Chamber Board of Directors Votes to Oppose Massive City Fee Increase
On October 20, 2022 the Chamber’s Business Advocacy Division (BAD) met and heard a presentation from Ed Schenk, a City of Flagstaff stormwater utility official who offered the utility planned to bring forward a 300% rate hike on local residents in the coming weeks. The rate hike would be voted on by Mayor and Council in an effort to raise $80,000,000 plus over seven years. Following Ed Schenk’s presentation, the Chamber’s BAD heard from Congressman O’Halleran whose staff shared a portfolio highlighting the Congressman’s successful vote on the bi-partisan infrastructure bill that passed Congress last fall, and became law with President Biden’s signature.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has “$300 million in funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to help local communities recover after wildfires” according to the Congressman’s report. Additionally, another $950M is available to the Forest Service and Interior Dept. for “Burned Area Rehab programs” and “Forest Service Community Defense grants.”
When the Chamber’s Board of Directors learned of the situation, they voted to oppose the city’s taking of $80M+ in new fees out of the local economy via a fee hike by the stormwater utility. Mayor Deasy and Vice Mayor Sweet offered to meet with Chamber leaders to better understand the business community’s perspective. Chamber President and CEO, Julie Pastrick and Chamber Sr. Advisor for Public Policy, Joe Galli met recently with Mayor Deasy, Vice Mayor Sweet and City Manager Greg Clifton at Flagstaff City Hall and are encouraged by the initial discussions and additional options presented regarding the city’s proposed rate hike. We will keep you posted on any progress.