By Sherry Twamley, Cottonwood Resident
(March 5, 2017)
Outraged Cottonwood Municipal Water Utility customers have created an online petition urging Arizona legislators and lawmakers to investigate the alleged City of Cottonwood’s wrongdoings in condemning three private water companies in 2004 inside and outside city limits without voter authorization, including two private water companies in Verde Santa Fe and Verde Village, millions of dollars in nonvoter authorized bonds guaranteed by water bill payers for 30 years to finance the private water company acquisitions without voter authorization, and forcing City water utility ratepayers to pay millions of dollars for all of the City’s water company purchases (six water companies) on their water bills. Cottonwood Municipal Water customers who wish to sign the petition can go to: https://www.change.org/p/sherry-twamley-cottonwood-az-water-bill-payers-outrage-demand-investigation
So glad something is being done. I signed the petition as the city of Cottonwood foisted this on us in the Verde Villages without a vote years ago. Our rates have skyrocketed and somehow we are even paying 1% to finance the recreation center in town that as outsiders we have to pay a higher rate to use! This is outrageous!
The people of Cottonwood need to come together, attend council meetings, let the council, mayor and manager know what is expected of them and that they will be held accountable for their actions, budgets and spending practices. The only “fix” the City of Cottonwood is considering is raising taxes and fees to only slowing the growth of the immense debt. They are even proposing a city property tax. How can a city of 12,000 where the average household income is about $42,000 with a 20% poverty rate and a very large fixed income retirement population afford to support this out of control city government. Don’t be silent and vote for those who will commit to making the hard and correct decisions needed to put us back on track.
During the Great Recession which officially lasted from Dec.2007 to June 2009, as the U.S. labor market lost 8.4 mil. jobs, or 6.1% of all jobs, the City of Cottonwood was on a rampage–a spending spree. They were busy spending taxpayers’ and water bill payers’ monies, including using water bill payers’ money to buy real estate properties. That’s right. From 2004 to 2010, the City of Cottonwood used millions of dollars of CIty water bill payers’ hard earned monies to buy six private water companies, and in 2009 the City’s Municipal Water Utility bill payers’ monies were used to buy the 2-acre Foxworth-Galbraith property on Main St. that today houses the City’s Planning Department, the City’s Police evidence–but only half of the property is used to house the City’s Water Utility Department!!! Outrageous! In 2009, the City of Cottonwood purchased the former Foxworth-Galbraith 2-acre property for $650,000 USING UTILITY BILL PAYERS’ MONEY – not the CITY’S MONEY, for a “public works and community services building that serves the City Planning and Police Departments (the two-acre Foxworth-Galbraith property serves two basic purposes: provide a home and storage for the Water Utility Department, The City Planning Dept. and provides storage for police evidence for the Cottonwood Police Department.)
Foxworth-Galbraithe properties were purchased with $650,000 of water utility bill payers’ money, according to City Council records. But only about 5,800 sq. ft. are devoted to the Utilities Billing and Operations because Planning Dept. and Police Dept. 10,758 sq. ft. (about 10,000 sq. ft. houses police evidence).
On July 23, 2009, the Verde News published, “Editorial: Recession in Cottonwood? You wouldn’t know it by watching the City Council…It’s as if the folks at City Hall have money to burn. The proposed City Hall budget for the coming fiscal year is $132 million, the largest in the city’s history. In addition to the outdoor pool expansion, the city is in the midst of constructing a $17 million community recreation center, which also will have its own swimming pool. Earlier this year, the city purchased the former Foxworth-Galbraith property for $600,000 [$650,000 according to City records] to serve as a public works and community services building. Also, the city plans to build a new Riverfront Park Reclamation Facility, a wastewater line along SR 260 to bolster commercial development there. The price-tag for all those projects will be more than $10 million. The city also earlier this year purchased the Spring Creek Water Co. for an estimated $825,000 and has had closed-door discussions about also buying the Quail Canyon Water Improvement District [the City purchased Quail Canyon in 2010]”, https://www.verdenews.com/news/2009/jul/23/editorial-recession-in-cottonwood-you-wouldnt-kno/ stating “the Cottonwood City Council this week approved the spending of $570,000 for the expansion and renovation of the municipal pool”.
Sadly, these are only a few examples of the incredible spending rampage by City leaders over the past 12 years. Overcharged Cottonwood water bill payers created a petition to ask state legislators and lawmakers to investigate huge spikes in water bill rates to cover undisclosed, Cottonwood bond debts, covenant and reserve fees hidden in the City’s water bills for the past 12 years. To sign the petition, go to: https://www.change.org/p/sherry-twamley-overcharged-cottonwood-az-water-bill-payers-demand-investigation
Heard the City Utility is pushing another water rate increase. WHY? They have improved their asset to debt ratio and thus their bond rating, using the good faith and pocket books of the Cottonwood municipal and mostly the Cottonwood non municipal water rate payers. They qualified (questionably) through WIFA to have their municipal water bonds refinanced at a lower rate, with some principal forgiveness, and then took more money out adding to the total bond indebtedness at the expense of the water rate payers, again. The City’s Municipal Utility has $millions in reserve funds, continues to add outside indebtedness such as the cost of reclaimed water injection wells for their over budget multi million dollar SATELLITE waste water plant. Those injection wells are not a new source of water for the Verde Valley aquifer as reasoned by the city to push the cost off onto the water rate payers , those wells are needed to dispose of the reclaimed water produced by the new waste water plant, because the city was denied access to pump the water directly back into the Verde River. That is your aquifer the City of Cottonwood is planning to taint with their reclaimed sewer water. Folks You better wake UP!!