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home : latest news : local February 6, 2016

11/6/2013 9:41:00 AM
Prescott Valley Council retreats to write budget
Trib file graphic
Trib file graphic

Ken Hedler
Special to the Tribune

Four months into the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Town Council and management staff has begun work on preparing the budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2014.

Council members and staff kicked off plans for the 2014-15 fiscal year this past Friday with a four-hour retreat in the Crystal Room of the Prescott Valley Library. The atmosphere was casual, with only Mayor Harvey Skoog and three male managers wearing ties: Interim Police Chief James Edelstein, Community Development Director Richard Parker and Town Attorney Ivan Legler.

The session started with a half-hour presentation from Management Services Director Bill Kauppi discussing projections for 2013-14 and the four following fiscal years. The council adopted a $62.4 million budget for 2013-14.

Kauppi submitted a five-page overview to the council and staff that projects 3 percent increases in sales tax collections and employee salaries for a five-year period that started with the current fiscal year.

Town Manager Larry Tarkowski asked the council for goals for management staff for the next fiscal year.

Council members made suggestions that included bringing the municipal staff back to adequate levels and supporting a future multigenerational community center.

"We need to address the staffing issues of all aspects," Vice Mayor Lora Lee Nye said after the retreat. "We need to bring the departments up to the levels that more efficiently meet their needs. We are exhausting our staff."

Prescott Valley has 191 employees, Human Resources Director Karen Smith after the session.

Smith said the annual turnover rate for town employees is currently 12.1 percent but is as high as 20 to 40 percent in some departments.

Tarkowski imposed a hiring freeze in October 2007 for positions connected to the General Fund because state officials anticipated revenues would drop. He has said the town had 242 employees at the time the freeze went into effect.

With revenues improving, town management relaxed the freeze two years ago.

The improving outlook also might have inspired the council members to seek other needs.

Nye called for a community center that would meet recreation and socializing to serve all age groups.

Councilman Marty Grossman suggested using schools after hours for that purpose. He recalled using school libraries and gyms when he was growing up in New York City.

Tarkowski said the town had the Civic Center, which opened in 1999, built with the intent of using it as a community building.

Tarkowski said the council prioritized job creation during the retreat a year ago.

Councilman Rick Anderson expressed a need to replace aging police vehicles and snowplows.

He said he has attended meetings of the newly formed Greater Prescott Area Economic Partnership, which is promoting the council's previous goal of creating jobs.

"It is a great cooperative effort," Anderson said.

Council members then made suggestions for department heads, starting with Library Director Stuart Mattson.

Responding to a suggestion from Anderson, he said staff has considered opening the library on Mondays. Doing so would require additional staff. The library is closed Sundays and Mondays.

Opening the library on Mondays would make it possible for children to do their homework on computers, Councilwoman Mary Mallory said.

Some adults go online at the library computers to look for jobs, Mattson said.

Members of the public will get a chance to weigh in on their needs from the town government during an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in the library, 7401 E. Civic Circle. Department heads will be present.

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