Sides present pros and cons of incorporation

GOLDEN VALLEY - Organizers on both sides of the incorporation of Golden Valley issue have stepped up to the microphone in their efforts to win votes in the Sept. 11 vote to determine whether Golden Valley will incorporate.

Incorporate Golden Valley, the group pushing for incorporation, said incorporation will give the community better control over its future by allowing residents to control growth and keep the small-town atmosphere through their own Planning and Zoning ordinances.

The community will have better roads because they won't have to wait for the county to fix them, the area will have better police protection because it will have its own police force, and residents will have local concerns addressed locally by a city council, instead of having to vie with several other communities for the attention of the Board of Supervisors, they said.

Residents will also have more direct control over their elected leaders. If residents don't feel that city council members are doing a good job, they can vote them out of office easily.

The incorporated area will have better control over how taxes are collected, levied and used. Residents will be able to decide on what taxes they want and how much they want to charge.

IGV also raised concerns about possible attempts from Kingman or Bullhead to annex Golden Valley into their city limits.

On the other side of the fence is a group of residents who think the idea of incorporating the area right now is just silly.

Members of Concerned Citizens Against the Incorporation of Golden Valley said incorporation might not give residents more control over their future.

City councils have a lot of power to make decisions on behalf of the people, there are taxes that a city council can levy without a vote of the people, and councils can raise the rate of sales tax or float bonds without asking permission from the people, they said.

As for controlling growth, the area would still fall under county Planning and Zoning ordinances and the Golden Valley Area Plan, they said.

Residents can petition the county to place a road on the county's maintenance schedule and improve it, they said. Residents are going to have to pay for better roads either way, they said.

However, through the county, a majority of residents along a road must agree to the assessment before the county can improve the road. A city can just assess the cost to residents.

The CCAIGV contends police protection, water, sanitation and fire services would all have to be taken over and paid for by the new city. They estimate the cost will be close to $1.8 million for a police and pubic works department for a city of about 5,000 people.

Residents shouldn't depend on state shared revenues to pay for everything, they said. In March they released figures on the towns of Snowflake and Holbrook, each with a population of around 5,500.

Snowflake's estimated state shared revenue was $1,686,399. Its operating budget was $9,600,000.

Holbrook had estimated state shared revenue of $1.86 million and its operating budget was $10 million.

According to state statute, cities and other governments cannot run a deficit. According to CCAIGV, the only way to avoid a deficit would be to levy a tax to cover what shortfall there might be between state shared revenues and the city's expenses.

IGV says those expense figures are grossly overestimated.

The IGV recently released its own estimates gathered from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. One city with a population of 2,400 budgeted only $400,000 for police protection.

Taxes for a fire department wouldn't change because the area already has a fire department and residents are already taxed for it, IGV said.

The city doesn't need to create or buy a water company. Two water systems already exist in Golden Valley. Some cities, such as Bullhead City, have more than one water company to serve their residents, the group said.

As for sewer service, that will be required by the Environmental Protection Agency only if the population reaches a certain density. IGV did not state what that density number was. Their goal, they said, is to try and hold off reaching that population density for as long as possible.

The city could continue to contract out some services until the residents decided otherwise or the city raised enough revenue to provide its own services, IGV members said.

"If you're going to do that, why bother incorporating?" asked Susan Bayer, a member of the CCAIGV.

The county is going to continue to charge residents for service from the Sheriff's Office regardless of whether the area incorporates or not. All county residents are taxed for police protection through the Sheriff's Office.

"We'd essentially be paying twice for something we only get once," Bayer said.

Also, there isn't enough commercial development in the Golden Valley area for a sales tax, the CCAIGV said. It is unlikely that large chain stores will build in the area right now due to the fact that Golden Valley is between Kingman and Bullhead, they said.

As for control and response to local problems from government officials, CCAIGV said matters won't change. Residents have the power to vote county supervisors out of office now just as easily as they would have the power to vote out members of a city council.

The CCAIFV also called the IGV's fears of annexation silly. The expense of annexing the area in to either city would outweigh any benefit in taxes either city would see, they said,

Both groups said they plan to continue their battle to win the hearts and minds of Golden Valley residents right up to the Sept. 11 election.