Facts vs Fiction
Carefree Town Officials Respond
A letter from a Carefree resident that recently appeared in the Sonoran News has prompted two responses from Town officials that Carefree Unity has been asked to publish. We believe the responses contain information in the public interest.
The first post is a response from Carefree Town Council members Tony Geiger and Mike Johnson:
Carefree Propositions: Facts vs Fiction
The April 6th edition of the Sonoran News published a letter from Mr. John Mattes. In that letter Mr. Mattes labors on about several topics including advocating for the passage of Proposition 472 (the “Open Space Initiative”), all of Carefree is on the hook for $32M of debt for the Carefree Water Project, and in our opinion, alleged miss-dealings with the future development on the property located on the northwest corner of Carefree Highway and Tom Darlington Rd.
Accordingly, the negative consequences of passage of Proposition 472 would be the following:
1) The buried water reservoir currently under construction in a utility easement along Tom Darlington would need to be demolished, the ground restored and the reservoir rebuilt in a substantially less desirable location. The cost is estimated to be in excess of $8,000,000. This is money the Carefree Water Company does not have. It will require the water company to borrow in an environment of dramatically increasing interest rates and result in a significant rate increase for all Carefree Water Company customers, in order to pay back the new debt.
2) The proposition creates a situation where the use of eminent domain is retroactively undone. This would set a dangerous precedent and is of great concern to several cities, towns and government entities in Arizona. There is significant potential for litigation as to the legality of such a provision. This is litigation that a small town like Carefree does not need to be in the middle of.
3) It will require a vote of the citizens of Carefree to have anyone buried in the Carefree cemetery off of North Pima Rd. because that land is designated as “Open Space”.
Interestingly enough, at the April 5th Carefree Town Council meeting, during the call to public, Mr. Mattes urged the council to cancel all planned road maintenance projects, as in his stated opinion, a recession and stagflation were coming and the town needed to hold onto all is financial flexibility to deal with the hard times on the horizon. The Town Engineer even explained that if we defer road maintenance for too long the cost would go up exponentially. In spite of such facts, Mr. Mattes insisted that the Town not spend any money.
Our question is, if we should not spend any money maintaining our roads to prepare for a coming recession and difficult financial times ahead, how is it a good idea to demolish a brand-new water reservoir, forcing the Town to incur millions of dollars in unnecessary cost, new debt and significant increases in water rates? This is a reservoir that is located at the most optimal and efficient site of the 32 locations evaluated based on an objective engineering criteria and keeping with the Council’s fiduciary obligation of providing for the most public good with the least private harm. It does not make any sense.
Proposition 472 is irresponsible, ill-conceived government and bad for Carefree. We urge the voters to reject it.
With respect to Mr. Mattes’s narratives about the $18M ($32M principal and interest) cost/debt for the Carefree Water Project, the people affected are the new West Carefree water accounts that are being connected. They will pay a monthly $20 surcharge in addition to bringing estimated new revenues of $1.1M annually to service the debt, approximately $1.1M. The rest of Carefree will only be subject to normal annual rates changes. Throwing out very large numbers without explanation is simply disingenuous.
Finally, the comments about the Lassen property being benefited by the new water reservoir have been de-bunked in the public record and are false. The insinuation that town officials or their friends are benefiting by any transaction related to this property are false and unsubstantiated. The pieced together emails presented just don’t make the case.
It’s time to end the hand waving and engage in factual thoughtful debate.
Carefree Council Members