Mar 252011

By Linda Kor —

Holbrook Finance Director Randy Sullivan received approval Tuesday evening to award a contract to Burden Electric in order to implement some energy efficiency retrofits made possible by grant funds. The city was awarded a $69,403 energy efficiency community block grant in March of last year through the Department of Commerce that will fund the changes with no match by the city.

He advised the city council that the city only received one bid, but the company had submitted a rebate request to Arizona Public Service and the response from APS was not received until after the bid deadline.

“We will redo the lighting in most of the city buildings at a cost of $25,076.71, plus we’ll receive an $8,000 rebate,” explained Sullivan, adding that while the total grant funds of $69,403 must be used toward improving energy efficiency in city structures, the rebate can be used toward other projects, such as improvements to city amenities.

When asked by Councilman Richard Peterson what other projects the city had in mind for the remaining $44,000, Sullivan stated that the funds would likely be used toward higher efficiency pumps at the water department and the treatment plant, resulting in long term savings on energy costs.

The council also approved an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the State of Arizona for a Safe Routes to School Grant. Application for the grant was made in 2008 and resulted in an award of $248,531 that requires no matching funds.

The funds will be used to create handicap access to the sidewalks around the schools and to add 15 solar powered speed signs.

According to City Manager Ray Alley, the project is still two years down the road and the solar lighting is still tentative until the project is completely reviewed, but the agreement is part of the process necessary to obtain the funds.

It was also noted that the original grant amount was $266,119, but $17,588 will go to the Arizona Department of Transportation for administering it.

Two items on the agenda were tabled. One was a request to amend the fees at the Holbrook Fitness Center to allow Holbrook High School students to attend the center for free of charge during spring and summer breaks from school.

Alley explained that since the city is no longer able to fund certain summer recreation such as youth athletic programs and the school’s weight room, then the students should be allowed to use the gym free of cost.

While the council agreed with the idea, a concern brought up by Vice Mayor Matt Searles was that the gym was already very busy in the evenings with adults who just got off work and that having the youth in at those hours may deter them from using the gym.

It was agreed that the times should be specifically noted as certain daytime hours for the free use. Alley stated he would readdress the idea and return it to council at the next meeting.

The other item tabled was a request to enter into an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the City of Phoenix for municipal tax hearings should anyone contest a sales tax audit they received from the city.

“No one has come forward to contest an audit yet, but we need this agreement in place in the event that they do,” explained Alley.

There are only two hearing officers in the state and both work for the City of Phoenix, which is why the contract would be with that city.

Peterson expressed concern regarding the fee of $150 per hour plus related expenses and a hourly work order rate to the City of Phoenix $62 for their services, wondering if this included travel and if the hearings, if they should be needed, could take place in Phoenix rather than here to avoid added expenses. He also wanted to know who should be responsible for the fees, the city or the petitioner.

The council agreed to table the request until more information could be provided regarding the costs.

The council also agreed to hold its first budget session meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12.

Jme Baloo, who works with the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce, addressed the council regarding the upcoming Old West Days event. She explained that this year’s event, scheduled July 8 and 9, will have a great deal more to offer those attending. To start off the event, a VIP dinner will be held at the Heward House Hangar on July 7. This dinner will feature renowned Arizona historian Marshall Trimble as a special guest, who will also perform during the weekend.

A new event planned for the annual event is the Whiskey Ranch Pro Barbecue Series barbecue competition. “This is nothing like the chili cook-offs that we’ve had in the past. This is really big for us. We will have between 30 and 40 pro barbecue teams competing during this event,” explained Baloo.

In addition, there will be a Route 66 Gearheads car show, a quilt show, the Bucket of Blood Re-enactors will perform and a half-marathon will be added to the Bucket of Blood races.

In other action March 22, the council:

* Approved the final canvass of the primary election results. Jeff Hill was re-elected as mayor, and the three council seat vacancies will be filled by Bobby Tyler, and incumbents Charles Haussman and Phil Cobb.

* Approved the designation of Sullivan as the city’s chief fiscal officer.

* Approved an application for a special event license for a fundraiser to be held at the Elks Lodge on April 17.

* Approved the purchase of UV lamps for the painted Mesa Wastewater Treatment Plant in the amount of $15,983.94 from D.C. Frost.