As we welcome in the New Year, let’s look for great optimism in our country and the world. There is so much more that unites us than separates us, and the same is true for our communities. The recent groundbreaking at the airport for the new terminal and runway demonstrates progress that benefits our region.
We always appreciate citizens’ input. In fact, it is necessary for any elected official to receive input from our citizens if we want to be successful at what we are elected to do. As I wrap up my last year as the mayor in Chino Valley, I want my constituents to know that, even if we did not always agree, I have always respected and appreciated your point of view and your input. As a council, we receive input from so many of our citizens, and these guide our discussions and decisions when we talk about the town’s direction.
We will be embarking on a council retreat in February, giving council members an opportunity to discuss primarily two items: water and roads. These topics, as well as some other capital projects and economic development initiatives, constitute the bulk of what creates our strategic direction. Formalizing these items will be important; distractions with upcoming elections both locally and nationally could make leadership lose direction or be tempted to react instead of plan.
With the road maintenance property tax failing last year, we are struggling with ideas on how to take care of our roads with the limited funding we receive through the Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF), which is primarily the sales tax on gasoline. Because of the state’s other priorities, legislators have been able to sweep some or most of these funds through the years, creating a shortfall that is becoming sorely noticeable to the motoring public. I believe this is obvious locally but also elsewhere.
Although we will continue to look for ways to fund road maintenance, I consider this a state problem and not one we can solve without some help. At our retreat, we will revisit our budget and funding sources, and will try to squeeze whatever money we can to put toward our roads. In my effort to manage expectations, however, our citizens need to understand that although we may come up with some funding for the short term, the amount we need for maintenance of our 153+ miles of roads requires a permanent solution.
Our discussion on water at the retreat will focus mainly on our commercial corridor on Highway 89, and to begin identifying where the best use of our limited resources should go. The most responsible expansion of our infrastructure needs to be where the return appears to be the greatest. With the expansion of water and sewer costing about $1 million per mile, it is critical we study and understand where the growth will occur and where the best return on our investment will be.
These discussions will help us to formulate our strategic direction for the next several years, coupled with items already on our never-ending list. So, send us an email, give us a call, provide your input – we are happy to hear what you think and incorporate ideas that might prove helpful. My push has been moving the town forward responsibly and focusing on economic development to create jobs and a more sustainable Chino Valley economy. We’ve got some good housing projects in the hopper and a few commercial projects that we’re excited to see hit the finish line.
Next month, I will discuss some of the economic development items we’ve been working on and how they will help Chino Valley into the future. QCBN
By Darryl Croft
Darryl Croft is the mayor of Chino Valley.