Aug 022013

By Nick Worth
After holding a public hearing on the primary property tax rate Tuesday evening at which no citizens were in attendance, members of the Holbrook City Council heard there would be no increase in the tax for the coming year.
“We plan on approving a primary property tax rate of 27.89 cents per $100 of assessed value,” Finance Director Randy Sullivan told the council. “Our total income from property taxes will be $52,238 for next year.
“That’s the same as the last three years,” Sullivan said. “There’s no increase.”
Mayor Jeff Hill pointed out the city has only a primary property tax. “There is no secondary tax,” he said.
Moving on to the adoption of the city budget for 2013-14, Vice Mayor Charles Haussman asked why the sanitation department showed a loss of $70,425 in the final budget figures.
“Why is it showing a loss when we have it contracted out?” Haussman asked, referring to the city’s contract for trash collection with Larson Waste.
“We haven’t realized any of those savings yet,” Sullivan replied. He said in the 2013-14 budget, the water and wastewater departments are subsidizing the sanitation department in order to zero out the budget.
“Sanitation has historically carried the others,” said City Manager Ray Alley. He then explained that the city sanitation department is still running the transfer site and a roll-off bin truck that services several roll-off bins three times per week.
Alley also told the council two sanitation department workers are pulled off for other projects such as road work, but still have their salaries coming out of the sanitation budget.
“Until we can move them 100 percent out, their salaries still come out of the sanitation budget,” Alley said.
Haussman then asked for clarification of the totals in the Highway Users Revenue Fund (HURF) budget.
“Is money being transferred into HURF?” Haussman asked.
Sullivan said HURF is going to provide $572,259 during the next budget year.
“We’re moving $383,178 from the general fund into HURF to keep the roads going,” Sullivan said.
Alley noted that HURF dollars have dwindled over the past several years.
“In 1980 we got $735,000 from HURF,” Alley said. “We’re going to stay within this budget.”
Haussman then said he had one more comment before voting on the motion to adopt the budget.
“I want to see the rationale for city employees getting raises,” Haussman said. He said some employees who have only been with the city for a few years received higher raises than some who had been serving the city for many more years.
Alley said the raises were tied into several different factors, including training courses.
“That would be a good idea for a work session,” Alley told the council. “I’ll be glad to explain it all to you.”
It was decided to put the matter on the agenda for a future council meeting.
The $9.1 million budget was then adopted by the council in a unanimous vote.
In other action July 30, the council:
* Approved a resolution accepting a Federal Aviation Administration grant to carry out electrical work at the Holbrook Municipal Airport.
Alley told council members the grant was for work they had awarded a contract for in their previous meeting. The total grant came to $136,590, with matching funds of $6,700 each from the city and the Arizona Department of Transportation.
* Approved claims payments.