TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Members of the new Tusayan Town Council (TTC) have had a busy couple of weeks as they work to organize the small community's new city government. In particular, town officials have been working toward transitioning from county control to local control, according to interim Tusayan Mayor Pete Shearer. He said the Tusayan council has had their hands full setting up the town's required city services. A date of July 1 has been set for the transition from county to city control.
"Police protection and planning and zoning, building permits and inspections are the main functions for which the town will assume responsibility as of July 1. We have no county roads within the town boundaries and so we don't have that added responsibility," Shearer said in a recent
Police protection for the small community may continue to be provided through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, Shearer added.
"Councilwoman (Ann) Wren and myself have met with Bill Pribble to discuss in detail a possible agreement for the Coconino County Sheriff's Department to provide continued protection through a contractual agreement," Shearer said.
An election will also be held for all five seats on the current Tusayan council. Interested individuals can pick up packets at the upstairs office of the Grand Canyon Best Western Squire Inn. Packets for interested parties are expected to be turned in by May 26, with an election scheduled for Aug. 24. Council member Clarinda Vail filed the call for election April 23. According to Shearer, the question of staggered positions will be put to voters on the Aug. 24 election.
"There will be a vote on Aug. 24 to decide if the town residents want to have staggered four year terms for the TTC in place of the two year terms. This will be a ballot issue and will be decided by the voters," Shearer said.
Council members have also begun to look at housing in the Tusayan area, Shearer said.
"We are also researching costs associated with the Housing Needs Assessment Study," Shearer said. "This is a first step in moving diligently towards improving the housing opportunities for area residents, which is one of the highest priorities of the current council. This study was recommended as part of the 1995 Tusayan Area Plan and is long overdue. We are also looking at adopting and updating the existing Tusayan Area Plan and at modifying and adopting the CC Comprehensive Plan. The council would like to see a smooth transition in these very important issues."
At their most recent meeting May 4, council members spoke about budget matters, particularly when it comes to state-shared revenues that the town of Tusayan can expect to receive.
"We are in the process of applying for warrants to fund operations until taxes and state shared revenues are received. We must have a budget approved before we can obtain any warrants and so this is a high priority for the council," Shearer said. "We have to create an Intergovenmental Agreement with Arizona Department of Revenue in order to obtain accurate information on state revenues for the incorporated area."
Council meetings have currently been scheduled for the second and fourth Wenesday of each month. Meetings on the first Wednesday of each month will begin at 6 p.m. at the Hopi Room of the Best Western, Shearer said
"This will allow for more public to attend without as much conflict with work schedules," Shearer said. The second meeting will be held in the same location, but will begin at 10 a.m. The meeting is currently scheduled for May 12 at the Squire Inn at 6 p.m. Another is planned for 10 a.m. on May 26 at the same location. Council members are still looking for a permanent town hall/meeting location, Shearer added. Town officials may also begin looking for a city manager/city clerk in the coming weeks as well.
On April 28, Tom Belshe with the Arizona League of Cities and Towns returned to the Tusayan area to give a four hour presentation on taxes and other matters.
"The council provided feedback for the League to prepare the model city tax code for final adoption," Shearer said, adding that council members continue to work on their budget.
"For clarification, this means that we will have a 9.737 percent tax rate for Tusayan," he said. "It currently is 6.737 percent. No taxes will be assessed on food for personal use and no taxes are planned on residential properties. Our goal is to have the tourist dollars pay for improvements to the community and to keep the cost to residents to a minimum. We also are considering a tax on Jet-A fuel as an additional source of revenue."
Shearer said work is also progressing on a number of other items, including a Tusayan school site, lighting in Tusayan and a regional marketing study.
"We are cooperating with the Grand Canyon School District in getting zoning changes made for the Tusayan School Site," Shearer said. "We are hopeful that the town and school can help to better provide for recreational and athletic facilities that will benefit everyone, including Valle, Airport, USFS, NPS, and Tusayan residents equally. I would like to thank the Grand Canyon School Board and especially the school Superintendent, Sharyl Allen, for all their support and cooperation."
Shearer also thanked officials with Arizona Public Service and the Department of Transportation for their help in replacing the existing lighting on the streets of Tusayan with more environmentally friendly, lower impact LED lights - part of a local Highway 64 project.
"This project, initiated by Carl Taylor, will create a facelift for Tusayan. It will make the community safer and more appealing and we want to thank our County Representative for his support and efforts on our behalf," Shearer said.