By Rose Sperry, Verde Village
(August 2, 2016)
Diane Joens’ campaign slogan for District 3 County Supervisor, “We make the good life better”, is disingenuous. It bears the question, for whom? Cottonwood’s per capita income is $19,581 (Census v. 2015) and the city’s poverty rate is 24.1% (Census). Check out the city bosses’ six figure personnel costs; maybe she made a better life for them but what about those who pay their salaries? Numbers don’t lie. Under Mayor Joens, the City has become a CASH COW for city officials, because Mayor Joens and the city council members approves each every paycheck and pay raise in the City.
For example, Cottonwood City Attorney Steve Horton’s $245,000 a year personnel costs are 1,225% morer than the city’s average per capita income of $19,581, and the City Manager Doug Bartosh’s personnel costs are 845% more than the city’s average per capita income.
I’ve been involved in politics for quite some time and always amazed that the longer I am involved, the more I recognize the large numbers of uniformed voters going to the polls without investigating or vetting the candidates they vote for. More often than not, they vote for the likeability of the candidate, rather than the candidates’ qualifications, track record, and what they can bring or have brought to the community.
Even more troublesome to me in the 2016 District 3 County Supervisor’s election, Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens is one of those persons that is very likeable. She appears to give out awards by the hundreds and strokes voters’ egos so that many of her fans are willing to sell their vote for one day of glory, never considering the rest of the electorate. That is is what I call ‘ego stroking’.
Joens’ record speak for itself. She is leaving city in dire straits with dangerously high debt , low liquidity and low reserve levels, and socioeconomic factors that deteriorated under her leadership since 2003 – poverty rates, per capita income, slow economic growth, and rapidly rising personnel costs and unfunded pension liabilities.
Joens also supported every city subsidized, money-losing event including Thunder Rally for the past 10 years, regularly attends many personal functions including weddings and funerals, and belongs to every group you can think of. Mainly because of all this, she has become an idol to many no matter how badly she fleeces city taxpayers to pay for those endeavors. Since 2004, City residents’ water rates soared 376% and nonresident water rates increased 400% under her tenure.
I venture to say one of two things: either people are blinded by adoration of her, or they really don’t want to know the truth, because knowing the facts might destroy the illusion and lead to the conclusion that she clearly does not have the qualifications to be county supervisor and is leaving the city and her constituents in fiscal stress. I believe Joens’ tenure as Cottonwood City Council woman from 2003-2007 and Mayor of Cottonwood from 2007 to 2016 has left the city on the brink of bankruptcy. Check out the city’s financials for yourself at and perhaps then, you’ll understand why she must not be given a larger territory to destroy no matter how nice a person she is.
One grievance that Republicans should never forget is, as a Republican and a member of the Mingus Mountain Republican Club, on May 21, 2014 Joens signed a petition for a previous Democrat, then Republican, and later Independent — Tom O’Halloran — to be on the ballot against the incumbent Republican candidate, Senator Chester Crandall, although she knew the bylaws of the MMRC forbade supporting non-Republican candidates.
Integrity? Accountability? You decide. And while you’re at it remember, NEVER fall in love with your candidates.
I’ll be voting for Randy Garrison. He has been very honest and forthright discussing Cottonwood’s dire financial situation with the public. Diane Joens continues to mislead the public.
Re: Letter to The Editor: Cottonwood Mayor Joens’ Cash Cows
The most important COMPARISON is the personnel costs per capita. How much is coming out of the taxpayers’ WALLETS (PER PERSON) to pay for city employees????
Although Prescott Valley is about 357% bigger than Cottonwood, they have nearly the SAME PERSONNEL COSTS!!!
But Cottonwood’s per capita personnel costs for FY 2017 is a WHOPPING $1,607.72 and Prescott Valley’s per capita personnel costs are only $456.45!!!
Check it out:
COTTONWOOD PERSONNEL COSTS PER CAPITA FY 2017: $1,607.72* (Avg per capita income is $19,581; 24% poverty rate; [Census v 2015])
*FY 2017 PERSONNEL (STAFF) COSTS: $19,000,000
EST. POPULATION (Census v 2015): 11,818
PRESCOTT VALLEY PERSONNEL COSTS PER CAPITA: $456.45 (Avg median household income is $42,973)
**FY 2017 PERSONNEL (STAFF) COSTS: $19,260,767
EST. POPULATION (Census v 2015): 42,973
Holly and Sherry really have their ducks in a row!
The Aug. 3rd Cottonwood Journal Extra carried an advertisement for Diane Joens which seems to imply that as Yavapai County Supervisor she can improve roads, transit, the overcrowded jail system and get more classes in the Verde Valley Yavapai College.
I’ve attended meeting of the Cottonwood City Counsel and heard our Sheriff Mascher explain the jail system and need for expansion that the voters denied. The economy can not sustain expansion without a tax increase. Mayor Joens was there too. Has she forgotten that? The same goes for our infrastructure of roads which for some like Hwy. 89A going to Sedona is a state road. I’m not sure how much money would be used by the county to improve the state highway. I also know all country supervisors vote on how to spend available funds- there is one source they all draw from. One supervisor can not simply use funds for whatever project they wish.
As for protecting our rivers you might recall how the new sewage system approved by the city for which the council used water development funds of $518,000 for an injection well plan had failed costing more again for another plan by a different source so that the park will not be flooded by the effluent water. That cost on top of the added solar panels insisted upon by Joens added a tremendous cost to this two building structure that sits on the bank of Verde River. This was not wise financial or any other type of planning.
For me personally I have been offended by the exorbitant increase of water cost in the Verde Villages and the additional 1% we pay for the recreational center which is free for all city employees to use yet cost the residents of Verde Villages more than citizens of Cottonwood for membership.
All this and more has been under the watchful eye of Mayor Diane Joens who now asks you, the voters to trust her with the financial well being of your District 3 as the Yavapai County Supervisor. As for me I will be voting for Randy Garrison.
Comparing a city’s personnel costs to a resident’s average income is like comparing an entire basket of apples to a single orange.
Diane Joens does not run the City of Cottonwood. She is the mayor, which means she presides over city council meetings, deciding who will speak next and when the vote is to be called. She is one of seven (minus a current vacancy) who by majority vote direct the City Manager–the person who actually runs the city.
Your misrepresentation of the form of government Cottonwood has can only mean you have misdirected your anger and frustration. Nothing you said can be traced to one person and one person only.
You give Joens too much credit. The only thing she does entirely by herself is create an enormous amount of goodwill for the City and the causes with which she is affiliated.
You said: “The only thing she does entirely by herself is create an enormous amount of goodwill for the City and the causes with which she is affiliated.” That is a FLAT OUT LIE! Apparently you failed to do your homework. Like Bell, California, the City of Cottonwood’s grandiose six figure salaries for a city of less than 12,000 population, with an avg. per capita income of $19,581, are shocking and outrageous, and they constitute a breach of public faith.
Cottonwood is a general law city; the mayor is the equivalent of a corporation’s CEO-President; and the city council are the equivalent of board members. Every city employee city answers to THEM. PERIOD. The Municipal Code is a compilation of the general ordinances (“laws”) of the city which is available online: https://www.municode.com/library/az/cottonwood/codes/code_of_ordinances
Most of the city bosses listed on the personnel costs in the letter listed above are contract employees — including Steve Horton who has a 5-year contract and Doug Bartosh and Marianne Jimenez and Douglas LaSota have contracts — whose compensation and merit increases were approved in executive session with only the mayor, city council members, city manager and city attorney present.
Joens lavishes the city attorney and city manager whatever they ask for without question — whatever she feels like giving them — including no cap on termination pay in the city attorney’s contract — because there is no legislative limit (cap) in the state of Arizona! For FY 2017, Joens and council approved another 1.7% increase to increase the highest range of pay a Cottonwood employee can take home.
BOTTOMLINE: Diane Joens and her crony city council approved 100% of the six figure contract salaries and benefits which dwarf the salaries and benefit packages for comparable, same size Arizona cities’ public job holders.
EXAMPLE: 8/10/2013 3:03:00 PM
Cottonwood city manager’s salary gets boost
Verde News, Jon Hutchinson
COTTONWOOD — City Manager Doug Bartosh was hailed as the city’s leader during the Cottonwood Council meeting Tuesday and awarded a 6-percent merit salary increase.
Mayor Diane Joens read a lengthy “laundry-list” of city accomplishments in recent years under the Bartosh administration. “He has done a good job of accomplishing and holds up his end of it.”
The mayor said, “His response time is amazing. You ask for something in the morning and he is already working on it by afternoon.” Last year, the city awarded its clerk and attorney merit increases.
All of the personnel costs are listed annually in the city’s fiscal budgets online at: cottonwoodaz.gov, finance.
I attended the Mayor’s Coffee Talk on August 12th at the Cottonwood Recreation Center, and was perplexed by the City Finance Director’s lack of transparency when telling us what the personnel costs are in FY 2017 for Steve Horton, Cottonwood City Attorney, and for Doug Bartosh, City Manager. The biggest costs to a city are its personnel costs; in particular, police and safety. In FY 2017, the City of Cottonwood has budgeted nearly $19,000,000 for total personnel costs ($13,682,395 for general government employees) which includes salaries, benefits, retirement, payroll taxes, allowances and all labor costs to the city — which added together, REPRESENT MORE DOLLARS than salaries alone.
All employees and managers’ compensation, including benefits and allowances, must be approved by Mayor Diane Joens and her Council Members. Cottonwood is a financially distressed city, with high unfunded pension liabilities, high structural debt, economic stagnation, poor liquidity, drained General Fund reserves and low cash balances.
Distressed municipalities are left with fewer funds available to pay down debts and non-traditional debt, such as underfunded pension and health care benefits. Finally, maintenance and development capital investments are likely to be skipped, driving the municipality into a worse physical condition.
FY 2008 Personnel Costs: $7,787,905
FY 2009 Personnel Costs: $8,079,965
FY 2010 Personnel Costs: $9,371,790
FY 2011 Personnel Costs: $9,853,925
FY 2012 Personnel Costs:$10,459,640
FY 2013 Personnel Costs: $10,891,465
(Across the board salary increases)
FY 2014 Personnel Costs: 15,559,665 – 139 Full Time Employees
FY 2015 Personnel Costs: $16,274,075
FY 2016 Personnel Costs: $17,662,330
FY 2017 Personnel Costs: $18,541,110 – 206 Full Time Employees
268% INCREASE IN PERSONNEL COSTS FROM 2006 – 2016