By An Arizona Conflicts of Interest Citizens’ Association Board
(January 13, 2018)
Government watchdogs are warning the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors that an event chaired by Supervisor Randy Garrison in Verde Village could breach Yavapai County ethics rules designed to keep government honest and impartial.
Political activities of Yavapai County board of Supervisor Randy Garrison may cross the line by promoting the City of Cottonwood for personal gain
All public service is vested with the public’s trust, and all County and City employees owe their first duty of loyalty to the public whom they serve. It is of utmost importance, therefore, that County employees do not to permit their personal interests and affiliations to influence the manner in which they discharge their official duties to all of their constituents equally.
Since personal interests and politics have a certain level of influence over the manner in which the public is governed, the political activities of public officials are monitored under government public officials’ conflicts of interest laws which were enacted in most states with an attempt to ensure that County and City employees maintain impartiality when dispensing services to their constituents. This is why a public official should not use his or her Government position or official title or authority associated with his or her public office in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that the County or the County Supervisor sanctions, approves or endorses the political activities of another individual, organization or government subdivision, or to influence actions that benefit private interests.
This is why it is critical to the integrity of civil service that the operation of the Yavapai County government remain wholly separate from conflicts of interest, and other government subdivision’s politics, and refrain from favoring one city or town over other cities and towns in their districts.
Some critics say Randy Garrison, Yavapai County Supervisor in District 3 governing Clarkdale, Verde Village, Bridgeport, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, Verde Santa Fe, Jerome and Perkinsville, is using his official title and influence in engaging in political activities that directly and indirectly benefit a different government subdivision, the City of Cottonwood.
Since his election, Supervisor Garrison’s official, personal and political activities have been benefiting the City of Cottonwood, where the County Supervisor resides, owns multiple businesses and retains a close relationship with Cottonwood Mayor, Tim Elinski.
According to a January 10th Cottonwood Journal AZ news article titled, ”Verde Village Discusses Annexation”, Supervisor Randy Garrison will chair a forum with Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski, and Cottonwood Deputy City Manager and Finance Director, Rudy Rodriguez, to discuss the benefits of the City of Cottonwood annexing Verde Village directly, using his official title and influence to advance the private interests of the City of Cottonwood and advance the city’s potential for private gain.
By using his official authority or influence for the purpose of affecting the result of a future election, the public official is giving the appearance of governmental sanction. with the intent that the his opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion or other action in his official capacity will thereby influence the citizens of the Verde Village to benefit the city of Cottonwood.
Is Garrison violating the use of his public office for private gain by using his official authority to influence actions that benefit the City of Cottonwood and his friend, the Mayor of Cottonwood? You be the judge. Whenever the performance of a public official affects a private interest, it gives rise to an appearance of the public official using his authority, official title, or public office for private gain or to give preferential treatment.
Three Verde Village annexation attempts by Cottonwood already failed, because a majority of Verde Village citizens is clear in three elections that the city of Cottonwood has nothing they want to be part of. Residents of Verde Village, Verde Santa Fe and Bridgeport have started discussions regarding incorporation to create a barrier and ward off any future Cottonwood annexation attempts.
No, not easy to annex the VVPOA – the property has to be sold and monies distributed among the 4,000 home owners per the corporation papers. That could take quite a long time. As for any benefit to residents – there is none. Verde Villages are on cesspool and it would take years to run sewage lines if it were possible and the cost astronomical. Homeowners would pay to hook up and run to the street and city would pay cost of running the rest of the pipes plus tearing up the streets to put it in!! Plus Unit 1 is at such a low elevation it would need a pumping station to get it up to Hwy. 260 elevation – the same is true for the housing area along the river. Oh and according to the city the water lines still need to be replaced due to age – more expense for the city and I’m sure they’ll want to increase the water rates Again!!
Perhaps the city is thinking about property taxes and the increase from 4,000 homes – well the citizens have to vote on that – I don’t see them approving it.
The city has got themselves in a jam due to incompetence and greed. Maybe they could cut the exorbitant retirement packages or sell the new sewage plant that is not being used – great conference areas. I don’t know what Garrison is thinking unless he feels by promoting Cottonwood where he lives and has businesses he could one day run for Mayor? There seems to be little rhyme or reason for what they do in the city of Cottonwood. It’s like the roll of the dice and the odds do not favor anyone.
Supervisor, Randy Garrison and Mayor Tim Elinsky have not solicited the Verde Village Property Owners Association in any manner concerning annexation. The Association has received numerous questions regarding this issue and since we believe voters and residents make wiser decisions when they are well informed, we chose to invite Supervisor Randy Garrison and Mayor Tim Elinsky for a “question and answer” forum, only. Please join us on February 8, at 5:00 p.m., at our clubhouse located at 4855 E. Broken Saddle Dr., Cottonwood. If you have any questions regarding this forum, we can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 928-646-6505.
Verde Village News
Yesterday at 12:45am ·
MY TURN: AT THE TIPPING POINT
For more than a decade, elected city leaders implemented unsound fiscal policies resulting in millions of dollars in unfunded pensions, a high debt–to-income ratio, phenomenal personnel and pension growth, hyper investment in seven city services, four annexations and six private water company purchases to create an AntiTrust Tap Water Monopoly, the biggest municipal water grab in Arizona history. Cottonwood pushed out six private water companies mostly outside city boundaries to become the baron of drinking water in Central Arizona’s Verde Valley with impunity.
Cottonwood officials set out to become a metropolis that could compete with cities the size of Phoenix, by building a $40 million Recreation Center (incl. principal and interest debt), its own police and fire departments, a regional safety communications center, a library, city water and wastewater utilities, an airport, and now under construction – an estimated $15 to $17 million vanity mega-project (including a pipeline to Verde Valley Fairgrounds injection well) — the failed Riverfront satellite wastewater treatment plant on the banks of the Verde River. To build the metropolis the City profited off the poor by using their credit, so today, residents and city water utility customers are left to pay a multi-million-dollar tab for 30 years.
Years of expanding government services, lack of fiscal restraint and mismanagement, and incompetence by its hyper-progressive City Council have taken its toll. Former Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens and Vice Mayor/Councilor Karen Pfeifer and City Manager, Doug Bartosh, controlled the political reins for too many years, and Incompetent and complacent council members still continue to deny and ignore the city’s fiscal threats — including the rising unfunded pension debt liabilities and obscene, $20M a year in personnel costs.
The big gorilla that looms over Cottonwood is its $24.3 million unfunded pension liability in FY 2017 which grew $1.9 million over the previous year. City finance director, Rudy Rodriguez, has failed to tell citizens the truth as to how bad the city’s pension crisis really is. Add that to the City’s millions in long-term (in 2016 the city of Cottonwood was ranked 4th-highest in per capita debt among 91 Arizona cities according to the Arizona Treasurers Office, Bonded Indebtedness Report).
But no one wants to talk about it at City Hall so they can get re-elected. Cottonwood failed to set aside payments for its retiree benefit obligations and by FY 2017, it was in arrears by $24.3 million (FY 2018 Cottonwood Budget) in unfunded pension liabilities. If city officials do not make hard choices soon, they could face a financial collapse. Most cities assume the average pensioner is going to only live to be about 70 years and that their pension fund will return an interest rate of at least 7.4 percent a year, which that isn’t even remotely true. It’s like the city is making the minimum payment on a $25 million credit card debt but has no idea how the debt will ever get paid off or how long it will take.
The tumult of the City’s finances began with former mayor Diane Joens’ administration one year after the public elected her in 2003. It started at the top when citizens elected a Mayor who has little to no management experience, no financial experience, no business experience, no technical experience, and no formal academic credentials. A candidate such as a salon owner, housewife, farmer or administrative assistant is not qualified to run a city and neither was Joens.
What Mayor Joens and her Vice Mayor, Karen Pfeifer, lacked as City leaders, they seemed to more than make it up as figureheads. Joens took bows and credit for a number of developments, including Old Town businesses’ rebound and the boondoggle Riverfront Wastewater Plant, which is a total disaster. But that has been Cottonwood’s outside face for more than a decade. Inside, fiscal pandemonium is evident.
The city’s deeply-entrenched financial problems started with the condemnation of three private water companies in October 2004, and the subsequent purchase of three additional private water companies, and snowballed because of a Growth Ponzi Scheme to build a metropolis using taxpayers’ credit without a single election.
Recent history in Cottonwood should be a wake-up call for local, state, and federal governments as well. Reckless spending and wasting valuable resources will eventually lead to disaster. Cottonwood is certainly begging, even if they do not know it, for an adult to step forward and tell it “NO” for a change. It has never been more important to elect new city council members to right the ship.
Publisher and Editor
Verde Village News
Sure would be interesting to find out who all inquired about annexation to warrant a meeting of all these people since no one in the VVPOA ever seemed very interested in it – just feared it.
Message to Cottonwood from a 15-year Verde Village resident: Keep yer hands out of Verde Village and our wallets. You stole our water company illegally by condemnation. Took away our water company that served us for 30 years and our rate regulation, then raised rates more than 500%. Now you steal from extra charges on our water bills. Three failed annexations means NO, we want nothing to do with you. Enough is enough. This is to the stupid people who just moved to Verde Village and are stirring up crap. Get a life. John