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Cave Creek Town Council adopts proposed budget expenditures


Tara Alatorre

CAVE CREEK – The Cave Creek Town Council adopted the 2017 proposed budget expenditures and limitation amount of almost $16.5 million dollars at a July 18 meeting, while also addressing growing pains by establishing an open space advisory committee, and discussing the town’s allocation of its water supply with future development and drought looming on the horizon.

The town council unanimously passed the expenditure limitation amount of $16,479,878 for the budget through June 30, 2017, and adopted the estimated town costs for the fiscal year, which is a decrease of about $1.1 million from the 2016 budget. With projected gains in revenue from taxes supported by evidence of economic and real estate recovery in Arizona, the 2017 budget emphasizes the funding of road maintenance, construction, maintaining water and waste water systems, economic development, and improvements to the town hall, rodeo grounds, and parks.

“It’s a tight budget, it’s an appropriate budget,” said Councilman Thomas McGuire at the meeting last week.

The town council’s ongoing sentiments towards preserving open space while fostering healthy economic growth was echoed during the July 18 meeting, with approximately $430,000 going towards open space conservation and acquisitions in the 2017 budget, and the unanimous approval of establishing an open space committee.

“It would be nice to have support for the council,” said the Town Manager, Peter Jankowski, regarding the committee’s role in helping with the town’s open space initiative. “I wanted the town council to be able to shape it and move it, they will still work as a committee, but it is more flexible and will reflect the council’s desires more easily.”

The committee will have seven citizens appointed by the town council, who will serve without compensation for a two-year term, with its mission to promote open space advocacy, support the council’s open space initiative, and further the goals for open space, according to the resolution passed.

The Open Space Committee is riding on the tailcoats of the real estate uptick seen in the Cave Creek area, which has some citizens concerned about over-development in the town. In the last few months the town manager Jankowski has seen a large increase for development requests, especially in the Desert Hills area. 

“We are going through this water crisis that everyone is so worried about we need to decide how that water [CAP] is going to be allocated,” Jankowski said after presenting the motion to schedule a special water work session this September.

With the economy bouncing back, he is seeking guidance for a more clear water policy, ensuring a sustainable water source for the town; there is already a 54-home development in Desert Hills seeking approval to build. 

“The economy has been better, people are looking at what to do with their properties out in Desert Hills; it’s been unclear from our records how CAP water is allocated between two systems and I need better guidance on that,” said Jankowski.

However, there is no official town policy on how the town’s Central Arizona Water supply is allocated between both the Cave Creek and Desert Hills water treatment plants, which makes it difficult for the town to determine how to approve development, while guaranteeing a 100-year water supply.

“We are not near our cap but if we keep continuing at this pace a lot of the water earmarked for Cave Creek will end up in Desert Hills,” he said. “Water, in my estimation, from what I hear from CAP, in the future, you know this has become a concern.”

The town council unanimously agreed to schedule a water work session in September before the general elections. The council also unanimously agreed to appoint Peter Omundson to fill the vacancy on the town’s planning and zoning commission.