The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted June 17 to cut their dues to a countywide and regional water group.
They cut their Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition annual dues in half to $27,500, but decided to make a much smaller cut to the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee.
The board voted to contribute $72,155 to the Water Advisory Committee during the next fiscal year instead of the full dues of $89,330. They cut the dues in half but added back $27,500 for Verde Valley (Middle Verde) water studies to match the $27,500 they are contributing to the Upper Verde group.
"We need to see where our water is coming from, and what's going on," Supervisor Jack Smith said.
Supervisor Chip Davis, who represents the Verde Valley, made the motion and the vote was unanimous.
Davis said the Prescott-area communities wouldn't let Verde communities join the Upper Verde Coalition.
"It's all for one and one for all as long as it's a project they want to do," Davis said. "It's a partnership of convenience."
After the meeting, Davis explained that his comment also referred to the Prescott City Council's request for the county to contribute $3 million to a Willow Creek Road project after cutting its Water Committee dues.
Supervisor Craig Brown criticized the Water Advisory Committee for not using the U.S. Geological Survey computer model created from a decade of scientific research that the committee helped pay for. The model can simulate potential effects of water-use decisions and population growth on aquifers and streams.
Even though the committee already paid for the model runs, Prescott and Prescott Valley have strongly opposed using it, fearing the public might misinterpret how their pipeline from the Big Chino aquifer might affect the flow of the Upper Verde River. They have criticized the accuracy of the model.
"We've never run the model (in the Upper Verde), so how do we know the model's no good?" Brown asked.
Brown also criticized Prescott and PV for sending the Water Advisory Committee letters demanding their dues be cut in half or they'd quit. That runs against the Water Advisory Committee's consensus decision-making process, he said. Verde Valley municipalities decided to keep paying their full dues.
Fair is fair, Brown explained after the meeting.
"If they're going to pay only half their dues, we're not going to pay the full dues, especially when we're not in the water business," Brown said.
The supervisors previously considered cutting all their Upper Verde Coalition dues, but several said Monday that would be too severe.
"There is not enough funding for the coalition to continue if we pull out," Supervisor Tom Thurman said.
Maybe the Upper Verde Coalition should become part of the Water Advisory Committee, Thurman said.
"Hell, we're all in this together," Thurman said.
The full Water Advisory Committee met this past Wednesday in Prescott for the first time since March, and its budget was on its agenda.