By Naomi Hatch
The Snowflake Town Council met in a work session Jan. 13 to review the town’s 2013 accomplishments.
After reviewing the town finances, Town Manager Paul Watson reported that local sales tax collections for the first six months of this fiscal year are in line with the budget, but slightly below the previous year’s collections for the same time period, noting they are staying on budget, “because we budgeted conservatively last year.”
“State shared revenues are also in line with our budget and slightly above last year’s collections, so we are basically flat for this year,” he said, noting that Pro Build is closing.
“Overall, the state is starting to see a turnaround,” said Watson. “On a local level we’ve not turned that corner yet.” He advised the council that they are working on a lot of things, but are not there yet.
Watson said that accomplishments in 2013 regarding economic development included assisting in the continuation of the Apache Railway, including serving on the board, assisting with federal and state funding, and working with businesses to bring additional revenues to the operations; working closely with the Real AZ Development Council to bring an executive director in to help with recruitment of new industry into the region; continual communication with existing industries such as NatureSweet, Novo Power, and Aztec Land & Cattle to make sure the town assists them in maintaining or expanding their operations in the future; communicating with and assisting new industries such as Project 78, 4 FRI and Good Earth Power in trying to locate in the area; working with the Snowflake-Taylor Tourism Committee to develop programs and projects to enhance tourism in the area; working with the White Mountain Partnership to promote Snowflake and the White Mountain region for tourism with fam trips for travel writers, magazine and newspaper ads and articles, and websites; and working with the Snowflake Economic Development Committee.
Watson promoted community relations by working with the Silver Creek Senior Center, the Snowflake-Taylor Chamber of Commerce, the Snowflake Heritage Foundation and the Pioneer Days Committee, and working to re-establish the Community Values Committee.
As town manager he developed “Raise a Barn” activities to build teamwork and assist departments with projects without incurring additional costs; assisted with the fire committee in reviewing options and recommendations for the fire department; worked with the Police Administration Committee to refine bylaws; and worked with the Regional Dispatch Committee to establish a regional dispatch center for the area to improve public safety services to citizens.
The Planning and Zoning Department issued one building permit for a new single family residence and one permit to convert a shop into a residential structure, which added two new homes in Snowflake in December, for a total of eight single family residence permits in 2013, an 800 percent increase over the last two years. Sixty-five permits of various types were issued during 2013. Snowflake has 14 outstanding permits yet to be completed.
The Recreation and Parks Department drew 83 softball teams that played approximately 500 games; 68 basketball teams that played 309 games and involved 347 city league youth participants; 27 volleyball teams that played 155 games; and 40 youth soccer teams that played 165 games with 501 participants. The department offered ongoing programs in mixed martial arts, weight training/sports fitness, and girls youth volleyball. There were 71 participants in the Taylor Celebration Run and 214 participants in the Pioneer Day Run. Camps for youth in football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, weight/sport fitness and golf drew 20 to 30 participants each.
The swimming pool served approximately 150 swimmers per day, 661 participants in the two-week swimming lesson sessions, 12 to 20 lap swimmers each evening, 40 to 50 participants in swim teams and a swim meet. There were approximately 45 pool parties scheduled during the year.
The Snowflake Cemetery averages 30 burials per year, and this year improvements were made to include a new south end fence and some rip rapping in that area, as well as a new roof on the shed.
With the help of All Custom Exteriors, a new metal roof was put on the Snowflake Little League Building, and city workers maintained the parks, ball fields, grounds, rights-of-way, trees and the planting of trees during the Arbor Day Celebration.
The Public Works/Engineering Department for streets maintained with Highway User Revenue Funds presented the Second Knolls PARA Transportation Study to the town council for adoption.
The town clerk implemented state record retention schedules that identified historic records; ensured compliance with the open meeting law by council and staff; ensured compliance with the Family Medical Leave Act; reviewed the personnel manual; and now has all employees on direct deposit.
Librarian Cathie McDowell has been working on Community Development Block Grant requirements and began the bid process in June for CDBG grants for the Academy Building renovation, which will become the library. Bids opened in July were too high for the available funding so District III Navajo County Supervisor Sylvia Allen coordinated with County Manager Jimmy Jayne to use the county’s public works staff to build the ramp and exterior stairs for material costs, and the county contributed $24,000 toward the fire sprinklers.
The summer reading program kicked off with a huge multi-activity event, and for two months hosted performers and events for various ages that included video gaming, movies, crafts and story times.
There are 546 new cardholders at the library with 73,133 circulations and 77 programs.
“These are ambitious goals, but we have a great community who value their public library,” said McDowell in her memo to the council. “…(T)he library is busier than ever and not just with people seeking to use our computers. Our libraries are checking out more books and movies, seeing greater attendance at programs and assisting people with their job searches, resume writing and career development.”
The golf course hosted 13 tournaments, including 11 benefit tourneys, as well as the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Pioneer Day Car Show, Pioneer Day Craft Fair, Thanksgiving Day 5K Run, and the Snowflake High School golf team practices and four matches.
During the town Barn Raising they were able to get the crossing around the course marked. The Men’s Club purchased and donated new flagpoles and cups for all 27 holes. They switched the reservation and point of sale software to web-based software, and had 42 junior participants in the summer program.
Council members discussed staff goals for 2014 and were encouraged to comment on goals they themselves have for this year.
“I think it’s good to sit and talk about it (accomplishments and goals), getting some ideas and thoughts,” said Vice Mayor Jason Whiting. “Clear and concise goals create vision, to have vision (you) can have clear and concise action and accomplish those things.” He suggested a retreat be held that includes department heads.
“I think we need a retreat,” Watson agreed. “Most department heads have a pretty good idea of areas that they want to accomplish. I think you’ll hear what they feel the need to do is, but we can’t because of funding.
“On the flip side, what I would appreciate is each member of the town council giving two to three top priorities of what’s the most important thing for them this coming year,” said Watson, who will put this information together for a one-day retreat.
“There’s a lot that can be improved, but with the current managers (Watson and Taylor Town Manager Gus Lundberg), there’s a real desire to do that,” said Watson.
By Naomi Hatch