Council passes tentative budget, honors departing Wentzel

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By Chase Kamp

Superior Sun

The Superior Town Council passed its tentative budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year at its regular meeting on June 20, setting the budget ceiling at [] in preparation for possible final passage on July 18.

The council also said goodbye to longtime town clerk and manager Rita Wentzel, who wore a number of different hats in the last few years as the town sought to pull itself out of financial difficulty.

Pat Walker, of Pat Walker Consulting, advised the council on this year’s budget and noted some of the major changes in a presentation at the meeting.

Walker said the town is set to have a $9,600 increase in property taxes due to new growth, as Assessed value is down 26 percent but $151,000 has been added for new construction.

The budget also foresees $380,000 from a two percent increased sales tax.

In accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes, every tax increase must come with a 60-day public notice. If approved and submitted to the state by the earliest date, Aug. 20, the taxes would be effective on Nov. 1.

The town is still staring down a $4.3 million deficit, Walker noted. These additional $389,000 could be applied to the town’s Highway User Revenue Fund debt.

The town also adopted her suggested charge for ambulance refusals, which is expected to net the town around $113,000. She said collection efforts to recoup town costs would pull an additional $35,000.

The tentative budget allows $624,000 to be transferred out of general fund for sewer taxes, fire station debt service, MPC debt service and the aforementioned HURF payment.

In a lighter moment, the town recognized Wentzel for her service, as she is stepping down for health reasons.

Recently appointed town attorney and manager Kane Graves said he would miss Wentzel both personally and professionally. “I thank her for holding my hand as I came to know more about community,” he said.

Councilmember John Tameron agreed. “She opened my eyes to a lot of things going on,” he said. “I wish her well.”

“We’re going to be in a world of hurt without you,” said councilmember Soyla “Kiki” Peralta. “You’ve kept us straight.”

Wentzel accepted a gift basket from the council and voiced her hope that Superior will continue to improve its outlook.

“Nothing divides or unites it more than financial problems,” Wentzel said. “We’ve come a long way and have a long way to go. I’m optimistic that in this town, everything we wish for will come to fruition.”

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