Candidate Responses to Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce 2012 Questionnaire
Q1. In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing the City Council in the next two years?
Julie, no idea what Chamber’s answer would be to this question
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Jerry Nabours - The budget. For example, the city has deferred street maintenance and equipment updates instead of
facing the realities of the financial situation. Now we have had to borrow (through bonding) to do some of the street
maintenance and buy police communication equipment. The budget priorities are not where they should be. Why was
$12 million spent at the auto mall instead of street maintenance? There are many examples of money wasted.
Al White – Budgeting for services with revenue uncertainty.
Finishing comprehensive water policy.
Advocating for reduced state financial impacts.
Support for local economic vitality including Tourism, the Arts, and collaborative Economic Development activities.
City Council Candidate Responses
Karla Brewster – 1. Economic development which involves attracting businesses and retaining businesses as this
creates jobs, thus helping the city’s budget through sales and taxes. The city needs to focus on diversifying the types of
businesses, which they are doing through NACET, TGEN and our other high tech businesses, such as W.L.Gore. We
need to plan and develop areas for infrastructure for light industrial needs, develop and implement workforce training
through certificates for our local businesses. Our collaboration with ECoNA is one of the best steps the city has done in
recruitment of businesses in our region with our partners. The city should be involved in recruiting and maintaining
businesses through legal rebates, and incentives. We are in competition with other communities for business whether we
want to be or not. Everyone wants clean, high paying jobs. We must put our best foot forward to make Flagstaff the best
possible area for businesses to locate and stay.
2. Infrastructure construction is badly needed for currently undeveloped areas in our area for the availability of new
businesses, designated by the Regional Plan. Some businesses and light industrial look elsewhere when the basic
infrastructure is lacking – water, sewer, data lines, and other high tech needs. This is a large money item that needs to be
addressed soon, and is important for us to continue to be diverse in our economy.
3. Water issues – longer term issues for both potable and reclaimed. As we (city) have a designated water resource
(potable) for 100 years that has been sent to Arizona Department of Water Resource that gives the city the ability to be a
managed area, meaning that before a final plat is approved by Council, the city will have to show that there is a 100 year
water supply for that development. Without being a managed area, any one that developed would not have knowledge if
there was an adequate water supply in their future. It also puts Flagstaff on par with other cities in the state as a
Designated water provider in how we manage our water supplies. In addition to incentivized conservation, the city needs
to make more use of reclaimed water to both residential, commercial, and retail businesses. That means more
infrastructure to allow more people to hook up to this system, which is a budget problem. The reclaimed resource is the
only source of water that continues to grow as we grow. The city needs to take a more proactive approach in the
education of reclaimed and what’s the difference in reclaimed levels of treatment. A+ is as good as it gets just below
drinking water standards. Most in the community still thinks it is dangerous and not to be touched.
Coral J. Evans - I feel that water adequacy is the most important issue that we as a City Council will face within the next
two years. As a City we are required by law to provide the State proof of a water source for the next 100 years in order to
continue to develop, grow and prosper as a community. As a council we are in the process of developing a
comprehensive water policy, key elements that I feel should be incorporated into such a policy include:
a) Figuring out the true amount of wet water that we actually have available;
b) Establishing parameters regarding the sale of water (potable and/or reclaimed) outside City Limits (example
should we as a City require incorporation prior to entering into a agreement to sell water to a user outside of city limits?
This way the City would be able to collect sales tax that we cannot collect otherwise, such monies could be utilized to
assist the over water collection and delivery system);
c) Developing a resilient rate model; the recent rate model approved by Council (one which I did not support) is not
sustainable as its rates (which the exception of the .25 cent emergency surcharge) based on water usage. This is very
problematic in that the more we encourage people to conserve water. The more we save water (WHICH IS A GOOD
THING) the less money is available to support the utility. The utility has fixed costs that we simply cannot absorb and
routine maintenance that must be completed in a timely manner.
d) A Capital Plan for Water Infrastructure (Replacement & New)
Example currently we have water pipes in the City that are 100+ years old, they need to be replaced and we do not
have the funds to that.
Another example during a recent water policy discussion we found out that approximately 11% of the City’s overall
water is unaccounted for (?) When I questioned this I found out that the majority of meters that the City is using to
determine residential and commercial water use are 25+ years old. Water meters have a life cycle of 10 years. It is
believed that the 11% of water that is unaccounted for has to do with the fact that we do not have accurate meters and
some people might be using a lot more water that is actually being recorded (more water than they are paying for). The
issue is that we do not have the monies to replace the older water meters.
Another example Red Gap Ranch was purchased as a solution to our long-term water needs. The cost to build the
Red Gap Ranch pipeline (to pump the water from Red Gap Ranch to Flagstaff) has been estimated to be at least $280M.
That is not including the right-a-ways and easements that have to be purchased, the cost of the energy to pump the water
and the staffing costs associated with the maintenance of a water pipeline. If Red Gap Ranch is truly going to be one of
our solutions to our City’s long-term water needs then we need to plan now how to fund that project. The
Red Gap Ranch is not a project that we can simply bond for.
Avtar Khalsa - 1. Development of a comprehensive long-term water plan. 2. Completion and approval by the voters of
the revised Regional Plan. 3. Supporting our unique small business community so that we can prosper together as friends
John Malin – 1. Water and the use, cost and effective methods to sustain and increase the available source and
reasonable prices to the City and residents.
2. Budget: the allocation of money into projects and services that provide for the most people, and the analysis of the
capital projects (bonds) that meet the demands of the City infrastructure and reduce the debit to the City with strategic
partnerships with the private sector.
3. Analyze the City real estate holdings and consolidate into a manageable size and realize the revenue from the sale
of unused properties.
Jim McCarthy - Improve our long term budget situation.
Plan our water future.
Write and get approval for the regional plan.
Jeff Oravits - There are many issues we face as a Community but I believe that two of the greatest challenges we face
are finding solutions to our economic and budgetary challenges.
For 2013 we are facing a 1.3 million dollar budget shortfall. Proposals to close this gap include reducing core services
such as street sweeping, plowing and funds to Parks & Recreation. As your Council Representative I will focus on finding
solutions to these challenges by using the same sound budgeting principals I’ve used over the years as a successful
business owner. I have illustrated many wasteful expenses on my website, Jeff4Flagstaff.com. If we were to spend our
tax dollars more wisely we would have the money needed to preserve these core services. Being more prudent with our
tax dollars will be one of my top priorities as your Council Representative.
As for our economic challenges we need to create a more friendly business environment here in Flagstaff. As a
business owner I understand firsthand the unintended consequences of City policy and how it can often put undue burden
on the businesses and residents of our community. Impact fees and other fees have added many tens of thousands of
dollars to the cost of doing business. High fees for signage discourage businesses to advertise their company or product.
Restaurants are burdened with high inspection fees that didn’t even exist a couple of years ago. These are just a couple
of examples of burdens businesses face. And now City Council is proposing mandated rain water harvesting, a property
maintenance ordinance and the adoption of the International Energy Code which will actually tell businesses how many
light bulbs they are allowed to use in their business and will conservatively add about $5,000 to the cost of every new
We need people to invest in our community and in order to facilitate that the City needs to become more business
friendly through streamlined processes, lower fees, less ordinances and less regulations. We also
need a sound budgetary process so that we have the money to provide the core services many businesses and residents
expect from their City Government.
Q2. The relative cost of living in Flagstaff is currently 13.3% higher than the national average. What
would you do to minimize this gap for local residents and businesses?
The Chamber’s position is that reduction of regulations would help lower the cost of living. As our highest
expense in Flagstaff is housing, lowering the cost related to developing housing would help.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - Business competition tends to lower the cost of living. The city needs to be receptive to new business instead
of trying to frustrate them (example-Walmart). The same is true regarding real estate. We have to stop putting
unreasonable hurdles in front of developers yet still require adequate protection for lot buyers (which was not done at
Presidio in the Pines).
White - Continue the Economic activities of the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the
Sustainable Economic Development Initiative, and the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona as well as the City of
Flagstaff's Economic Vitality division - all of which are working together to increase economic vitality in the region.
Competition in a marketplace brings prices down.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Much of the higher cost of living in Flagstaff is driven by variables that are not easily controlled such as the
limited private land, desirable quality of life, and the growth of the second home market due to the growth of Phoenix,
Las Vegas, and to some degree Southern CA. Obviously, the very high cost of housing is a major component of this
the cost of living difference. We can mitigate through collaboration of the major employers through private/public
partnerships to provide a certain level of work force and company housing that will provide affordability for the
workforce of Flagstaff without affecting the private marketplace. Much of this affordable housing will be in the County
areas surrounding Flagstaff where land is less expensive and development codes allow for greater flexibility on density
and design. An overlooked offset to the higher cost of living is the relatively low cost of entertainment and recreation
from living so close to the public lands and forests for hiking, fishing, skiing, etc. Also, with the University, Community
College, community theatre, symphony, downtown heritage square events, City recreation centers, and so many more
finding things to do is a relatively less expensive than lower cost of living areas such as Phoenix. Lastly, we need to
use our collaborative efforts in economic development to continue to create a higher wage base to close the gap.
Clearly the strategies of ECoNA partners is to do exactly that.
Evans - I believe that the best way we as a City can minimize the gap for local residents and businesses is to work to
create a more sustainable and vibrant economic environment here in the City of Flagstaff that works to not only
increase profits for businesses but grow the independent wealth of residents here in the city. It is imperative for us as a
City to continue to be diverse in our economic development efforts in order to address this issue. This includes
recruiting new business in targeted fields and assisting existing area businesses grow. Existing businesses are a
vital part (the foundation) of our local economy; additionally our community is growing and as such the City’s economic
structure must grow with it. Recruiting new businesses in targeted fields are very important in assisting to ensure the
City’s overall economic success on a long-term, sustainable-level. Additionally it is imperative that we, as a community,
continue to invest in job training programs and youth development programs that work to address these very basic
issues that area employers are facing and would allow residents the training necessary to access the higher paying
jobs. Expanding Workforce Development and related-Educational opportunities within the City is an important part of
ensuring the City’s success in the economic development arena. The City does not have to lead these efforts; however,
it is important that the City be at the table and be a willing partner in finding a solution. An example of “being at the
table” is the support that the City gave the Coconino County Career Center in its quest to secure its $1.5M Youthbuild
Grant (at that time the City gave the project a letter of support and the willingness to sit (if needed) on a oversight
committee). Another example of this would be the Workforce Training Center that SEDI is currently working on
establishing here (I sit on the SEDI sub-committee that is working on this initiative).
Khalsa - Given that Flagstaff is a much better place to live than the national average, we’re probably already getting a
bargain. I’m assuming there are reasons you choose to live in Flagstaff instead of Omaha or Lubbock.
Malin - Competition in all aspects of the City and business. Increased competition with new businesses, new industries
will create more realistic pricing to the residents, keep local business, often getting and using out-of-town business is
cheaper. This will keep business here, create and sustain jobs and with new businesses and industries – create new
Tourism should be strengthened to bring new money and jobs to Flagstaff.
McCarthy - Land prices are one of the main drivers for the high cost of living here. I have a master degree in land use
planning and thru that have learned that moderately higher densities will bring down housing and business
rental/ownership costs. They will also reduce one of the other cost drivers: transportation costs.
If we encourage new residential developments, that will drive the cost down because of supply and demand. We
need to make sure adequate areas are available for new business development, and that we encourage new uses for
unused land areas.
Oravits - While Flagstaff will most likely always be a little more expensive than many other Cities in the state due to the
limited amount of land, there are things we can do as a city to make it more affordable.
The City is one of the largest holders of vacant land. Starting to sell some of that land off would bring more land to
market and bring some much needed revenue to the City and ongoing revenue through property taxes.
Decrease impact and other fees that have made it more expensive to build in Flagstaff. It is estimated that 10% of
the cost of a construction project in Flagstaff is due to City fees. So on a $200,000 house that’s about $20,000 in fees
and other costs. Many wrongly believe that the impact fee is needed to “make the developer pay for growth”. What they
fail to recognize is that it is you and I and our kids that ultimately pay for those fees through a higher final price. So
instead of your house costing $200,000, it may now cost $220,000 since these costs are generally passed on to the
When people invest in our community they bring their money, tax dollars, skills and more to our community. Let’s
not discourage people from investing in our community through high fees and burdensome regulations, let’s encourage
them with an inviting business environment and a City with a sound budget and world class infrastructure.
Q3. Describe your understanding of the City’s current budget scenario. What are your
concerns? What are your priorities?
The Chamber’s position is that the City’s budget should focus on prioritizing utilities, public safety and streets;
that the City should carefully divest itself of some of its land holdings to raise funds and place those properties
back on the tax rolls; that underperforming facilities currently operated by the city should be privatized or sold
and that the city should build its budget up from zero each year instead of viewing the process strictly as
adding to or taking away from the current year’s budget, as starting from scratch would make certain cuts or
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - See the answer to #1 above. The priorities of the budget must be the basic reasons we have a city: public
safety, roads, utilities, parks and rec. The city has no business being in business and competing with local businesses.
White - The City budget scenario is one of flat to slowly increasing revenues for the next few years. I am concerned with
maintaining the expected service levels and would put that as a priority. I do believe the City has a role to play in
supporting the "recovery" by active participation in the agencies described in question 2. Support for our Tourism sector
is important since it supplies so much in sales tax revenues for basic services. We can grow that sector by emphasis on
Flagstaff's many features, arts, and events.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Having spent a day and a half recently in the Budget Retreat, I have some understanding of our budget. We
are at least flat, it not growing slightly in our revenues (sales tax), which is a positive sign. Knowing that doesn’t mean we
are ‘flush’ with money, but we need to take care of the ‘cracks in the hull’ which City Manager, Kevin Burke referred to –
those necessary items (like infrastructure repairs and maintenance) that are not seen and below the surface but can
certainly sink our ship. My priority would be to continue to be stable and plan for some infrastructure repairs and
maintenance on a scheduled basis. This means we may be looking at some minor cuts to do this, but putting this off
longer that it already has been is not a wise decision. The longer you wait on a leaking roof, the worse it becomes – same
with city infrastructure. So, that may mean only plowing when the snow is over 4 “ deep, as an example. Giving back part
of the pay cuts during the recession, would be a priority, if our revenue continues to grow at a slow rate. Losing quality
people to other places is an expensive proposition as it takes time, thus money to replace and train at the level of a
person who left. This would not be a raise, but some replacement (half possibly) of the prior cuts. My concerns are with
other council members slashing whole portions of our divisions which would hugely affect our services to the community
in those areas. One important aspect of our budget is that this week division leaders are making some very tough
decisions regarding cuts and our City Manager’s strengths are in budget and economic issues, which makes me have
some confidence that what we finalize will be the best we can do, considering the economy and our own unique situation.
Evans - I have had the opportunity to work on the creation of the City’s budget for the past four (4) years and I have a
very good understanding of the city’s budget, the budgeting process, and the different funding sources go into it. My
concerns include the City’s ability to continue to provide the diversity of services at are currently being provided at current
service levels given the dramatic decrease in funding that we have seen over the past four years.
One of my priorities and one of the ways that the City can attempt to continue to provide the same level of services it
has been providing even though revenues are flat (and are expected to remain that way for some time) is for the City to
continue to develop more public-private partnerships in the areas in which they make sense.
An example of this is the recent partnership between the City and the Boys-and-Girls Club. In this example the
City has outsourced the programming of the Cogdill Recreation Center to the Boys-and-Girls Club. Not only will services
continue Cogdill (and in fact be enhanced) but the City will save $767,000 over the next five years.
Another example is the RFP that we will be releasing shortly in which we are seeking a private entity who would be
interested in working in partnership with the City to build a new Court House and a parking garage in the Downtown area.
Another priority that I have would be the reestablishment of the Citizen Budget Advisory Taskforce. I was the
councilmember that was instrumental in the establishment of a Citizen Budget Advisory Taskforce which operated during
the 2011-2012 City Budget cycle. I believed the group to be beneficial and appreciated the perspectives that they shared
regarding items that they felt we as a City could improve on as it related to the City’s budget and budgeting process. Many
other City’s that are similar in size to Flagstaff and who are experiencing similar issues regarding the decrease in funding
and the demand for the same level of services have established Citizen Budget Advisory Taskforce to assist them in the
preparation of the annual budget. I feel that it is a good thing to have citizen active in and knowledgeable of our City’s
budget and budgeting process. I feel that it is unfortunate that the other six council members did not feel that same way
and voted to disband the Citizen Budget Advisory Taskforce. I intend to ask for its reestablishment.
Khalsa - The city has to make some hard decisions as it completes a budget for FY 2013. One challenge is to define
“essential services” (those that will be cut the least or not at all). There is not universal agreement on the council or
among the citizens as to which services are essential. At any rate, there will likely be a scaled-back schedule for plowing
residential streets, some cuts in hours and services at various city centers (with the Aquaplex perhaps closed one day per
week), and numerous streets going longer without necessary repairs. My concern is that certain elements might use the
current economic challenges as an excuse for radical changes in the city budget. My priorities are first responders and
the city’s ongoing partnerships with the private sector, the non-profit sector, and other governmental entities.
Malin - The budget is more than adequate to sustain a vibrant and growing City and economy. The careful, thoughtful and
business approach to the allocation of funds is critical. Politics and emotions aside, a business approach and short-term –
long-term plan will help in strengthening vital services and reducing, combining or eliminating programs and services that
the City should not in the business of providing. Look at privatizing some of the services.
Tourism is a key to new revenue and the affect it has on all other related businesses.
McCarthy - The budget is complex but I have spent some time recently studying it. I have attended all the recent (three
days of meetings) council budget meetings.
My priorities are the basics: police, fire, and infrastructure. Next are expected services such as the libraries, snow
removal, staff for necessary support (e.g., for approval of development plans).
The budget is much better than it was a couple of years ago. This gives us some breathing room. However, this is the
time to make long-term decisions so that we will be fiscally healthy over the foreseeable future. Much of our infrastructure
(e.g. the water supply piping) is in real need of upgrade and repair. Some infill projects are not possible because of
undersized pipes, not to mention the costly breakages.
Oravits - When the City Manager states that “we have cracks in the hull and if we don’t address these issues immediately
we will sink”, I think we should all be concerned. When S&P downgrades our economic outlook to negative, we should all
be concerned. Unfortunately though I do not see fundamental changes in the way we budget. We need to budget our tax
dollars more like a business. We need to place a priority on core services such as public safety, streets, utility and our
parks. And as your Council Representative that’s exactly what I plan to do.
I have illustrated the misuse of our tax dollars through overspending on my website, Jeff4Flagstaff.com. It is deplorable
that City hall is now looking for $135,000 in savings by cutting snow removal services yet they had no problem spending
$120,000 on new exercise equipment and City Hall had no problem spending over $21,000 on new smart phones for a
select few City Staff. The dollar value of these two purchases alone could fund snow removal services at current levels for
a year without the need for cuts.
Overspending is at the root of many of City Hall’s problems and has led to the borrowing of tens of millions for many
routine short term maintenance issues and has also led to the need for high impact fees and other fees. Get control of the
spending and many of our challenges can be solved. As a successful business owner I know how to budget and how to
organize organizations for optimal efficiency.
Q4. What specific actions would you take to bring more jobs to Flagstaff?
Not sure what to put here, Julie.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - Welcome new employers with a proper attitude at city hall. Show them how to accomplish what they need
instead of telling them why it won’t work. Give them a fair and specific timeline for their process of a new operation.
Don’t run them off with fees. Present a clean and efficient city to do business in and to live in.
White - I would continue to support the above mentioned efforts as I see them starting to produce jobs in the bio-science
and technology fields through expansion and start ups already. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative hopes to let a
contract this year with the US Forest Service that will mean hundreds of sustainable jobs while restoring forest health
and protecting the region from catastrophic wild fires. Re-investing in tourism promotion of Rt. 66 and events and
regional co-operation with neighboring communities will produce basic sector jobs. I am also dedicated to continue the
activity beginning to resurface at the Mall to keep Flagstaff as the regional hub for retail. I also see some success in
local food production in collaboration with regional ranches and some efforts to support local production of goods
needed by partners in the public and private sectors of Flagstaff.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Have our Economic Vitality section work closely with the ECoNA organization to bring a diverse group of jobs
to Flagstaff, hopefully, mostly high wage jobs. The city is a collaborative partner along with 8 other sectors. I am
involved with this organization as the City Council representative on their executive board and believe in their mission
statement. For those who want to invest in the community, start a business, or grow an existing business, the ECONA
mission in Northern Arizona, and Flagstaff, is that we will excel in job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship, global
business, quality workforce and have a stable and sustainable business friendly environment. All of us in Flagstaff,
including the council, need to be facilitators of business, not gate-keepers. Having a collaborative effort and focus
changes the mindset in a mutual and proactive way. In addition, highlighting our quality of life in Flagstaff is a major
player in business attraction with our trails, biking, transportation options, 4-season sports availability, Snowbowl, and
our educational opportunities with Coconino Community College and the easy transfer to Northern Arizona University
with research facilities. Our green emphasis is also a draw for many companies to locate in Flagstaff, along with our
NACET incubator nourishing entrepreneurship and new businesses, all which have that potential of creating new jobs.
Evans - As a member of the City Council for the past four-years jobs creation is something that I have been directly
working on. The results of these can be seen by the high wage jobs (100+) that have been created through the Northern
Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies (NACET).
I believe that specifically as a city we need to continue to expand and grow partnerships with entities such as NACET
along with the Arizona Science Foundation, Northern Arizona University and ECONA that are based on creating and
expanding the Nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative here in Flagstaff and the
Tourism is very important to this city! We need to get more people here for a longer period of time! Our City’s
economy is heavily dependent on tourism and as such I feel that we need to work with our partners (e.g. Flagstaff
Cultural Partners, etc.) to strengthen our Arts & Culture offerings and publication of such. Specifically for example I
support the implementation of an Arts Incubator and Arts District for our city. A recent study completed by Flagstaff
Cultural Partners (FCP) shows that tourist who visit our city for the purposes of attending an gallery showing, art exhibit
or a cultural event on average spend more time in our city and more money than any other kind of tourist. We need to
encourage these types of visitors by offering more Arts & Cultural events for them to experience.
Additionally as a City I believe that we can continue to work with our partners to strengthen our Business Retention
and Expansion efforts. While attracting another large employer (100+ employees) would be very beneficial I believe that
we be more successful in improving our local economic if we identified 20-30 small businesses that are currently here
and then help those businesses expand by 5 employees each in a way that would ensure long-term sustainability of the
new positions created.
Once of the ways that I have worked directly on this was through the creation of the three (3) year JOBS Initiative
(recently ended in 2011) that I developed (as a City Councilmember) in partnership with the Chamber, Purina, WL Gore &
Associates, United Way, the Coconino County Career Center, NAU and other partners. The purpose of the JOBS Initiative
was to provide a direct link between employers who had job openings and qualified job seeker who were looking for
employment. I wrote a $62,000 grant to the Governor’s Workforce Board which was funded (in full) to support the effort.
In general I believe that as a City, Flagstaff should be working on creating an economic environment that is not only
sustainable but resilient; it is vital that we support and enhance the elements of our economic which are working while at
the same time working to diversify our economy to ensure its resiliency long-term.
Khalsa - The City should partner with other organizations to nurture new/emerging business. It should also focus on
quality of life initiatives that make Flagstaff an attractive place to live and do business. Finally, the city must lead the way
articulating the reasons we love to live here, thus helping businesses see all the positive reasons to move their
operations to Flagstaff.
Malin - Work hard on the tourism industry of Flagstaff; hotels, restaurants, recreation and all the related service and
support businesses. Expoit the virtues of this great City and tell the story of how great we are, a place to visit and
Work with industries and NAU to bring students and jobs through a national recruitment effort. Look at scholarships,
internships and mentors to create the desire to come and stay in Flagstaff.
McCarthy - There is no silver bullet. What we need is sustained support for factors that bring new desirable jobs. For
instance, I support the work of NACET. We need to make sure that we have excellent schools, which is a real factor
when employees and companies evaluate communities. We need to assure that the approval procedures for building
new plants is reasonable and expedited. We need to make sure there is land available with the proper zoning. We need
to support existing employers so that they stay here and expand here.
Oravits - I believe in the free market system and I believe that City Hall should have a very limited role in economic
development. We often see inefficiency and loss of taxpayer money in many public private partnerships.
Let entrepreneurs do what they do best, create and run companies and employ people in our community. Make the
process to run a business as streamlined and low cost as possible. We’ll all prosper if we create an environment in which
businesses have the opportunity to prosper.
Q5. What is your opinion on how our community can achieve a more reasonable median home price?
The Chamber’s position is that a reduction in regulations and fees for new developments and the city’s selling
some of its land holdings would help lower home prices.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - Competition drives prices. When real estate is restricted and costly, prices go up. Also, the numerous city
fees and permit costs and buy-ins raise the price immediately. We also need to get more of the surrounding land into
private hands so there is land for development.
White - The new zoning code encourages an infill model that can accommodate more housing types on smaller lots and
sustainable building practices to reduce utility costs. While housing prices are driven by market factors, the zoning code
can help because it contains policy changes that will have significant implications for development projects in the
decades to come.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Much of the higher cost of living in Flagstaff is driven by variables that are not easily controlled such as the
limited private land, desirable quality of life, and the growth of the second home market due to the growth of Phoenix, Las
Vegas, and to some degree Southern CA. Obviously the very high cost of housing is a major component of this the cost of
living difference. We can help through collaboration of the major employers through private/public partnerships to provide
a certain level of work force and company housing that will provide affordability for the workforce of Flagstaff without
affecting the private marketplace. Much of this affordable housing will be in the County areas surrounding Flagstaff where
land is less expensive and development codes allow for greater flexibility on density and design.
Evans - Demand and supply is what typically dictates the price of a commodity; for those who are able the Flagstaff
housing marketing offers many different housing opportunities. The problem that we as a City is facing is that there is not
enough homes available in the low-to-moderate income range to met the City’s current demand; as such the Flagstaff
housing marketing proves to be impossible and out-of-reach for most first-time home-buyers and individuals with low to
The availability of not only workforce housing but housing for low-income individuals and families is a critical issue here
in Flagstaff. The issue of addressing affordability of housing here in Flagstaff must be a collaborative effort and must
include partners from the private, non-profit and government sectors. The City has taken proactive steps toward
addressing this issue (e.g. the establishment of a housing land trust) however such efforts to increase the land and homes
available within the need to be expedited if possible for example in other communities land is added to community land
trusts in a number of different ways; including donations from community members, bequests, and land exchanges. I
believe that all of these options should be examined as possible avenues of expanding our City’s current land trust.
Additionally I believe that the City should work directly with the local contractors (and others in
the building trades) in the development of any new programs, policies and/or regulations that will ultimately have an effect
on housing and the cost of housing. I believe that if such entities were at the table during the planning stages this would
assist the City early on in identifying the impact that any new programs, policies and/or regulations will have on the overall
idea of housing affordability.
Enhancing housing affordability in Flagstaff must be a collaborative effort and must include partners from the private,
non-profit and government sectors to truly work.
Khalsa - What do you mean by “more reasonable?” Do you mean lower? Do you want everybody to be even further
underwater than they already are because home values degrade even further? That would create more foreclosures,
which, in the short term, would lower prices across the board, I suppose. Of course, it also would degrade the quality of
numerous neighborhoods. I’m not sure that’s where you want to go. You might want to re-think this question.
Malin - Starting with the attitude and enthusiasm of the Mayor, Council and staff – we begin to create a sense and feeling
of pride in our City, the potential and the vision of the future and livability of Flagstaff and begin to turn the feeling “poverty
with a view” into an enthusiastic ambition to build the best City in the west.
McCarthy - There are several factors that determine the price of housing. One is just supply and demand. If we build
more housing, that will push the balance to affordability.
The other major factor in the price of land. Moderately higher densities will push the land cost down. I support mixed
use zoning where it will work (residential on second and third stories, commercial or retail on ground floor). Mixed use
zoning is not for everyone, but it works on a limited scale.
Oravits - See answer to question number 2
Q6. Does the community need a “Property Maintenance Ordinance?” If yes, why and what do you
want to see in the PMO? If no, why not?
The Chamber is currently weighing this item and has not taken a position.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - A P.M.O. is not necessary. Existing health and safety ordinances are adequate if they were properly clarified,
organized and enforced.
White - I am in favor of a PMO that codifies life safety provisions for removal of blight and inspires reinvestment. In early
ride-alongs with the police department I saw many examples of reduced crime in neighborhoods that had ongoing
cleanup efforts. Specific neighborhoods have asked for a property maintenance ordinance to aid in removing blight. As
always, the details of a PMO will determine ultimate support, but I am interested in seeing what comes forward.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - No. Most neighborhoods in Flagstaff have historically been well maintained or have CCR’s that accomplish
the same thing. Economic incentive to maintain property values is a much stronger tool and carrot than the stick of a
PMO. PMO’s are costly to administer, creates a structure for escalating fees and fines, and perpetuates another
government regulatory body that once created are difficult to eliminate adding to the already high cost of living for
Flagstaff. The current City regulations allow for complainants and concerned citizens to address a blighted property.
PMO’s tend to have an inordinate impact on lower income neighborhoods creating an additional burden on a segment
that already struggles to live in Flagstaff. It would be much less expensive to have non-profits who have the mission to
work with low income citizens include this type of consulting into their missions to assist citizens with property
maintenance issues, to help find resources and volunteers to help solve these issues. Also, these issues can become
complex in neighborhoods such as Sunnyside where businesses and residences have developed together. PMO’s in
other cities have been used by no-growth citizens to discourage entrepreneurial and business start-up.
Evans - I feel that it is important for me to let the Chamber know that I own rental property here in Flagstaff (I am a
landlord) and I have been a vocal supporter of a city-wide property maintenance ordinance (PMO) for several years now, I
have been a supporter of a PMO since before I became a councilmember.
I feel that a PMO will address not only basic quality of life and safety issues but also increase reinvestment and
property values in Flagstaff’s older neighborhoods.
There are a lot of misconceptions in the local community regarding a PMO. The idea for a PMO did not come from the
government/city hall/some politician nor is it about some group trying to control the masses. The intent is not to place undue
burdens or regulations on people but to simply 1) streamline the current process and better address issues that there is currently
policy for [take all of the policies and regulations that currently exists in six different City Departments and put them into one
document] and 2) to establish policy to address items that are not currently covered (i.e. por-ta-potties, graffiti removal, etc.).
Again I feel that the Chamber should know that a major part of the implementation of a PMO would be to streamline
the current process (making things simpler for landlord and property management companies, i.e. business!).
We already have property maintenance codes/policies/rules in place here in the City the major issue is that these
ordinances and policies are spread out over six different city departments. Because of this (the six different departments)
they are hard to enforce as many of the ordinances/codes contradict each other and in some cases make no sense (e.g.
one department handles junk cars up to 2, another handles more than 2, one handles litter but not appliances, one
handles paint but not oil, etc.)
By streamlining the process we eliminate duplication and save taxpayers (business) time and money and eliminate
unneeded government contact (i.e. instead of six different City departments being involved in a complaint and doing a
separate investigation you are down to one department, one person to work with.
The overall intent is not to place undue burdens or regulations on people but to clarify the process so that the problem
can be resolved.
It appears that some people have a problem with the consolidation of these ordinances and the streamlining of
processes that are already in six different sections of code and some have even suggested “why don’t we just start
enforcing what is already there”. I would suggest that we (the format that the City is currently doing) first review the codes
that are currently on the books to ensure that 1) they are still relevant – many were written over 40 years ago and might
not make sense or work in 2012, 2) that we have the means to enforce them (in some cases the reason that they are not
being enforced is because we are lacking the ability to enforce them somehow, 3) develop the ordinances that we
currently do not have (e.g. graffiti removal and por-ta-potties, etc. and 4) have the community conversation about what to
expect once enforcement starts.
I think that is a reasonable process and one that is very similar to another major one that the City just completed (the
Khalsa - Much of what has been proposed for a PMO is already covered by existing ordinances. If Council is going to
proceed with a PMO, it should direct staff to identify those ordinances and list them in a single document. At that point,
gaps can be identified and discussed. If additional rules are deemed necessary, give the public the opportunity for
comment. Once there is agreement, codify what is necessary in a single ordinance. The real challenge is enforcement,
both in terms of staffing, and because property maintenance tends to involve environmental and safety factors as well as
esthetics. Currently, these have different enforcement/remediation procedures. All this needs to be resolved prior to
creation of a properly functioning PMO. I will be resistant to any attempt to push a PMO through City Council that does
not take all these things into account.
Malin - No. Enforce the regulations that are already in place. Create an environment that “the City will work with you” to
help repair and restore your property and neighborhood. NOT “these are the rules, do what we say”. The City should be a
partner in all the neighborhoods.
McCarthy - I do support a PMO, but it will have to be very reasonable. If we cannot write a limited PMO, I would vote NO
rather than having a too-burdensome ordinance.
I weigh two factors. First, I have seen areas where one homeowner degrades the whole neighborhood by
inappropriately using their land (e.g., junk in the front yard). This is an equity issue; one homeowner should not be
allowed to degrade the whole area.
On the other hand, I don’t want the city to become big-brother and harass homeowners. Another concern is that if we
get a PMO, we will have to enforce it. Even now, we have essentially no staff to enforce code violations. If a PMO is
enacted, we would have to divert funding from other sources to fund PMO enforcement.
Oravits - We need to be real careful in adopting a PMO. I believe that this has the potential for many unintended
consequences and that this ordinance will simply put up another road block to the citizens and businesses that live here.
About 80% of the proposed items in a PMO are already covered through current ordinances. Let’s enforce the laws on
the books first before enacting more ordinances on top of old ordinances that aren’t being enforced.
Q7. What do you think of the current stormwater fee schedule and how do you see this impacting
The Chamber has opposed stormwater fee increases, believing it to be an impediment to current businesses
and the attraction of new businesses.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - The stormwater fee is inequitably imposed and is a turn-off to businesses thinking about locating here.
White - Stormwater fees have been kept to a minimum to provide for the utility to manage flooding and begin the process
of infrastructure capital savings. As an unfunded federal mandate I think that Flagstaff has been conscientious of the
impacts to businesses by including a credit program for best management practices. I have some concerns about one
inch retention's impact on subdivision expense, and remain open to examine alternatives that will help businesses and
Flagstaff residents insure that storm water cleanliness and management gets done efficiently for the downstream impacts
on the aquifer.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - The current stormwater program is a result of an unfunded mandate (the National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System) and from that, the city created a funding mechanism to deal with the management of this program.
Due to urban development, natural hydrology of stormwater systems have been dramatically altered by man-made
facilities. To provide construction, maintenance, protection, use and regulation of stormwater systems, the revenues
generated by a schedule based upon impervious surfaces are specifically dedicated to the management of this program.
The program and fees are for the public health, protection and enhancement of the city’s water resources. The rate
structure seems reasonable as it is based upon the square feet of impervious surfaces that includes rooftops, driveways,
sidewalks and others as described in the ordinance and manual. In addition, there are ways to have credits against your
assigned costs. Everyone pays a fee depending on their square footage of impervious areas. Conservation measures are
considered as credits, depending on what they are. Since this is a federally mandated program, I would think other
communities also have fees similar to ours. If it impacts businesses here, it would also impact that business somewhere
Evans - Over the past year I have had the opportunity to speak with several businesses regarding the Stormwater Utility
and have facilitated several meetings with City staff on the issue to answer questions regarding the Utility (e.g. where are
the monies spent that are collected, percentage of administrative billed to the Utility, etc.). I think that all fees, whether
those fees are passed on to the business’s customer or internalized by the business, directly impact business. The main
question that I have regarding the Utility would be whether or not we can utilize community stormwater containment
systems to eliminate direct costs to individual businesses of having to establish separate systems and continue need to
pay ongoing fees. I look forward to hearing what the Chamber’s perspective on this issue is.
Khalsa - No opinion.
Malin - Over regulation and fees are stalling any growth. It is being proven nationwide through government intervention,
regulations and fees, banks and financial requirements and taxes that this is discouraging to existing businesses to
expand and new businesses to relocate or for someone to experience the “entrepreneurial dream”.
McCarthy - I have studied the drinking water and reclaimed water fee structures, but have not studied the stormwater fee
schedule in the same detail. My general philosophy is that costs should be shared equitably. If stormwaters require
infrastructure construction, the costs should be allocated in proportion to the runoff from a given facility. The city should
not subsidize a given business by providing infrastructure with the cost paid by unrelated landowners. On the other hand,
the city should not make a profit on fees.
Oravits - This can be very burdensome especially to commercial property owners and businesses. Add to this the
Mandatory Rain Water Harvesting ordinance and you have another example of the challenges businesses face here in
Flagstaff. Perhaps if we were better stewards of the tax payers funds we wouldn’t need such high fees. Get control of the
spending and you may be able to reduce or even eliminate many of these fees.
Q8. Do you support or oppose the efforts to secure federal funding for the completion of the Rio de
Flag flood control project? Why?
The Chamber supports efforts to complete the Rio de Flag flood control project.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - The Rio de Flag project needs to be finished ASAP. For whatever reason, the city has alienated the people
with the purse strings. That can be rectified with new city representation.
White - I support the efforts to complete the Rio project and would love to see this project finished. The economic
impacts of a severe flood are horrific in terms of damage to downtown and Northern Arizona University. The flood plain
designation prevents re-investment on the part of property owners. It remains as Flagstaff's top priority in our Federal
lobbying efforts and the true tragedy here is cost increases incumbent in delay after delay in full funding at the Federal
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Yes, I do support federal funding for the Rio de Flag project. The problem lies in how to get it during the
federal budget cuts and reapportions of their fund priorities. Although we did get a minimal amount for this current year
(2012) which was unexpected, it won’t go far. The Army Corp has already done the designs and basically, we need the
funding to complete this enormous project. Without federal funding, it will fall to us locally, which means either bonding or
another source of funding (such as raising taxes, which would be my last choice due to the amount needed). If we can get
into the President’s budget, which we had not been, we have a very good chance to continue this project – it is a priority
for our redevelopment of Southside and some of downtown – critical for economic development to us as a whole. Meeting
some of these decision makers in person is a good approach, rather than a phone call or an e-mail. Our federal lobbyist
is a valuable resource in this effort.
Evans - I support the City’s efforts to secure federal funding for the completion of the Rio de Flag Flood Control Project
and as a member of the City Council I have advocated for its completion before numerous individuals, committees and
agencies (including our Federal and State representatives and the Army Corps of Engineers). The completion of this
project truly is crucial to the overall success of this City; it is not a “neighborhood” project. The economic impact to the City
upon completion of this project is projected to be over $800MM! This includes increases in property values (which
equates to increases in property taxes) and will also allow business owners in the affected areas access to capital for
business improvements which is currently denied to them. Investment in business, especially businesses that are related
to tourism means increases in jobs, increases in sales tax and increases in BBB taxes (which again work to support
activities and programs throughout the entire city). Last summer I had the opportunity to film a small documentary
regarding the Rio de Flag Flood Control Project and the legacy that this 40+ year old project has left on the Southside
neighborhood (the neighborhood most affected by this issue), there is a social/human justice component to the
completion of this project that I believe most people are not aware of, the documentary is four (4) minutes long, I would
encourage all members of the Chamber to review it. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrHdP0vEU5g.
Khalsa - I absolutely support it. Three generations of Flagstaff residents (especially those on the South Side) have
waited too long already for this. The inability of some of those residents to get flood insurance or refinance their homes
creates significant economic hardship. Let’s get it done!
Malin - Yes. This is a project that has immediate and future benefit to the entire City. Solving big problems with outside
help is needed.
McCarthy - I absolutely support the effort to get continued funding from the federal government, thru the Corps of
Engineers. The potential for Southside flooding is very real.
Oravits - I support the completion of the Rio De Flag flood control project and believe that it is an important component to
further revitalizing the South Side.
Q9. Explain your knowledge of Red Gap Ranch and the idea that the City might someday use that
property for water supply.
Julie, I don’t think we’ve voted on this…
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - Red Gap Ranch is only an emergency source of water since it is so highly expensive to get the water treated
and into town. It may be useful as a bargaining chip in a future trade for something more feasible.
White - Red Gap ranch was purchased as part of a bond issue to ensure a future water supply for the City of Flagstaff.
Ownership of the ranch has been a vital part of Flagstaff's ability to be part of discussions in a variety of settlement
agreements of regional water right issues. While securing rights to additional acre feet of water for Flagstaff's future
needs, Red Gap is far from being an actual source of water at this time. Right of way acquisition, pipeline costs, well
development and recharge options all remain to be actualized prior to use as a water source. How to pay for this option
is a decision that the Flagstaff community will need to agree on. I am not convinced that the actual cost is even known
at the present although we continue to focus on the elements of developing this water supply.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Previous to me being elected, some visionary council members realized that in the future, Flagstaff might
need another water source and purchased Red Gap Ranch in 2005 through a bond approved in 2004 for development of
the property, wells and water rights. Since then, a lawsuit by the Navajo and negotiations led to an agreement of 8,000
acre feet in certain areas with the right of way available across Navajo land for a pipeline. There are other options as to
the pipeline path. The city of Flagstaff needs this source for our future water needs to supplement our present sources.
Even with more conservation efforts, having Red Gap as a viable water resource is important. The biggest issue is the
pipeline cost to transport this valuable resource to Flagstaff. The city currently has drilled 6 wells in various locations of
the ranch. If, in the future, there was not a need for this water source, the property would be a valuable asset if it were
sold (an option). I don’t believe this is a visionary solution as there will be a need for this water source. Funding the
pipeline after all environmental studies have been done will be a challenge. Red Gap is an asset and I feel we will need it
in our future water portfolio. It is included in our 100 year designated water supply.
Evans - As a member of the Flagstaff City Council I have been directly involved with legal negotiation for the past four
years regarding Red Gap Ranch. I can say that I am very knowledge about Red Gap and have hands-on, in-depth
knowledge of the project. As we are still negotiating certain details I will say briefly that Red Gap Ranch was purchased as
a solution to our long-term water needs. The cost to build the Red Gap Ranch pipeline (to pump the water from Red Gap
Ranch to Flagstaff) has been estimated to be at least $280M. That is not including the right-a-ways and easements that
have to be purchased, the cost of the energy to pump the water and the staffing costs associated with the maintenance of
a water pipeline. If Red Gap Ranch is truly going to be one of our solutions to our City’s long-term water needs then we
need to plan now how to fund that project. The Red Gap Ranch is not a project that we can simply bond for.
Khalsa - The $7.9 million price tag for the land is insignificant compared with the estimated $140 million cost (in today’s
dollars) of laying the pipeline and building the pumping stations. Unfortunately, no one at the city seems to have a clear
idea of where the city would get that $140 million.
Malin - I believe that action needed to be taken for the future 100 year supply. Other cities have taken this step and will,
over-time, realize the long-term benefit. I believe that Flagstaff did not thoroughly analyze the purchase and subsequent
costs and problems – these can and will be dealt with by a reasonable business approach.
McCarthy - The city bought Red Gap Ranch and has drilled wells there to establish our legal right to the water. This was
a good insurance policy against the future needs for water. My concern is that the cost to build the infrastructure and to
pump the water will drive the cost of water considerably higher.
Oravits - As a former member of the Storm Water Advisory Committee and current Vice Chair of the Flagstaff Water
Commission I have been involved in Flagstaff water issues and the Red Gap Ranch. The settlement of the water rights to
Red Gap was a huge success for Flagstaff and ensures our long term water supply. While we may not need this water for
thirty or so years, we will need it eventually. There are challenges to getting the water to Flagstaff but fortunately we have
some time to figure out the logistics of building a pipeline. We need to start working on this challenge sooner rather than
later but I believe we’re heading in the right direction.
Q10. What is your opinion of the BBB tax? The allocations? Should the tax be raised, lowered, stay
the same? Should the allocations change? Who should get more? Less?
Julie, I don’t think we’ve voted on this.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - The BBB tax is currently being abused by its use for expenses that should be paid out of the general fund (e.g.
street sweeping, fencing) It should stay the same amount but needs to be investigated and properly used.
White - I support the BBB tax as it has been renewed by the voters. I would not support changes without a thorough
vetting process and we have plenty of time for that should enough interest surface. I think a healthier approach is the
promotion of a vibrant Tourism industry. That effort will increase revenues to all the shareholder interests. Those
allocations were all intended to increase the vitality of the contributing parties making Flagstaff more appealing to visitors
and residents alike.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Currently, the BBB tax is 2% in addition to our sales tax of 1.721%. This 2% is collected from food and drink
purchases and overnight stay at hotels, motels. It generates approximately $5.4 mil in revenue that goes to 5 different
areas – recreation fund – 33%; tourism fund – 30%; beautification fund – 20%; economic fund – 9.5%; arts/science fund –
7.5%. I would guess that our 2% is much lower than other communities charge as a bed tax, state and city taxes.
Although, I am not if favor of raising above the 2%, if it were presented in context of other taxes in different communities, I
would be open to discuss it. Our tourism has kept us afloat during some down times, and I don’t want to destroy that great
source of revenue. For the different breakdown of this tax toward the 5 areas they help support, I again, would want to
listen to rational as to making it different that what it is currently before saying one needs a change to a greater amount
while others didn’t get an increase. In some cases of support for these areas, if the BBB tax didn’t help fund, the citizens
would be paying out of pocket that would not be affordable for most, such as for recreation.
Evans - In general I support the current level of the BBB tax and individual allocations to the different funds, however, I do
not support necessarily support how the monies are allocated to different projects within the different funds. I feel that we
need to stop and take a look at what we are spending monies for, especially within the BBB Parks & Recreation allocation
as the majority of the monies collected are being spent on maintenance of parks. I feel that this is a problem as we need
to be aware that as we continue to add fields, parks and foot trails to our community utilizing these funds, we are also
having to maintain them with the same funds. At some point we will no longer have funds to build more we will simply be
utilizing the funds to maintain what we have created. As a community we need to be made aware of this. I think that this is
especially a problem in the BBB Parks & Recreation allocation because it is for Park AND Recreation. If we are using the
majority (or in the future all) of the money to maintain parks and fields we will not have monies to assist with recreation
(i.e. the funding of recreation facilities, staffing needed for recreation facilities, new equipment for recreation facilities,
etc.). I think that this is a problem that needs to be address and perhaps there needs to be a split created within this fund
to ensure that there are BBB monies truly allocated for Recreation.
Khalsa - I see no reason to change the BBB tax at this time.
Malin - I support the BBB tax. The comprehensive group; primarily made up of the people that collect the tax – tourism
and related businesses should determine the allocations. Tourism advertising, CVB and Chamber are key to getting the
message out. Create the vision and then go sell it.
McCarthy - I support the BBB tax at the current levels and allocations. To raise it would push our sales tax rate to an
unreasonable level. Remember that we Flagstaff residents pay the tax too, especially for restaurant food. If we want more
business, keeping our hotel costs as low as possible is important.
At the current levels, it provides valuable community resources for the betterment of the community and to stimulate
Oravits - While the BBB funds have a benefit they can also have the unintended consequence of making the cost of living
higher in Flagstaff. It now costs over 11% in tax when you eat out. While I think a lot of good has come from the BBB tax
and its use in beautification and other areas we need to find balance in how high our taxes are. Since this is a voter
approved tax it will be my job as your council representative to make sure the money is spent as wisely as possible.
Q11. What do you feel is a good way to strengthen our business climate in Flagstaff?
The Chamber believes that a reduction of regulations and fees and a streamlining of bureaucratic procedures
will help strengthen our business climate.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - Change the attitude at city hall in regard to new businesses and existing. The city should be an ally not an
adversary. The city should lead the charge in developing city pride in how the city looks and buying locally. The city
should practice what it preaches in using local businesses and professionals.
White - I think we are on the right track with all of my previous answers. Additionally, we can work to provide for the
local manufacture of goods and services needed by us and our companion cities along Route 40, Sedona and Grand
Canyon to begin a focus on reducing imports and increasing exports. Exports bring revenues and jobs to a
community. The new zoning code encourages light industrial for just this reason. I am proud of the steps the City,
with its partners, has taken to build economic prosperity while keeping an eye on what makes us such an attractive
and unique place to live and do business. It is the key to attracting innovators and entrepreneurs.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - The city has taken an important step in the redesign of the zoning code with the end result being more
‘friendly’ toward developers, builders, and citizens who want to remodel or build. There are more options to the code,
thus giving choices that were not in the older codes. There are also incentives offered for trade-offs in other areas, such
as less resource requirements for using native plants, or drought tolerant ones. Expedient processing of permits with
one person starting with the customer through to the end is a tremendous help in customer service. A stronger
formation of the Downtown Business Alliance and inclusion of the management of the 4 Street corridor along with the
downtown would help business focus and local decisions. We need to continue our wonderful relationship with our
largest employer, NAU, with the One Community concept, bringing business leaders together with academics. In
collaboration with the ECoNA organization, we need to capitalize on the very strong focus of job creation and increasing
wealth and prosperity, as it leads to decisions by all sectors – private, public, and non-profit – that creates the
environment that improves the business climate and lets the world know we are serious about improving our economy
and business. One of the most important “ingredients” of our future success as a community and region is collaboration
and leveraging of private and public sector resources. This collaboration in the ECoNA model is evident in the
unprecedented partnerships between private sector interests, state and local elected officials, community and business
leaders, as well as organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, NABA, Arizona Commerce Authority, Coconino
County, City of Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University, Science Foundation Arizona, Northern Arizona Center for
Entrepreneurship and Technology, Flagstaff Medical Center, Arizona Public Service, Nestle Purina, Coconino
Community College, Downtown Business Alliance, Flagstaff 40, SEDI, and countless other entities that work together for
the advancement of Northern Arizona.
Evans - As a member of the City Council for the past four years I believe we as a City are truly working to be a good
partner with business and are actively seeking ways in which we can strengthen the climate for business here in the
City. Examples of this include the “value added” amendment that we passed last year that allows extra points during the
request-for-qualifications process that was specifically created with local business in mind. Another example of this
would be the City’s dedication to getting and retaining a second airline, as a City we recently applied for and received an
$800,000 grant from the US Department of Transportation to help us accomplish this goal. Members of the local
business community have often stated that they need access to a second airline for their direct business needs as well
as to bring them new clients/tourists. Another example of this would be the recent Dew-Downtown event that just took
place in February. Again, here is an example of the City working to bring people here to our City with the idea that those
individuals will utilize and access the hotels, restaurants and retail stores that are available here. As a City we have
simplified the Land Development Code to make it easier for business to use, restructured our building department to
make it more accessible to business, created various incentives for businesses (includes the sale tax rebate for cars and
the building permit rebate for outstanding projects on hold), we invested $1.2M on the San Francisco and Beaver Street
redevelopment/street improvement project and approximately another $300,000 in the public-private partnership that is
working on the creation of two-special improvement districts for the 4th Street and Downtown Business Corridors (a
public private partnership that includes the City of Flagstaff, Coconino County, the Downtown Business Alliance, the
Southside Community Association and the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association), as a City we have continued to invest
in agencies like NACET, SEDI, ECONA all with the purpose of creating and strengthening our Cities business climate.
We have chosen as a council not to implement regulations that could prove burdensome to business (e.g. a use tax,
etc.). I would be interested in working with the Chamber to identify for implementation other suggestions for how we as a
City can continue to show our commitment to strengthening the business climate here in the City of Flagstaff.
Khalsa - I would like to see Flagstaff become a destination, in and of itself, not just an adjunct to the Grand Canyon
(Sedona has managed to do this very well, by the way). Here’s just one example: Several towns in the West promote
themselves as Mountain Biking destinations. Yet (according to numerous national and world class riders) Flagstaff is
the best place in the US to ride, based on miles of trails and roads, variety of terrain, beauty, weather, and great people
to ride with. But we don’t promote Flagstaff as a Mountain Biking destination.
My vision is that when anyone anywhere tells there friend they’re going to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, their
friend should say, “Oh, that’s a great idea. And you must be sure to visit Flagstaff. In fact, plan your trip so you’re in
Flagstaff for First Friday Art Walk. And you have to go to the Lowell Observatory and the Museum of Northern Arizona.
And you simply have to eat at [insert the name of your favorite Flagstaff Restaurant here].”
Malin - Reduce the regulations and fees of government. Create a culture that the City is here to help and assist, in every
way, to promote, build, maintain and establish new business.
Competition strengthens business.
McCarthy - Keeping taxes as low as possible is good for business. Limiting regulations, while protecting our community
character, is important.
Oravits - As I’ve mentioned in most of these questions Flagstaff needs to become more business friendly and we can
do this by making it as streamlined as possible to start and run a business here. Zoning issues need to be addressed as
fast as possible. Fees, especially impact fees need to be reduced as much as possible. Restrictive ordinances such as
the PMO and Rain Water Harvesting need not be adopted. Low Impact Development needs to be repealed. We need to
streamline the building process especially for minor non-structural repairs and remodels. For example, it should not cost
a business thousands of dollars in fees and months of planning to remove a simple non load bearing wall.
There is so much we can do to make Flagstaff attractive to new business and easier for existing businesses to
operate in. I believe that my business experience, I have founded 8 companies based in Flagstaff, will be an asset to our
City and that I will be able to point out the unintended consequences of existing and future policies.
Q12. Do you support or oppose the City selling reclaimed water to the Arizona Snowbowl? Why?
The Chamber has always supported snowmaking at Snowbowl as a way of creating a predictable season for a
vital economic interest in our community that provides more than 400 jobs.
Mayoral Candidate Responses
Nabours - I am totally in favor of selling reclaimed water to the Snowbowl.
White - I voted in 2002 to sell reclaimed water to Snowbowl as an environmentally sound alternative to potable water for
snowmaking. I favor making reclaimed water as safe as drinking water since we put so much of it back in the aquifer. If
the voters will approve the technology and expense to do so, we should. Since reclaimed water is a water source that
grows as we do, and we have no scarcity in the winter months, I am fine with selling to Snowbowl as our contract allows.
City Council Candidate Responses
Brewster - Absolutely, yes. Why would we curtail a business that is trying to improve their bottom line to become more
sustainable and viable for more months of the year? This is necessary for them to stay in business as the up and down
years of snow make is impossible to acquire loans for needed upgrades of infrastructure. Every ski resort in the West
uses snow making and they don’t care where their water comes from, nor do they test it. The only water better than A+
reclaimed is drinking water. And what we wouldn’t sell to the Snowbowl is put into the aquifer where it is filtered naturally
though many layers of rock and sand to mix with the natural water for our drinking water sources. It is a fraction or our
source of reclaimed (9% of all reclaimed) that would go to Snowbowl and in an off-season for reclaimed use. Our winter
economy would suffer without this business during years of snow. Allowing snow making would increase the months of
operation, helping them as a business and us as a community and region through tourism and dollars.
Evans - The Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce is an agency that supports (mostly) small businesses here in town. A lot of
these small businesses, in some fashion, depend on the support of our large Native American population that migrates in
and out of our City from neighboring jurisdictions (this is especially true of the tourist industry as people come from all over
the world to see and experience our Native American culture) a population that has express concerns about this issue.
As the Chamber of Flagstaff is aware this I am very puzzled by the fact that the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce would
ask this question especially because it is irrelevant at this point (the City Council in 2010 voted to uphold the contract to
sell reclaimed water to the Snowbowl, the Supreme Court denied the idea of sacred areas on Federal Land, and the
Snowbowl began construction of its pipeline in the Summer 2011).
As someone who has owned a small business in the past, as a director of a local nonprofit, as a community
builder/activist I feel the need to ask why the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce chose to continue to participate in a
discussion that has proven to be very divisive in our community instead of working with the small businesses here in town
(that the Chamber supports) to develop a targeted marketing campaign that welcomes the Native American community to
come to our city, display their craftsmanship at our local venues and spend their money here?
It shows at the very least a basic lack of cultural sensitivity (the issue is over, it has been decided, we need to figure
out how to move forward as a community and as a leading agency in the community the Chamber of Flagstaff should
want to help with this) and basic common sense (our City depends heavily on tourism, that tourism is largely based
people seeing and experiencing our Native American culture and buying the art that they produce).
One example that the Chamber could look into that would not only show our Native American neighbors that we value
them but prove beneficial to the small businesses here in this town would be the reestablishment of the Annual PowWow
Celebration. I remember going to the PowWow as a child and there are several business owners here in this town who
can talk to the different that the PowWow made to their bottom-line.
Something else that the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce might consider doing is an economic impact study of
regarding our Native American population (for example what the sale of their arts and crafts here in the City equate to in
terms of dollars for our City? What is the financial impact made by tourist here come here to experience their culture, buy
Native American art, or attend showing of such art at the local museum and galleries? Additionally what is the impact of
the monies that Native Americans spend here in town (for example what is the direct financial impact to our City’s
economic as a result of Native Americans coming in from the different reservations that boarder Flagstaff to purchase
clothes, gas, food, movie tickets, stay overnight in our hotel rooms, dine out at our restaurants, etc.? This might be
something that the Chamber of Flagstaff could partner with other Chambers in our Northern Arizona region to do.
Khalsa - Oppose. It was a bad idea then. It’s a bad idea now. It remains a divisive issue and is culturally offensive to
many of our citizens and neighbors. It also hastens the depletion of our water table. Much of that fake snow will be lost to
the atmosphere through sublimation, instead of recharging our aquifer. As a community, we would be foolish to just throw
away our water like that. Over the long term, it’s economic suicide.
Malin - Yes. This is a City that has year-round enjoyment, activities and business. The City should look at other like-cites
and create our own “four season” approach and activities – snow and the winter sports are vital to all businesses in town.
McCarthy - We have a contract and will honor the contract. If I had been on council when the decision was made, I
would have voted NO.
Reason: Our water is way too valuable to spend on recreation. We need it to recharge our groundwater. Any other
position is based on short term goals and the expense of long term goals.
When we first started selling reclaimed water, it was considered waste, like liquid trash. We are now learning that
reclaimed water is nearly as valuable as fresh water. As the city water staff has said: Water is water is water.
The city has paid for lawn removals and low flow toilets. If we push conservation to this level, we should conserve all
the water. Again, we need the reclaimed water to recharge the aquifer and for other legitimate uses in the city.
Oravits - The City as a Water Vendor has an agreement to sell reclaimed water to Snowbowl and needs to honor that
agreement. I believe Snowbowl is important to many in our community and the long term success of this business is
important to Flagstaff and the region. I support Snowbowl and will continue to do so.