You hear it all the time in business. Corporate executives, government officials and the like “defer” things until the future.
Recently our Town Council had a lengthy discussion about deferring road and building maintenance on Town of Fountain Hills streets and owned buildings.
Deferring maintenance is like saying, “Oh, I’ll comb my hair tomorrow.” That means all of today I will have messed up hair. Everyone I talk with will wonder why my hair is a disaster and what’s going on with me. Plus, they will talk about it into the future. Remember that day Scott didn’t comb his hair. What was going on with him. What if I went for entire week?
Granted, street and building maintenance are a lot different than my hair, but I think we have to ask ourselves this question. Do we really want to defer things such as street and building maintenance?
Until we have hovercrafts, roads are essential for transportation. Every time your leave your home or business a road is necessary to reach you destination. Imagine how many times in a year you travel to and from your residence. It’s hundreds, if not thousands, of impressions of your car tires on the ground.
Building maintenance is also just as critical. If you’re attending a seminar in the Fountain Hills Community Center and the chiller system goes down (which was discussed at the Town Council meeting), I’m certain you will be wondering why.
Rarely does anyone defer critical maintenance on their own home. Let’s say your ventilation system stops working, do you put it off for a few weeks or months? This is Arizona, we would never do that.
The Town of Fountain Hills staff believe many of our roads are grossly under maintenanced. Pot holes, worn areas and damage do not bode well for people who are considering moving here nor are they good for your tires. Left without repair, these issues become more expensive as additional work is needed to fix the surface underneath where your tires meet the road.
These qualified staff members are your local experts–you hired them, now trust their judgement. They have a tremendous amount of experience, rely on consultants when necessary and are highly budget conscious and conservative with Town funds.
Just two years ago Saguaro Boulevard was shut down for about 9 months while 40 years of major road upgrades were completed. This work was long overdue and required the passing of a bond for the $8.2 million budget needed.
Bonds have become common tools for municipalities that wish to raise money and pay it off over time.
However, the real issue is that the Town of Fountain Hills budget does not contain enough funds to actually pay for the required expenses of operating and maintaining roads, buildings and other Town features.
Some of the the very reasons you moved your home and/or business here are rotting away because the budget is not consistent with the infrastructure needed to maintain and improve existing roads and buildings. This simply cannot continue.
Imagine you wait 20 years to paint your home instead of the typical 5 to 8 years. It will look terrible, require much more extensive work and cost you significantly more because you didn’t maintain the surface.
We have forced Town leaders and staff to make budget cuts nearly a decade after the economic bubble burst. Construction revenues are just beginning to increase to a similar level. Fountain Hills is not growing like our neighbors and these revenues are not consistent over time. Nor are they enough to guarantee a long-term, fiscally responsible budget.
Enough with the deferred maintenance.