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Feisty City Council Gathering

January 15
15:03 2015

Tensions were high and tempers flared Wednesday night (January 14th), at the Page City Council meeting.

The tone of the meeting started off innocently enough, with a financial report for fiscal year 2014 by Hinton Burdick, and presentations by the Arizona Trail Association and Coconino Community College.

Arizona Trail Association Gateway Community Liaison, Sirena Dufault, gave a vibrant presentation about the Arizona Trail’s importance and history, and discussed why Page is an important “gateway community” for the trail.

“A lot of people will be ending their journeys here or basing out of here to start their journeys,” said Dufault.
Dufault, referring to the length of the trail, seemed to contradict herself, saying it was “750 miles” long when she had originally said “800 miles”.

Looking at the map Dufault provided, Councilor Levi Tappan immediately questioned the inconsistency in length, as that meant bikers on the trail don’t start their hike here in Page.

Dufault replied, “They actually start at Parker Canyon Lake and then go from there all the way to the state line trail head.”

Vice Mayor John Kocjan then asked Dufault how Page fits into the trail since it isn’t anywhere near it.

According to Dufault, the trail ends in the middle of nowhere, which leaves hikers with 2 options for places to go to. Those two options are Page and Kanab. Dufault said she was more inclined to promote the city of Page.

Currently the city of Page is in the Gateway Community Program for the Arizona Trail Association, so there is no cost to it.

Dufault finished her presentation in stating she would like to continue to work with Page and form a closer relationship with the city.

After the presentation on the Arizona Trail Association, Jim Hunter from Coconino Community College also gave a presentation on the fiscal state of the college, as well as some improvements that had been made.

Hunter’s presentation was very brief, outlining only a few points such as the deficit and impact on the economy and only mentioned a new 5-year strategic plan for it, but didn’t elaborate further.

Hunter claimed the impact on the economy to be a solid $167 million.

According to Hunter, Coconino Community College is also in talks with the town of Kaibeto to bring ITV to them.

ITV is a kind of video conference between an instructor and their students.

Hunter stated the college’s delivery systems had been improved with better sound and picture for ITV.

After his brief presentation, the Council moved on to discuss matters with the Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber, asking City Council to give them $7,500 for the Tourism and Promotion Fund, received an immediate objection from Councilor Scott Sadler, as the Chamber had already been given $7,500 in the previous year, which would put them at $15,000 borrowed from Council for fiscal year 2015.

Councilor Sadler’s main reason for opposing the agreement was that the Chamber had failed to provide a financial report, corporate bylaws, last year’s financials, a 501 letter, and IRS statuses, when it had agreed to do so.

Mayor Bill Diak stated, “I don’t think that’s necessary before we enter into agreement, it’s irrelevant if we don’t.”
Councilor Sadler backed his decision and strongly disagreed with Mayor Diak.

Sadler said he believed it was relevant to get their financials and what they were doing with it.

Scott Seyler from the Chamber of Commerce confronted Sadler on the issue, asking “What is the mechanism in place that will check we are following the bylaws?”

Councilor Sadler seemed to dodge the question after being asked many different times, and kept demanding the Chamber provided all that was agreed upon before entering into agreement with them.

After much arguing back and forth between Sadler and Seyler, Councilor Michael Bryan finally answered Seyler’s question and stated there was no management structure in place to check the Chamber’s fiscal responsibility, council just wanted the paperwork for documentation purposes.

Councilor Dennis Warner defended the Chamber’s position calling it a “staple” in the community, and claimed it’s not some “start-up company” but an organization with a good reputation.

“I can’t believe we are even talking about this,” yelled Diak.

The Council finally agreed to grant the Chamber $7,500 after almost an hour of discussion and debates.

City Council ended the meeting by going into executive session to perform a 6-month evaluation of City Manager, J. Crystal Prentice.

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