The Star Valley Town Council says it’s up to voters to keep spending decisions local and out of the hands of the state in the upcoming election.
Star Valley is holding a primary election March 13, with ballots arriving in mailboxes soon. On the ballot are three councilors up for re-election and the Alternative Expenditure Limitation or “home rule” option.
Under home rule, the town sets its spending limit, rather than the state for the next four years. Star Valley voters approved home rule in 2008.
If home rule passes, Star Valley plans to spend $3.2 million next year. If it fails, the state-imposed limitation would cap spending at $2.6 million, $600,000 under what councilors say is needed to keep Star Valley running.
Star Valley Mayor Bill Rappaport said it is imperative home rule is approved.
“If we do not pass this, there is a very good chance that everything the town has accomplished to date will stop,” he said.
“By this I mean the newly acquired water department, continuing work on our streets and additional projects that will improve our town.”
Additionally, a state-imposed budget would likely mean huge cutbacks at town hall and services, he said.
The state sets spending limits based on 1980 expenditures and 1978 population figures adjusted for inflation and growth through 2010. It does not take into account new services, grants or emergency needs.
While the state will set the town’s spending limit if home rule does not pass, it cannot limit revenue.
Star Valley estimates revenue in fiscal year 2012/2013 at $3.34 million, $770,000 above the state’s spending limitation. That money could not be spent if home rule fails.
“As you may know, Star Valley is one of a very few towns in Arizona that is in the black and financially sound, unlike our state,” Rappaport said. “Do you want those people managing our finances?”
As of September 2010, 79 cities and towns have adopted alternative expenditure limitations, according to the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
Up for re-election are Councilors George Binney, Gary Coon and Barbara Hartwell. They are running unopposed.
The last day to register to vote in the March 13 election is Monday, Feb. 13.