Quartzsite Town Council members discussed the proposed Budget for 2010-2011 during a Work Session on Friday, June 18, 2010. For the first time in many council sessions, the meeting was uneventful with no outbursts from the public.
There were questions raised about tracking RV sales tax license, how money was being used to offset water/sewer expenses. Barbara Cowell arrived late, and announced power had been out to 97 homes, but power has been been restored. Mayor Ed Foster asked for explanation of the codes used in the financial statements. Finance Director, Heidi Turner explained the process. Other questions raised were about the Gateway signage project grant matching funds and the Hi Jolly signage expenses. Vendor license fees were also questioned. Turner explained vendor license fees are still $50, but are only $25 for the Q.I.A Pow Wow. Town Manager, Alex Taft, reported that attorney fees have doubled over the past year. She explained that the increase was not due to increase of their hourly rate, but the increase of hours used.
Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert said he wanted to clear up some misunderstanding about the new police car, "It was not purchased for $50,000....A grant purchased the vehicle and equipment for (approx.) $39,000." Gilbert explained revenues for impounded vehicles declined over the past year, as changes were made by former Mayor Steve Bennett. He suggested the council revisit that policy. There is a new law that may require a 30 impound on some infractions, so revenues may increase. Questions were raised about overtime exceeding the budget by $7,000, however Council Member Jose Lizarraga said he is used to seeing much higher figures in his job of being a fire fighter.
Gilbert announced Officer Jim Shultz is back in town and expects to return to duty Mid July. Major James Schultz was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army on Nov. 9. Schultz was serving a tour in the United States Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Space Operations Officer for the 3rd Army at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. LTC James "Jim" Schultz has been a police officer for the Quartzsite Police Department for the past 14 years.
Magistrate Terry Frausto reported only about 40% of the funds from citations are kept locally, with each infraction having a base line. She reported criminal charges and expenses have increased by 50% over last year. She went on to say that officers spend more time processing criminal offenses than simple traffic citations. More time spent by officers, clerks, pretrial paperwork, etc.
Editor's note: I was personally glad to see the Quartzsite Town Council work as a team, and speaking with respect. However, Mayor Foster did not follow the agenda: there was no Roll Call nor Reports & Announcements. The Communications/Petitions & Citizens Comments were not officially called for either. Town Attorney, Pam Walsma is on vacation and attorney Stephen Shadle was present, but was not introduced to the public.
I urge all attendees to turn off their cell phones during all public meetings, as Mayor Foster's phone rang at least twice, disrupting the speakers. As one blogger states, Cell phones users need their own rules of etiquette, or we'll descend into social barbarism. For more information visit: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-cell-phone-etiquette.htm