12/30/2013 1:11:00 PM A Look Back at 2013 Economic and sustainability issues dominate Clarkdale year-end priorities
Mayor Doug Von Gausig
The Verde River @ Clarkdale project, a lease secured from Phoenix-based mining company Freeport-McMoRan in May gives the town a 90-acre river access point near Tapco that will serve as the upriver anchor park starting in 2014. Improvements to Tuzigoot were also made, including construction of a handicapped accessible path.
The town of Clarkdale saw the year end with the completion of two major projects: The wastewater treatment plant, and the replacement of about 10,000 feet of steel and asbestos concrete water main that had been in use since the early 20th century.
Mayor Doug Von Gausig said the civil union ordinance that went into effect just before the year's end was a huge milestone, along with many others that were reached during the course of the year.
"The biggest, most important project finished this year was the completion of a new wastewater treatment plant, which will allow the town to become vastly more water-sustainable in the future," Von Gausig said.
It's been a full year since the Sustainable Clarkdale Initiative led to the town becoming one of Arizona's solar communities, with solar electric and hot water installations on 5 percent of its homes. According to a year-end wrap up provided by Town Manager Gayle Mabery, another 43 homes have followed in 2013, bringing the penetration of solar to 10 percent in Clarkdale.
Furthering the Verde River @ Clarkdale project, a lease secured from Phoenix-based mining company Freeport-McMoRan in May gives the town a 90-acre river access point near Tapco that will serve as the upriver anchor park starting in 2014. Improvements to Tuzigoot were also made, including construction of a handicapped accessible path.
Kids at Clarkdale-Jerome School were able to enroll in a new Clarkdale Kids Conserve Program this year, the result of a partnership with the Verde Natural Resource Conservation District.
A Walton Family Foundation grant is funding the development of a Water Resource Management Plan for the town. Since starting the project this year, the town has held community education workshops led by water experts and projecting water demand out to 2075.
"In conjunction with the new plant, we are working on an ambitious new water management plan that (will) help us use our water more wisely and efficiently, and will finally give us the capacity to attract new businesses that have the same sustainable vision as Clarkdale," Von Gausig said.
On July 1, the end of a 10-percent furlough that had been in place since Jan. 1, 2009, brought town employees back to 40 hours each week. Clarkdale's bond rating was upgraded to "AA" by Standard & Poors, and was the first in the state to report its finances to the state's transparency website.
Colby & Powell CPA accountant Scott Graph has been auditing the town since 2009. During the Dec. 10 council meeting, he said Clarkdale was in a much better place financially than at the end of FY 2009, when the general fund was negative by $9,000.
"It took a lot of good decisions over these years," Graph said during the meeting.
This was the town's first full year with an economic development director on staff. Under Jodie Filardo, town codes were updated to increase business growth, the town adopted an economic development plan and two businesses joined the handful already downtown. Four Eight Wineworks opened in October, and the Copper Art Museum started officially giving tours on Dec. 1.
The town was one of seven Arizona agencies to receive a four-year, $125,000 grant to fund a school resource officer at CJS under the U.S. Department of Justice's School Oriented Policing Services grant program.
A new election cycle takes effect in 2014, eliminating March and May. Three members of the town council will have their terms extended until November, when the rest of the council is up for re-election.
Looking to 2014, Von Gausig said community leaders are going to continue studying ways to "live within our means" when it comes to water, while promoting natural resources like the Verde River, the small-town atmosphere and scenic beauty.
"The Clarkdale Water Management Study will help guide our decisions and discover new ways to become water-sustainable in the years to come," Von Gausig said. "Our greatest goal is to serve our citizens and businesses well without doing any further harm to the flows of the Verde River."