Star Valley Continues Its Frugal Spending

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Most cities in Arizona are bracing for bad budget news.

In Star Valley, the money's coming in faster than projected and going out much more slowly, Town Manager Vito Tedeschi reported at the Tuesday, April 1, council meeting.

And despite the date -- he wasn't kidding.

Even so, a bid nearly twice as high as the projections prompted the ever-frugal council to postpone awarding a contract to chip seal local streets in hopes oil prices will fall in coming months.

Tedeschi said the town has collected about 93 percent of the revenue he had projected for the entire year -- although three months remain in the fiscal year. If present trends continue, the town will take in about 20 percent more revenue than projected by the end of the fiscal year in July.

By contrast, the town has spent only 39 percent of the money budgeted for the year -- mostly because of a delay in starting several major capital projects, he said.

"So we're solvent," joked Mayor Chuck Heron.

Still, the council balked at awarding an $87,630 contract to chip seal a list of streets, after Tedeschi reported that soaring oil prices had raised the cost dramatically.

The town had estimated the project would cost $71,500. Oil prices drove the $20,000-$25,000 per-mile cost of the chip sealing to $40,000-$45,000, Tedeschi reported.

He recommended the town reject the only bid the town received before the deadline.

"At this point, we have more time than money. I just don't see the town paying double" the old cost for the work, said Tedeschi.

The council took several other actions in the course of the hour-long meeting -- all on unanimous votes.

Among the council actions:

The council agreed to fill out forms rating Tedeschi's performance as town manager to prepare for a closed door evaluation prior to making a decision on renewing his contract. In the agenda packet, Tedeschi provided a salary comparison compiled by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns that included about a dozen other small Arizona cities. In the list he highlighted, town mangers earned an average of about $93,000 annually -- which was about $5,000 to $10,000 more than his salary in Star Valley.

The council approved an emergency zone change request on a portion of land owned by Roy Haught. Currently, the commercial property includes a piece of residential zoning that qualifies as a "non-conforming use." The zone change would make the whole parcel commercial.

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