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Cave Creek OKs sales tax repurposing

Tara Alatorre~ 4/30/2014

At its regular meeting last week, Cave Creek Town Council unanimously agreed to use excess sales tax funds appropriated for maintaining the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area to acquire open land.
The council also supported easing the permitting process for building fences and approving rezoning requests.
The second reading of ordinance 02014-01, which authorizes the council to move excess sales tax funds to the general fund with a stipulation that half of the excess funds go towards “acquiring open space lands,” was met with some opposition from residents.
“The fact that there is an attempt to grab back that money is the kind of unanticipated consequence we tried to prevent,” said resident Mark Lepski. “Who determines whether there is excess money? And if there is excess money, someone is not spending enough.”
According to the intergovernmental agreement that regulates the operations of Spur Cross Ranch, Maricopa County Parks determines how much money is needed to maintain and operate the park, and the town of Cave Creek funds it through a 0.5 percent town sales tax.
Currently, the town is spending $18,000 a month on Spur Cross, with a significant amount of extra money sitting in coffers, according to the town’s manager, Peter Jankowski.
Town resident David Smith voiced his support for the ordinance.
“I think it is a fortuitous circumstance, instead of an unintended one,” he said.
Although some residents were skeptical about the motivations of the town council over the excess Spur Cross Ranch sales tax, council members, including Councilman Ernie Bunch, assured the public that their top priority was ensuring the preservation of the park and allocating more open space.
 “One of the goals of this council and town is to acquire more open space. We want more of what Spur Cross is,” Bunch said. “We are going to end up putting money into open space and keeping the same pristine manner that Spur Cross Ranch is.”
The council also unanimously agreed to ease restriction on the permitting process for building fences. Except for pool barriers, the new amendment would allow open fences not capable of retaining earth, such as chain link, pipe rail, barbed wire, split rail—or fences of similar construction up to 5.5 feet—exempt from a permit.
Vice Mayor Adam Trenk said that the amendment fit Cave Creek’s style.
“This is a rural community, and we have uses of our property that include livestock and chicken coops—all of which should be built without a building permit,” Trenk said.
In other town council news:
The council also unanimously agreed to let the Buffalo Chip permanently extend its patio 10 feet and rezoned the Carefree Highway Community Church Youth Center on the intersection of 50th Street and Carefree Highway as commercial land use.
The town marshal’s office also received unanimous approval to purchase a new service vehicle not to exceed $34,863 to replace a Dodge Durango that has over 140,000 miles with a radio system deemed obsolete by the county. The marshal’s office intends on purchasing a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe and new equipment, such as lights and a radio, within the approved amount.