Last year in Cave Creek, our Town and its amazing staff achieved an incredible amount of their business goals. Just in terms of WATER, our most precious natural resource, we entered into the FIRST intergovernmental agreement with the City of Phoenix that solved major water infrastructure issues that had prevented commercial development along Carefree Highway and its associated sales tax revenues for our Town. We began scouting and purchasing land to improve four booster pump stations that bring Colorado River water from Central Arizona Project at Deer Valley Road in Phoenix twelve miles into Cave Creek. We began operating new pall membrane units and completed the design phase of a SCADA upgrade project at our water treatment plant. The Rancho Manana lift station improvement work is ongoing and the Joy Ranch well was put back into production. We entered a long‐term contract to repair, replace and maintain air release valves on the Town’s water and wastewater lines for more efficient operations. Our Utility Director has put together an excellent team of employees with many years of experience, knowledge and professional certifications who provide continuous improvement of the water and wastewater systems. And this was just YEAR ONE of his employment with the Town.
I provide all this background information because this FY21 budget is once again primarily focused on capital improvements and modifications to our water and wastewater systems. Each year, the Cave Creek Town Council adopts a budget that is based on a fiscal year that begins on July 1 and ends June 30. Your Town Council voted UNANIMOUSLY on June 22, 2020 to adopt the proposed tentative budget that CAPS expenditures at $37,748,705. This cap means the Town cannot exceed this amount, but it may not spend it all if time and human resources do not permit.
Along with the water and wastewater expenditures, it includes funding for road maintenance and construction and other essential projects and improvements as summarized below. Each project will be considered cautiously with our focus on the impact of COVID‐19 and what it does to our economy. In other words, just because it is budgeted does not mean the expenditure will occur. But the projects must be in the budget for them to be purchased or constructed.
The entire Budget document is posted for public review on the Cave Creek website under the Finance tab, www.cavecreekaz.gov. I support this budget and its transparency with our community. I’ll begin this summary with a quick profile of Cave Creek from the 2010 Census, which was last updated in 2018.
Profile of Cave Creek
Cave Creek’s population is 5,838 with 52.2% of the residents female and 47.8% male. 10.8% are under 18 years old, 34.8% are 65 and older. The median income is $85,529. There are 2.13 persons per household. 53.5% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The median value of owner‐occupied housing is $485,400 and there are 2,615 housing units in Cave Creek.
Budget assumptions and trends
In terms of revenue, the continued economic growth in Arizona and the Town is contingent upon the extent and long‐term effects of COVID‐19. Highlighted by continued increase in real estate and construction activity over previous years and tied with consumer confidence and an above average population of well‐educated and higher income households, Cave Creek and its residents are in a good position but Council and staff are being very cautious as we continue to look forward to the future.
In addition to the day‐to‐day programs and activities of each department in Town Hall, notable expenditures in this year’s budget include the following.
Administration: The Town Manager’s FY2021 budget is $322,250 down from $372,850 in FY2020. The Town is not increasing its total number of employees; however, we have been and continue to reorganize department functions to better utilize the existing positions to be more effective and efficient. Medical benefit costs are expected to increase by 10% and retirement benefit costs are also expected to increase as determined by the State.
Legal services: $650,000 up from $588,000 in FY2020, primarily due to the Condemnation proceeding by the Town of Carefree.
Planning, Zoning and Economic Development: $501,700 down from $755,300, as the expenditures related to updating the General Plan come to an end and we begin surveying and mapping Right of Ways and expand the Town mapping database to include trails and pathways.
Building and Fire Safety, including Town Facilities and Fleet, Parks and the Rodeo Grounds: The FY2021 budget is $1,284,960 down from $1,875,400 in FY2020. This year, the major project tentatively budgeted for is restrooms at the Rodeo Grounds, however, the project is contingent upon how the local economy is affected by COVID‐19. Mayor and Council will decide if the project moves forward based on how revenues come in and a presentation of the Project Cost Proposal.
Finance: $604,550 as compared with $606,550 in FY2020. Notable costs have not changed from prior year. They include professional services, software maintenance agreements, and bank service fees.
Town Council: FY2021 budget includes for the first time, a budget estimate of $300,000 to cover the costs of fighting two devastating wildfires; the Ocotillo Fire and the East Desert Fire. It is important to note that the costs could have been in the millions had it not been for assistance from federal, state and local jurisdictions in fighting these wildfires. In addition, Council continues to develop unified Mission, Vision and Values for the Town and a strategic goal setting process which provides a foundation for future budgets.
Contingency Fund: Each year Council sets aside a Contingency fund which is not expected to be spent but is available in case of emergencies. This year the contingency is $739,000, down from $769,700 in FY2020.
Public Works and Engineering: $2,139,129, down from $2,807,936 in FY2020. The primary focus of this division is maintaining and improving Town roads and rights of way.
Water and Wastewater: Funding for Cave Creek’s ongoing water infrastructure capital projects is a significant $7,354,918 to construct and maintain the transmission, treatment and distribution systems within the Cave Creek water system. Ongoing multi‐year projects include design for water line interconnection with Phoenix ($375,000), water treatment plant Pall Membrane Filters ($2,422,000), a SCADA System to remotely monitor and control utility sites ($300,000), and construction of new CAP pump stations ($4,540,000).
Desert Hills Water System Capital Project includes a SCADA System to remotely monitor and control utility sites ($40,000) Master Plan Improvements ($50,000) and repair of Storage Reservoirs ($50,000).
The Cave Creek Wastewater System budget includes a Manhole Rehabilitation Program ($60,000), completions of upgrades to the Rancho Manana Lift Station ($50,000), completion of a new bypass connection at Chuparosa Lift Station ($150,000) and evaluations and repairs of the Wastewater System ($150,000).
As mentioned earlier, more extensive detail on all these categories is available on the Town’s website, www.cavecreekaz.gov. I would be happy to answer or direct your questions to the appropriate people within Town Hall.
Mayor Ernie Bunch
Town of Cave Creek