Hoping to tame the “carnivorous appetite” of the state Legislature, Star Valley joined with other cities and towns around the state Tuesday to say “no” to further cuts to state-shared revenue.
Star Valley’s share of the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) has been decreasing for at least the last six years. Since fiscal year 2007-2008, Star Valley’s HURF funds have declined 15 percent.
“The state Legislature is picking our pockets to make up for their budget woes,” said Town Manager/Attorney Tim Grier.
In fiscal year 2010-2011, Star Valley received $188,000 in funding, $32,800 less than in 2008.
The state is redirecting HURF money primarily to help fund the Arizona Department of Public Safety, taking money away from cities and counties.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, in 2008, DPS got $10 million from HURF. In 2010, that number ballooned to $78.6 million.
Cities, towns and counties rely on HURF monies to maintain roadways, so a decrease in funding can have drastic results.
“We recognize that this is one of the pockets that they are looking to pick, and this is a very important pocket for us,” Grier said.
Star Valley used HURF to pave nearly every road in town as well as install guardrails, shore up shoulders and maintain roadways.
“This resolution gives support to the Arizona League and joins with other cities voicing our opinion to stop,” Grier said.
Cities, towns and counties still receive the largest cut of HURF. But from 2008 to 2010, funding to towns decreased $105 million, according to figures from ADOT.
The Arizona League of Cities, Counties and Towns along with municipalities across the state are requesting the Legislature freeze future sweeps of HURF.
“I think it is important revenue and we use it very effectively to maintain roads and streets,” said Councilor Vern Leis, “and each year they continue to erode it.”
Because Star Valley does not collect a property tax, the town is funded on state-shared revenue sources as well as by photo enforcement tickets.
Grier said state-shared revenue is the town’s “food” and the legislators are taming their “carnivorous appetite … as they try to cure their budget problems” by passing the cuts on to towns like Star Valley.
“We, as cities and towns, are looked at to fix their problems, which sometimes is a result of myopic politicians at the state level,” he said.
The council unanimously supported the resolution, which asks the legislation to end sweeps of HURF monies.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The council approved a $7.56 million budget for next year.
• Councilor Gary Coon announced an emergency alert telephone system is up and running and available in case of an emergency.
In the event of a major disaster like a wildfire, the town will record a message, which will be sent to residents through an automated service.
“We have a good system to inform residents, now we just hope we never have to use it,” Coon said.
• The council approved spending $37,000 to install guardrails near a crossing on Valley Road, install gabions on Cornerstone Way and finish paving Valley Road. The town has already committed another $37,000 of grant funds to complete the projects.