What’s going on in Cochise County this week

What’s going on in Cochise County this week
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COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Happenings in Cochise County this week beginning June 24:

County to introduce foreclosed property register, new subdivision rules

An amendment to Cochise County’s Zoning Regulations will allow staff to be more proactive in dealing with potential blighted and nuisance properties.

At its regular meeting on June 25, the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to adopt a Foreclosure Registry, which will list bank owned sites throughout the region. Banks would voluntarily add properties to the registry for a fee, yet to be determined.

The registry will provide Development Services with an up-to-date list of foreclosed and vacant properties in unincorporated areas of the County, allowing staff to stay ahead of potential issues, such as graffiti, vandalism, and illegal dumping. The County will have contact details for those properties, which will help expedite the code enforcement process.

“It will trigger active code enforcement where we can get ahead of any problems before they become big problems,” said Development Services Director Dan Coxworth. “It will also help to protect property values.”

The City of Sierra Vista already has its own Foreclosure Registry, which has been very effective, Coxworth added.

In other business the Board voted to repeal and replace the Cochise County Subdivision Regulations with a more user-friendly document in keeping with current practices.

First adopted in 1974, the regulations were too complex, contradictory, and did not take into account modern methods of doing business, explained Planner Christine McLachlan. The new regulations will also now be in line with state statutes.

Additionally, the document has been reorganized to follow the development process and provides provisions to further protect open space and natural and historical resources. The new regulations also eliminate the Minor Expedited Subdivision option, which allowed developers of small subdivisions to circumvent some planning processes.

Cochise County adopts final 2019-2020 budget, maintains property taxes

The Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted Cochise County’s final 2019-2020 budget at a special meeting and public hearing on June 25.

There were no changes to the total amounts in the previously adopted tentative budget. The total budget is $194,785,677, to include $85,097,674 in General Funds and $109,688,003 in Special Revenue Funds. The property tax rate will not increase.

Finance Manager Dan Duchon said some minor adjustments had been made following approval of the tentative budget for subsequent State costs, but these had been taken into account during the budgeting process.

The Board also:

  • Adopted a final 2019-2020 budget of $6,549,965 for the Flood Control District. There will be an increase in secondary property taxes of $15,789 or 0.78%. The secondary property taxes on a $100,000 home will be $25.97, an increase of 20 cents.
  • Adopted a final 2019-2020 budget of $2,340,665 for the Library District. There is no primary tax rate change for the Library District.
  • Adopted final 2019-2020 budgets for the following Light Improvement Districts: Bowie ($11,423), Golden Acres ($9,189), Naco ($8,389), Pirtleville ($12,612) and Sunsites ($26,063). There are no primary tax rate changes for these districts.
  • Adopted the tax rates and levies for Cochise County taxing entities.

To review the budgets, tax rates and levies visit http://agenda.cochise.az.gov/agenda_publish.cfm?id=&mt=ALL&get_month=6&get_year=2019&dsp=ag&seq=1716

The County is not responsible for any increase in tax rates set by local school and special districts, which have their own elected boards.

Partnerships help to improve rural County library

A collaborative approach to improve a rural County library has not only enhanced the environment for patrons but saved taxpayers hundreds of dollars.

The Elfrida Library, a branch of the Cochise County Library District, has been a busy community hub since it opened in 2003. Books and programs have come and gone, but the physical space has not changed much over the years. The collection of books sat on bare metal shelves, which were functional but uninviting.

Working on shelves for Elfrida library (Source: Cochise County)
Working on shelves for Elfrida library (Source: Cochise County) (Source: Cochise County)

Library staff hoped to improve the appearance of the facility by adding wooden end panels to the shelving, but the cost – more than $2,100 – was more than was available to spend. In March, the library reached out to Valley Union High School for help.

Working on shelves for Elfrida library (Source: Cochise County)
Working on shelves for Elfrida library (Source: Cochise County)

Principal Kyle Hart and Agriscience Instructor Davida Noble were willing to consider the end panels as a student project, and the library was able to purchase wood and supplies for under $400. Seniors in the Agriscience program got to work in their wood shop and by the end of the school year had crafted eight end panels, nearly identical to those from the library supplier.

The Cochise County Facilities Department installed the panels at the library earlier this month and name plates were added thanking the students and Valley Union High School.

“It is amazing how much this changes the look of the library,” said Branch Manager Stephanie Fulton. “It is much warmer and more welcoming. The students did an amazing and professional job.”

The improved shelving combines with new children’s furniture and updated youth collections at the library, which were purchased with support from the Troller Fund, held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

Library District Director Amadee Ricketts said, “We are excited about the opportunity to make the library a more comfortable space for the whole community, and we are thankful for the help we have received from partners like Valley Union High School and the Troller Fund. With their help, the Elfrida Library is better than ever.”

  • Learn more about the libraries at www.cochiselibrary.org, or call the Cochise County Library District at 520-432-8930.

Board approves Dollar General rezoning, grant for crime victims

Plans to build a new Dollar General store in Mescal will move ahead, following a rezoning request approval by the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. The 9,100 square foot store will be constructed on the northwest corner of Burro Lane and Mescal Road.

Developer DCM Development requested a rezoning of the store site from RU-4 (rural one dwelling per four acres) to RU-2, stating they did not need the entire property to build on. The 4.82-acre parcel will be split, with the vacant land remaining with another owner.

The application for a special use authorization and rezoning was originally heard by the Planning & Zoning Commission in April, but due to concerns regarding signage, lighting, impact to neighbors, and traffic safety, the developer was asked to address any issues and resubmit the request. Another public hearing was held on May 8, where the Commission conditionally approved the special use and unanimously approved the rezoning application.

The Board of Supervisors agreed with the Commission’s vote and approved the rezoning at its regular meeting on June 25.

In other business, the Board approved a one-year Crime Victim Compensation grant for $75,460. The award will be used by the Cochise County Attorney’s Victim Witness Program to provide crime victims with compensation for injuries and losses.

A portion of the recurring grant will pay for a part-time victim compensation coordinator, and there are no costs to the County, which is mandated through state law to provide the program.

County coalition wins property redevelopment grant

The award of an economic development grant will allow Cochise County and its community partners to move forward revitalization efforts at regional brownfield sites.

The County formed a coalition with the Cities of Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and Douglas, and successfully applied for the $600,000 grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Assessment Program.

The funding will be used to further brownfield site assessments and redevelopment throughout Cochise County. A brownfield site is a property where redevelopment, expansion or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

The coalition will now establish an effective brownfields program to engage the community and create a comprehensive inventory of sites. It will also prioritize revitalization opportunities, perform Phase One and Phase Two Environmental Site Assessments and conduct planning activities.

Once a process has been developed to assess and remediate brownfield sites, the coalition will help facilitate the public-private partnerships necessary to complete redevelopment efforts.

“This is a competitive grant, with only 33 percent of applications selected by the EPA,” explained Dan Coxworth, Cochise County Development Services Director. “We are very excited about the opportunity to use these funds to assess properties that have the greatest potential for redevelopment and economic impact on our economy.”

Cochise County has contracted with Stantec, which has a staff of qualified environmental professionals, to help conduct assessments and coordinate efforts.

The coalition partners will begin meeting after October, and the public will be notified of participation opportunities, and how to nominate properties, later this year.

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