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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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6/6/2013 1:39:00 PM
Verde Village CAT transit funding may impair service

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- Cottonwood is looking at paring-back CAT transit service in the Verde Village area, outside the city. Cottonwood has been told that Yavapai County is willing to pay the city only $20,000 in a partnership agreement for operation of the CAT system outside the city past Godard Road.

"That leaves a $45,000 gap" in normal operational costs, complained Richard Faust, who oversees the CAT system under Community Services.

The transit service "adds to the quality of life for citizens," says Mayor Diane Joens, "but we can't do it alone."

"Our obligation is to Cottonwood residents and how many people want to subsidize services outside of town. I don't think it is fair," laments Karen Pfeifer.

"They are dictating to the city how much they will pay. We do very well and have a good relationship with Clarkdale and Sedona," said Joens.

Mike Norris, who administers funding for rural public transit in Arizona, admits service cuts are "not an unusual situation around the state, but Cottonwood is a very successful system and we want to see that continue."

He offered to help look at routes and sit down and negotiate with the city and county. "I would be happy to facilitate."

Faust says the fixed route in the village has about 16 to 20 users each day.

Council members suggested options including raising fares and cutting back the frequency of stops.

They agreed that any changes must be coordinated with the advent of "Taxi voucher" operations by the Verde Valley Caregivers in July, so that they are not left without services.

City Manager Doug Bartosh said, if we raise fees, we shoot ourselves in the foot because it affects how we are compensated in the federal grant formula.

Bartosh said the county proposal is budget driven; "They are saying "here is the amount that we can afford to pay."

The council agreed that staff should meet with the county and work out an agreeable solution within the county's budget.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013
Article comment by: if you don't like it then vote -

Wait- that's right you can't vote in the city unless you incorporate! Bummer.

And please- lets see your math on your assumption. You do know that a portion of the taxes paid to the city go back to the county through state shared revenues right?

If you had actually attended the meeting or watched it via internet or cable etc..., you might have had your concerns addressed- and you still could by contacting the city- rather than tossing a bombastic conjecture filled rant into the paper... but maybe that's not as fun as reality?

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013
Article comment by: Verde Village already pays more than their fair share

When Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens laments that the County is "dictating" to the city, she is only getting a taste of her own medicine.

Let's not forget Mayor Joens and the Cottonwood city council upped everyone's sales tax rate 36% a few years ago in response to the recession. Now that sales tax revenue has recovered, Mayor Joens and the council are dictating to everyone else that this tax increase is to apparently remain permanent.

So now Cottonwood is raking in close to a million dollars a month in sales tax revenue. The 11,000 or 12,000 people living in unincorporated Verde Village no doubt pay a significant portion of that.

How much? Let's just say the $45,000 gap Mr. Faust cites would be made up in only a matter of a few weeks by Verde Village residents alone.

And what do all these non-city sales tax payers get in return?

Mayor Joens likes to make the risible claim that nonresidents get to drive on city streets. Oh, boy!

And use the Cottonwood library. Gee whiz!

And the Rec Center, though the city dictates that nonresidents pay a higher fee.

But Verde Villagers have a choice here: if nonresidents start to boycott Cottonwood and take their business elsewhere, bet you'd see Cottonwood move real fast to start appreciating all these nonresident gift horses a little more.

Because after all, we know what happens when you look a gift horse in the mouth.

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