Tara Alatorre photo
Reviewing the figures—Vice Mayor Les Peterson (left) and Councilman John Crane took part in Monday’s budget workshop meeting in Carefree. Expansion of the town hall was a contentious budget item.
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Proposed Carefree budget includes town hall work
Tara Alatorre~ 4/16/2014
The Carefree Town Council put forward a proposed budget of $8.2 million for the town’s 2015 fiscal budget during a special workshop held on Monday.
The council will bring the 2015 proposed budget to May’s town council meeting for approval, and if approved it will go into effect this June.
Carefree expects to bring in $7.1 million in total revenues, leaving the town in the black by $106,323 for the 2015 fiscal year.
The biggest point of contention over budget matters among council members was whether or not to allocate funds to build a new town hall with an estimated cost of $1.5 million.
“It’s not a commitment, it just allows us to do something if we want to,” said Mayor David Schwan in support of including the new town hall budget item. “I think it is prudent to include this.”
Currently, the town council rents the town hall space. But with the lease ending in June 2016, the council needs to decide whether or not to renew a lease or take out a mortgage to build a new town hall chambers.
“We need someplace to go,” said Mayor Schwan.
The town of Carefree has been approved for a loan at an interest rate of 1.95 percent, and the yearly mortgage would be equal to the yearly rent the council pays at $50,000 a year, if the town moves forward on the building project.
However, just because the town hall expansion funds are allocated for 2015, the plans would still need to be drafted and approved by the town council at a later date, and Councilwoman Melissa Price said she did not intend on supporting it.
“I do not see a burning need to put a $1.5 million building in the budget,” Councilwoman Price said. “Plus, don’t we have an agreement with Cave Creek?”
Price was referring to the recent court consolidation where both towns spent money to improve the Cave Creek court building for both towns to use for council meetings.
Despite Price’s reservations on the need for a new town hall building, Mayor Schwan said he intended on asking the council to spend $3,000 on conceptual plans for the potential new town hall at the next town council meeting.
“With a lease, we don’t own the equity, we don’t own the assets,” said Councilman Mike Farrar about his interests in the potential town hall expansion.
Besides adding the town hall expansion, a new position was also included in the 2015 budget. The position would be an in-house marketing job focusing on strengthening the relationships between businesses and the town council and improving economic development to the town.
“We need boots on the ground,” said the town’s administrator, Gary Neiss, about the role the new position would play in Carefree. “I think we need someone seasoned, with connections. We get what we put in.”
Residents of Carefree can expect the proposed budget to be brought in for discussion and a vote on May 6 at 5 p.m. at Carefree Town Hall.