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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : letters May 26, 2016

9/17/2013 12:25:00 PM
Letter: My response to Mayor Joens' narrative: 'Hogwash'


Saving us from the economic down turn - REALLY Miss Joens?

Miss Joens' narrative defending Cottonwood Municipal Water and Wastewater's (CMWW) grossly unfair and inequitable water rate increase approved to go into effect Oct. 1, is unsubstantiated with any presentable hard facts.

To anyone who lives in the "outsider" areas (as we, who do not live with in the city limits and have no voting rights in city government, have been designated by CMWW) if you have witnessed CMWW performing water line repairs and upgrades other than the arsenic remediation required by Arizona, please step forward and report what you have seen to the VVPOA.

In the three-plus years we have lived in the Verde Valley we have definitely not witnessed any water line breaks and/or repairs in the Verde Village areas. We have been diverted or delayed many times by ongoing water line repairs and upgrades inside Cottonwood city limits, to wit the ongoing 12th Street project and Main Street repairs.

We have been told that 16 fire hydrants have been installed in the Verde Villages, and this will help reduce our homeowners insurance. It won't reduce anyone's insurance if we have not been informed that the hydrants have been installed and where they are located.

I became suspicious of the CMWW within two months of buying a home in the Verde Valley when my water bill was misread by CMWW to the tune of 5,000 gallons in their favor. It took a verbal confrontation at the CMWW office and my putting them on notice that I would be checking my own water meter from then on, and comparing their reading to the actual one, which I have done ever since. I suggest that all the "outsiders" start checking their water meters as well.

Miss Joens, in her lengthy narrative, would have us believe that the city's municipal bond rating was downgraded not because of city mismanagement, but because the city was withholding rate increases until the economy improved to protect us from undue monetary stress.

I say hogwash. CMWW in their cash cow business model failed to properly anticipate the cost of managing, upgrading and maintaining the water systems they were so bent on buying up and controlling. I say to a city government that authorizes a pay increase to their city manager at the same time their bond rating has been substantially down graded, something stinks like in Bell, Calif., and Detroit.

Maybe Miss Joens should contact Clarkdale's mayor and ask if she could send some of Cottonwood's council members and Cottonwood's manager to attend some of Clarkdale's meetings to see how to conservatively manage a city government and actually improve the municipal bond rating without taxing and otherwise gouging your neighbors and residents to death.

Cottonwood's bond degradation is a result of poor management that is a continuing Cottonwood government problem. Maybe the residents of Cottonwood need to ask themselves if they can afford some more feel-good projects like the dog park and greatly underutilized $17 million Rec Center.

Miss Joens only came close to the truth for the excessive water rate increases, especially on the "outsiders," when she lamented that the city is unable to collect the $900 in state-share revenue from each Verde Village home owner.

I can only suggest to Cottonwood city residents that instead of more rate, tax and fee increases maybe they should look more to a city government regime change. Maybe introduce some term limits for government officials.

Continuing the fight for justice and equality.

Alexander Gozdan

Verde Village

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: @ mary H- Having watched the meeting online- -

That may have been mentioned and the groups of staff and citizens probably touched on that in the over a years worth of meetings they had.

If you have not called the city directly to seek your answer then perhaps that would get you better results?

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

All right, I'll ask this again:

Does anyone know why a breakout of maintenance costs for each geographic area isn't feasible? "Outsiders" might not be screaming so much if the rate for variable water usage were the same for everyone, while each area paid a fixed maintenance fee based on actual costs that could be easily verified.

That way, those who do work at conservation wouldn't be penalized for doing so in the wrong location. The maintenance costs could be reviewed periodically. All water customers would have less reason to feel they were being used as cash cows.

This has been asked by many people, in many different ways, in many venues--including council meetings. It has yet to be acknowledged, much less answered.

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: Far from surrogate- just a citizen -

that is tired of the bashing... but realizing those bashing exist only to continue.

Washing our hands of the vocal minority that exist only to comment and never actually step out from behind the keyboards and participate in the system they are so determined to deride.

Enjoy your grousing... there is life to be lived and wasting it arguing with those that ignore reason and logic is a waste of precious time.

refreshing to know that you all only have as much power as you are given by those who entertain you... weight off our shoulders for sure.

See you in the real world...or not.

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Where doe's the mayor reside?

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Wow, wow, wow ....

What Mayor Joens' surrogate wrote above (Wow... just wow!") - is only partially correct when she (oops, I mean, they) says, "the City of Cottonwood is still carrying the bond load for Clarkdale's water system. Easy to get a better rating when you don't owe the money for your assets."

The truth is that the Town of Clarkdale pays monthly payments to Cottonwood for their part of the bond. Clarkdale owes the money for their water utility assets, like any other borrower, and this obligation is taken into account by bond raters, auditors, etc.

Cottonwood is not "carrying Clarkdale's load." Far from it. In the interests of lower overall bond payments, they and Clarkdale agreed at the time of the bond issuance to write a single bond that both cities would pay back. Cottonwood does not carry any of Clarkdale's load.

Cottonwood would not have a poor bond rating if they had lived up to the terms of their bond - to increase water rates sufficiently to have enough income to make the payments plus enough to provide a buffer. They just didn't have the political will to do what was necessary. This has nothing to do with their relationship with Clarkdale.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Is Verde Village Unit 8 exempt from extra increase?

Supposedly this discriminatory rate increase was justified because it costs more to service areas outside the city limits.

But if the portion of Verde Village Unit 8 that is within the city limits isn't included in the extra increase, then this argument is in fact "hogwash."

(Full disclosure: Unit 8 within the city limits is where the mayor lives).

Perhaps Mayor Joens, Doug Bartosh, or Dan Leuder would care to explain how providing water to a house 50 yards away from the city limit costs so much more.

Short answer: it doesn't.

Using the city limit as the criterion is in fact discriminatory, arbitrary, and unnecessary.

Any increase is unnecessary for that matter, given the profit margin already built into this system, and providing it is managed competently.

They just chose to stick it to Verde Village and Verde Santa Fe, for one very simple reason first and foremost.

Because they could get away with it.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Wow... just wow. -

Seems that the writer is long on resentment and short on facts.

They seem to forget that while they place Clarkdale on a pedestal, it just implemented a property tax increase per an article in the paper And don't forget that the City of Cottonwood is still carrying the bond load for Clarkdale's water system. Easy to get a better rating when you don't owe the money for your assets.

And in the 3 years you have lived in the valley how many council meetings did you attend? feel free to go and review them as we have, online at the city website or even on that youtube. You would see the public meetings where the council people decided to hold rates down because folks were hit hard enough already. See government does not work if you only get interested in and curse it when it does something that affects you directly. Folks need to participate before they have an issue not after the fact.

To compare this place to Bell Calif. is a joke and borders on slander. Do your homework and you would know this.

Alot of us folks that have been here more than a few years are amused and frustrated by those that roll in 3 years ago and decide they are the new guard and are going to 'fix this place'. Regime change? Hah...your future reference there are term limits. they are called elections and they happen every couple years. Of course if you actually voted here you would know that already.

This place was just fine before you got here, and here is relative since you don't even live in the city, yet you lambaste the city like you own it. Take your issues up with the folks you voted for, not our city.

If you liked it enough to move here then it should be just fine the way it was before you got here.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Elaine Farr

I agree that the water rate raise is unreasonably high. I also want to express my disapproval of that, and also once again question why, when our borrowing ability is in question- why on earth does the City council insist on moving forward with the supposed 'upgrade' of sewer- in a flood plane of the Verde River, when there is no clear evidence yet presented that indicates it is needed or will help the citizens of this good town. Again I oppose it, and hope that others will also, and that the city will step back from such an expensive project that has no clear reason to be. Almost like a bridge to nowhere?

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