No" Vote on the Proposed Permanent Base Adjustment?

If voters do not approve the proposed Permanent Base Adjustment, the City's total expenditure limitation will be reduced from approximately $73.43 million dollars in FY 2013 to approximately $29.16 million dollars in FY 2014. This represents a reduction of approximately 60 percent in the City's current total budget capacity. Such a reduction would result in significant cutbacks in City services, programs and capital projects.

For further information on the proposed Permanent Base Adjustment or to request an informational presentation to your group, please contact: Jesus "Rudy" Rodriguez, Administrative Services General Manager, City of Cottonwood, (928) 340-2710,

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013
Article comment by: To Paul and Donna

You have identified that there are citizens in our community who live in poverty. This is an unfortunate fact and any action to help change that is great. Unfortunately, you seem to believe that by voting down the permanent base adjustment you are doing these citizens a favor. This is completely wrong. A no vote would mean the loss of the use of city parks and all city supported youth sports, there would be no rec center for people to take their kids to for exercise and fun. Do you think all the people struggling financially have private pools at home? How about the loss of the Cottonwood Area Transit System? How is that going to affect the members of our community without reliable transportation of their own? The Senior Center and Boys and Girls Club both serve people in our community who may have fixed or limited income and the City provides financial support to both. Is mandating a huge budget cut really going to help anyone or just hurt all members of our community regardless of economic level. This will especially affect those struggling to make it.

I vote YES so the city can continue to provide services to our community.

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013
Article comment by: To make 'Another reasons' point a bit finer- .

A no vote by those folks that are bitter at the city for whatever reason, would be cutting off ~their~ noses to spite the face of all the ~rest~ of the citizens.

And as 'Actual Control' has found... a yes vote actually asserts more control over the city spending than a bitter and short sighted no vote will.

Read the details and vote with your mind rather than your emotions.

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013
Article comment by: not thinking clear?

this is not about the city wasting money, this will only benefit or hurt our community.. vote no and we will have no library's or parks for our kids to play at, the rec center my grandkids love swimming at will be no more, why do people think they will " get back " at the city by voting no? the only people ur hurting by doing that is yourself and us as a community, hundreds of people will be laid off, and our city will be even more poverty stricken. lets make our town grow not hurt it.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Actual Control

Vote Yes for more control over the city budget. As I read it the permanent base adjustment locks the city into the newly established budget cap. Any increases in the future would require the support of voters. Home rule allows for unlimited budget growth for four years unchecked. I carefully watch the budget of the city and I will be happy to have a greater voice if this passes. A no vote just means loss of services and loss of control for voters.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Another reason? -

Another reason this may be coming up is the AZ state legislature messing with cities and towns elections schedules.

They are mandating that cities and towns conform to the national even year elections. This would place all city/town items on a partisan ballot that would be much longer and more complicated that a normal 'small town' ballot.

Going forward elections will just get more complicated.

In the end this is not about funds or taxes, this is about cities and towns being in control of themselves and not controlled by the state.

A no vote gives the state control of our finances... a yes vote keeps the control local.

For all those hoping to 'starve the beast'... you will actually just be 'cutting off your nose to spite your faces'.

If you want to change how things are done try attending a council meeting or running for a council seat rather than complaining to your keyboards.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Jackson

Thank you Mr. Hobbs for the census information and your thoughtful comments. I checked the census information online, and was astonished to find this fact:

Some 68% of single mothers in Cottonwood live in poverty. That is shameful.

The city is rich, and the people are poor. That is just wrong.

Until the city council is willing to address this by reducing or repealing the unnecessarily high rental tax and sales tax, we should VOTE NO on giving them any permanent increases in spending.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: As I read the article...

it sounds like fear mongering. The city has obviously not been restricted to a budget used over 30 years ago. Every four years the voters have the option to approve additional expenditures and they have done so.

Do you want to remove that option from the voters and give the city carte blanche to spend with no voter oversight?

BTW, I was talking with a telephone rep in another state who was astonished that we have to pay over 10% tax on basic food items. They thought that was against federal law!

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Jessica Heine

This is not an issue about tax rates or the uniforms and vehicles of the regional SWAT team. This is about our right as a community to set our own budget rather than have it mandated by antiquated state guidelines. Our city has increased and improved services over the past several decades without becoming over-encumbered by debt. This responsible management, I believe, will continue. I think a few people mistakenly think voting no will send a message to the city, but all it will do is severely handicap our community. If you want input in the city budget, get involved and share your ideas with the council, don't vote to destroy the financial structure of the city.

Keep our city operating and providing a vast array of services to all its citizens - Vote Yes!

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Baba Dez

Voting NO also means that when your single wide is burning down there will be no fire dept to help save you or your newspaper collections, it also means there will be no library or rec center for the youth and adults alike, also means that clean Arsnic free water u drink and bathe in wont be so clean anymore, I know we all hate the government but lets not be rediculous, think u live in poverty now? Wait until after u vote no and see how things look

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Melanie Corsette

Seriously Slater Slater?? You would want to restrict the city to a budget used over 30 years ago, and with about 1/3 the population? I am just wondering what motivates your thought process...

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Paul Hobbs

To be fair, this conversation should not just be about the city spending more, but also about how the people can keep more of their own money.

Census stats show over 20% of residents in the city of Cottonwood live in poverty.

The 20% poverty rate in Cottonwood should really be the headline of this story.

Median household income of all Cottonwood residents is about 32% less than the statewide average, according to census stats.

So the people of Cottonwood are relatively poor. But the city hits the little guy hard with a combined sales tax rate of over 10%, plus a regressive 3% tax on rental housing.

This rental tax hurts most the people who have the toughest time making ends meet each month.

No doubt there are single Moms in Cottonwood that during some months have to decide whether to pay the rent or put food on the table for their kids.

And while 1 in 5 in Cottonwood live in poverty, we see the city making such questionable expenditures as tens of thousands spent on public relations firms to brand the city as the "Sturgis of the Southwest".

We see police dressed up in paramilitary uniforms riding around in humvees.

They want to spend in the tens of millions (the price keeps going up) to build an overly extravagant and controversial sewage treatment plant, in a flood plain no less.

Do we really need all this? Or is there some way the city could cut back a bit to help the little guy?

The city council could to help out the little guy by running a leaner more efficient government, and reduce spending, instead of increasing it.

The city could maximize the help to its poorest citizens by repealing the 3% rental tax, and there'd still be plenty coming in. The revenue from retail like Home Depot and Walmart brings in close to a million each month.

Repealing the rental tax should be part of this discussion, as should reducing the sales tax rate back to 2.2%

Remember the city raised the sales tax rate from 2.2% to 3% when the economy went south a few years ago.

But now sales tax revenue has rebounded back beyond where it was before the downturn. Yet we see no effort on the city's part to reduce the sales tax back to where it was before.

So considering all this, my vote is no.

Voting no sends a powerful message to the city council that enough is enough with the increased taxing and spending.

Better idea is to let us keep a little more of our own money.

A no vote does not necessarily mean the city will have to make drastic cutbacks either. If this measure goes down, without a doubt they will come right back asking for a temporary 4-year increase, like they have been.

And that gives we the people the opportunity to review the city's expenditures with our vote every four years.

Vote yes and that opportunity goes away.

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Loblaw

Vote NO! Get rid of the paramilitary cop squad, the Hummers and half of the police force! We do NOT need 60 cops to catch teenage girls shoplifting at Walmart or harassing kids eating lunch at Fry's! We don't need drones or helicopters or bomb robots!

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: For Our City!!!!

Please Vote YES!!!! This article explains it so well, for our City to run smoothly, this is necessary! Vote for the future of our city!

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Really? No, really?

Really? According to the last paragraph, Cottonwood is willing to risk losing over half their spending capability? In an election that is not all that easy to predict? Really?

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Just vote no.

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