Since 1991, Jerome has been out of compliance with state mandates.
The town does not have a general plan, the last being the one adopted in 1981. General plans for the town’s direction last 10 years.
A committee was formed four years ago to draft the initial document, but has since been bogged down by what was described by members present as grammar nuts and nitpickers.
The issue was brought back up because Mayor Frank Vander Horst expressed his concern about Arizona Senate Bill 1487 and whether the town could lose state funding for not having the required plan.
Councilman Lew Currier said he was told the town was too small to require the general plan — though it was a good idea to have one — and urged council to contact the town attorney to double-check this point.
The exasperated committee members present said they were nearly done and when Vice Mayor Jay Kinsella suggested the group needed a firm deadline, they readily agreed.
Committee members were asked, if Gov. Doug Ducey called and demanded the plan be set on his desk, when could they have it? The general consensus was tomorrow.
As a result, Town Council set the matter to be presented in its finished draft on or before council’s April meeting.
Jerome is debating whether to hire a new finance director and subsequently add the position via ordinance to the town code.
During the Feb. 14 Town Council meeting, the position’s responsibilities were addressed as Jerome copes without for the time being. In the end, it was decided to table the matter of creating the position officially until other transitions were established.
The finance director, as described by Currier, had roughly one-quarter of the month in hours worked dedicated to payroll. This is changing, however, as council moved to outsource its payroll to ADP, a private company. The outsourcing has no contract so it can be stopped at any time but members of the council expressed satisfaction at the job ADP did in their encounters with it as private citizens.
Due to the town’s small size, it was debated as to what level of money management was needed — whether a bookkeeper was sufficient or a certified public accountant. The reasoning behind getting only what was needed was to keep pay for the position low if possible, but Courrier said that prior errors in the town’s numbers have shown that likely the town will need a CPA.
Council was presented its traffic study, done by upperclassmen at Northern Arizona University.
Jerome is not the only town to undergo a traffic study recently. Sedona is more than halfway through its own. Unlike Sedona’s $250,000 bill, however, Jerome paid nothing for the study as it was part of the NAU students’ capstone project — essentially a senior final project. If it were billed, though, labor costs would have been roughly $40,000.
The study mainly looked at expanding parking without building any new parking areas. The study showed how different angles for parking in existing areas could bring 19 new spaces. Including new signs and everything else, the study recommended the town spend $7,577 in improvements.
Council, after hearing the presentation from Zoning Administrator/Planner Kyle Dabney, said it would look in more detail at the study before deciding whether to adopt the recommendations.
Raising a New Roof
The town also addressed the lapse of a lease with the Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery. The business has held, off and on, a lease that is below market value held with the city, which owns the property. Council was concerned as to the legality of offering a below-market-value lease due to state statute, which requires monetized proof that the co-op is doing good for the community.
Though it was clear the town had no intention of not working with the co-op or leasing to another business, the town seemed to lean toward a small increase in rent while it brainstormed ideas for how the co-op adds value.
One idea, presented by Councilman Hunter Bachrach, was to have volunteers do the tear-off work for a new roof. The co-op would supply the volunteers and, as per an initial quote received for the job, would save $11,000 on the project, which could be used as justification of keeping the rent low.
Vander Horst expressed concern that this idea could create a situation where there is always something that needs fixing and subsequent writing off at the co-op building.
The co-op’s contribution currently comes in the form of public bathrooms at the location.
Councilwoman Alex Barber said she heard there may be asbestos on the roof, which would have to be disposed of before any volunteers could work. This ultimately led to the idea being tabled, though not before discussing safety and OSHA standards.
The Yavapai-Apache Nation gave a check to the town at the council meeting for its share of Proposition 202 funding. The town received $18,773 from the Nation, which is obligated to pay municipalities part of gaming money generated at tribal casinos.