Mayor Offers State of the Town of Kearny

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Mayor Debra Sommers

First and foremost, allow me to thank everyone for making the efforts to stay safe and use your God-given ability to make good decisions in preserving the safety and welfare of yourself and your family. 

  The Town Council decided to forego attempts to push limiting regulations onto the residents of Kearny, and instead, placed trust and faith in the good people of this unique community. Rather than imposing limiting restrictions on how you choose to live your lives, we decided to stay out of your business, stay away from limiting restrictions, and give you the ability to live your lives as you decide. 

   Data from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) website shows cases of COVID in Kearny’s zip code; however, the data shown can be misleading. The problem is Kearny’s zip code includes the town limits and large areas outside the town limits, including Kelvin and Riverside. As of Thursday, July 9, there are 19 positive COVID cases in the 85137 zip code, and 13 positive COVID cases in Kearny town limits. Ten of the positive cases were reported within the previous week. This suggests people are failing to make physical distancing a priority. 

  When people ask me how we are keeping the community safe, I advise them: keeping yourself safe is your responsibility. I advise them: follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). I advise them: avoid gatherings of people, maintain physical distancing, and the best practice is to stay home. Many positive COVID cases in Kearny include people that participated in large group gatherings. 

  Keeping yourself safe is your responsibility, and not the responsibility of government. 

  The COVID situation adversely impacted every city, town and state in the United States. While Kearny’s budget has been tight for years, the unpredictable streams of incoming revenue from the COVID situation made the reality more alarming. Reduced amounts of incoming revenue forced the Town to create two separate and different budgets for the new fiscal year. One budget reflects slightly lower income, while another budget reflects significant reductions in revenue caused by COVID. The result of COVID economics may be an alarming reduction in the Town’s revenue in future budgets, and with that, a reduction in the Town’s capacity to provide the same services expected in prior years. 

  Rather than painting a misleading picture of idealistic images, I choose to disclose the harsh reality to the residents of Kearny. COVID had not been kind to the Town of Kearny’s budget. Spending to support the Kearny Ambulance has created a financial hardship for the Town. 

  I have made many hard decisions and advocated many unpopular positions during my years as Mayor. Any reputable application of leadership, especially genuine and transparent leadership, often requires disclosing the “hard to swallow” reality of difficult and painful situations, rather than painting idealistic images of rehabilitated lakes, community movie nights, and other “feel good” things. 

  When people ask me where I am each day, I advise them I am at Kearny Town Hall nearly every day, working with staff to ensure the priorities of the Town are sustainable. Rather than knocking on doors, I instead choose to follow the guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and avoid unnecessary contact with people during this pandemic. I choose to respect the safety of the residents of Kearny. 

  Throwing money into rehabilitating Kearny Lake cannot be a priority. The Lake is defectively designed. The water inlet and outlet are too close together, which doesn’t allow water to circulate, which prevents the circulation of oxygen throughout the Lake. Installing aerators at the Lake is a very short-term and cosmetic solution that would last only a few short years. Aerators are expensive, and aerators don’t resolve algae blooms or high concentrations of Total Dissolved Solids in the water. 

  Kearny Lake has a history of golden algae blooms. Golden algae prefer saline water, which makes Kearny Lake a perfect breeding ground for this strain of algae. Golden algae are renown for killing fish. The algae, coupled with Total Dissolved Solids in the water, cause fish to asphyxiate. The expense of stocking the Lake could quickly result in an even more expensive clean-up process to remove dead fish.  

  Even if water from an outside source was pumped into Kearny Lake, high concentrations of Total Dissolved Solids cannot be abated. It is a common feature of groundwater pumped from wells in the Arizona desert. Fortunately, Kearny maintains an efficient filtering plant that provides clean water to residents: a filtering plant that will soon undergo scheduled evaluations, system analysis and upgrades; and a filtering plant that will never have the output capacity to meet the water demands of Kearny Lake.  

  A short-term, cosmetic solution to the problems at Kearny Lake is estimated to cost nearly $500,000. A longer-term, more permanent solution, is estimated to cost nearly $1 million. No grant funding program can be expected to award the Town half a million dollars for a short-term solution that cannot be sustained for more than a few short years. Promises of securing such grant funds are unrealistic. 

  Respectfully Submitted,

Debra Sommers
Mayor of Kearny

Staff (5721 Posts)

There are news or informational items frequently written by staff or submitted to the Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner, Superior Sun, Pinal Nugget or Oracle Towne Crier for inclusion in our print or digital products. These items are not credited with an author.


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