By Anna Flores, Kearny Town Manager
Mayor Sommers, the Kearny Town Council and staff are working hard to leave Kearny better than they found it. There are several milestones that have been accomplished in such a short time.
During Mayor Sommers’ time in office, the Town of Kearny has seen a 2.6% jump in growth. The Town of Kearny is one of the fastest growing towns in Arizona under 15,000 people. We are the second safest town in Arizona.
The Town has seen a significant increase in student population to our local schools. Since more families are moving into Kearny, there are less homes for sale, with a shortage of homes for rent. This is a significant boost to the local economy. The Town of Kearny has seen a 2.6% growth in state-shared revenues. The population of Kearny will continue to grow in the next five years.
The Mayor and the Town Council, with the recommendation from the Public Works Director, accelerated the repairs of Wells #8, #6, #4 and #3 up across the highway. This was a possibility because of a resolution that was approved by the Town Council regarding the re-distributing of the CAP fee, to be used for drinking water improvement projects. The Gila Water Commissioner cut the Town’s water apportionment in half, this year, so the Council had to think “outside the box” and repair the Wells because of this emergency situation. A federal judge, in the past, had recommended the Town come up with a permanent solution, in case of a major drought. The Town Council came up with a permanent solution. Water conservation is very important in our desert Town. We all know we are in the middle of a 21-year drought.
Mayor Sommers knew the Town’s garbage truck was on its last leg. The truck was purchased in 2007 and the Town needed to purchase a new garbage truck. The Mayor looked “outside the box” again and recommended the outsourcing of the Town’s solid waste. Instead of the Town looking for a 27% increase to our residents, because of the outsourcing, the residents saw their bills remain the same, with a recycling program added and a free added bulky pick-up every month. This has brought a significant cost savings to the Town of Kearny.
The Town of Kearny had two ambulances that were in the shop for repairs most of the time. The Mayor and the Council were able to approve the purchase of a new ambulance. This is an important service provided to all residents from the Top of the Divide to Aravaipa Canyon. The new ambulance brings more reliability to the Town of Kearny’s residents and the surrounding communities.
The Fire Department was able to purchase much needed turnouts, since the current turnouts are outdated. The new turnouts will help the Firefighters be in compliant, in case of fires this season.
The Town of Kearny is in the process of a sewer system rehabilitation. This has been a two-year project, with videoing and repairs starting soon. The Mayor and the Town Council want to leave the sewer system better than they found it. The sewer system rehabilitation is possible because of Community Development Block Grant funds, which is at no cost to the Town of Kearny’s residents.
The Magistrate was able to write a grant for security concerns at the Pinal County Courthouse. The grant was approved and new cameras with a new security window was installed. This was done with no cost to the Town of Kearny. Grants are another way of thinking “outside of the box.”
The Town of Kearny is also applying for a USDA grant to repair the water tanks, the booster tank and purchase new water meters because many of the water meters are not registering the water usage properly. They are old and do not monitor the correct water usage. The homeowner pays less in water usage because the meter is not recording the correct water usage. This is costing the Town of Kearny hundreds of thousands of gallons of incorrect water usage. With the installation of the new meters, the Town will be able to monitor the correct number of gallons being used. This is a win-win for everyone. The Public Works Employees will be able to read the water meters digitally, instead of driving for three days to read the water meters, manually. Since, the Public Works Department has had a decrease in personnel, the Department will be able to complete projects quickly because of the shortened time in reading the water meters.
The Pinal Regional Transportation Plan overseen by the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority sets forth a comprehensive, multimodal plan which includes a list of key roadway and public transportation projects to be developed over a period between 2018 and 2037, which was made possible because of the residents who voted for the ½ cent excise tax. The Town of Kearny will receive $300,000 annually, for a total of $6 million for roads and streets. This will be a significant boost for the Town of Kearny and a plan has been put in place to start road projects once the money is disseminated in July. The roads and streets in the outlying sections of the Town of Kearny will be repaired first since the sewer system rehabilitation project will be in full force and once the sewer system rehabilitation project is completed, then those roads will be resurfaced.
The Town of Kearny has a full-time Chief of Police and a fully staffed Police Department. The Police Chief and three of the Officers live in Kearny. This has been the best decision for the Town of Kearny. The crime rate is down and the Officers are also involved in community activities throughout the Town. The Chief of Police and the Officers are very visible in Town and they have a close-working relationship with the school. They attend many Town and School activities such as coaching Little League, attending all athletic activities and town functions.
Mayor Sommers and the Kearny Town Council also approved the renaming of the old “Teen Center” to the “Kearny Library Activity Center,’ since the children have a four-day school week, they are able to utilize the Kearny Library Activity Center on Fridays.
The Town of Kearny’s Administrative Office successfully implemented an upgrade to our existing Caselle Government Accounting Software. This has helped to provide more efficiency in processing financial transactions and increased accuracy in financial reporting. The Town continues to have Audited Annual Financial Statements with no findings. Also, the Administrative Office has seen increased improvement with the timeliness of utility payments from customers which helps improve the Town’s cash flow.
Currently, the Mayor, the Town Council and the staff are working diligently together to create a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year. This is a complex process, however, a balanced budget is created every year and this is an excellent time for the Council and the Staff to share ideas and proposals for the upcoming year.
As you can see, Kearny is a great place to live and we are “Rural By Choice.” If you have any suggestions, please stop by the Town Hall and speak to the Town Manager. Her door is always open. The Mayor and Council would love to listen to your input regarding the Town of Kearny. They are great listeners!!! They are the great movers and shakers of the Town of Kearny. They are really great at “Thinking Outside the Box.”