All posts by admin

General Obligation Bond Election 2017 – Traffic Congestion Mitigation Question

As I told you in August, my next few articles are designed to help educate voters on the November 7th General Obligation Bond Election. Registered voters will receive a ballot-by-mail to decide three bond questions in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation. Last month, we reviewed the Public Safety Question, now let’s look at the projects under the $15.5 million Traffic Congestion Mitigation Question.

Waddell Road (SR 303 to Reems Rd)

Project Need: In 2007, the city commissioned an Arterial Capacity Study with goals to improve traffic safety and mitigate traffic congestion. This section of Waddell was identified in that study as being incomplete. With a little more than 16,000 vehicles travelling this road daily, it is currently at capacity.

If approved: This project will construct 4 additional travel lanes for a total of 6 lanes. Other improvements include a traffic signal at the Sarival intersection, bike lanes, sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping. This project builds out Waddell eliminating where two lanes merge into one. It also pays to relocate existing Maricopa Water District infrastructure and for right-of-way acquisition.

Project Cost: $7 million    Project timeline: Jan 2019 – Jan 2021

Greenway Road (Cotton Ln east to Sarival Ave)

Project Need: The city commissioned an Arterial Capacity Study in 2007 with goals to improve traffic safety and mitigate traffic congestion. This section of Greenway Rd was identified in the study as being incomplete. The single lanes along the south side of Greenway are over capacity with more than 21,000 vehicles per day.

If approved: This project will construct 2 additional travel lanes for a total of 4 lanes. Other improvements include bike lanes, sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping. This project builds out Greenway eliminating where two lanes merge into one. It also pays to relocate existing Maricopa Water District infrastructure and for right-of-way acquisition.

Project Cost: $5.1 million    Project timeline: Jan 2018 – Feb 2020

Litchfield Road (Waddell Rd to Peoria Ave)

Project Need: The city commissioned an Arterial Capacity Study in 2007 with goals to improve traffic safety and mitigate traffic congestion. This section of Litchfield Rd was identified in the study as being incomplete. With approximately 14,200 vehicles travelling this road daily, it is nearing capacity.

If approved: This project will construct 2 additional travel lanes for a total of 4 lanes. Other improvements include bike lanes, sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping. This project builds out Greenway eliminating where two lanes merge into one.

Project Cost: $3.4 million    Project timeline: Feb 2018 – Sep 2020

The Cost to You

GO Bonds are paid back via a secondary property tax. Any collections are required to be used to pay off the bond debt(s). Currently, the city does not have a secondary property tax. If any of the three proposed bond questions are voter approved, it would create a secondary property tax for the city.

Should the Traffic Congestion Mitigation question receive voter approval, the annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $12 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV) for an anticipated 22 years, or $0.1188 per $100 in Assessed LPV. That’s approximately $1.00 per month, or $0.03 per day.

Follow These Steps To Determine The Property Tax For Your Home:

  1. Visit http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov/
  2. Enter property address in search box, and click on parcel number for details
  3. Scroll down to Valuation Information
  4. Find the “Assessed LPV”
  5. Divide “Assessed LPV” dollar amount by 100, then multiply that number by the $0.1188 rate

For more detailed information about the projects please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise. You can also learn more about the costs and election information on that site. The city will schedule a series of public bond education meetings; those dates will be added to the website. Next month, we will explore the Pavement Preservation Question and costs. Don’t forget voter registration for this election closes on October 10!

General Obligation Bond Election 2017 – Public Safety Question

On November 7, 2017 all registered voters in Surprise will receive a ballot by mail, asking them to decide three General Obligation (GO) Bond questions in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation. Over the next three months, I will explore each of the three questions with you. Let’s begin with the projects listed in the $34 million Public Safety Question.

Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center (city-owned land at 134th & Foxfire drives)

Project Need: Current Police Evidence and Property facility (Litchfield Rd, north of Bell Rd) is at 85% – 90% storage capacity. Both Surprise Police and Fire-Medical are storing tactical gear at various locations, reducing efficiencies that translate to quick response.

If approved: Design and build a joint facility to support additional space for police evidence and property storage and accommodate overall public safety tactical storage in one logistics center. The overall facility at 29,000 SF is designed to accommodate 30 years of growth. Project Cost: $9 million Project timeline: Jan 2019 – May 2021

Police Training Facility (Litchfield Rd, north of Bell Rd)

Project Need: The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board requires 8 hrs of continuous education/ 8 hrs of proficiency training every year, per officer. Currently, Surprise Police do not have dedicated training space to meet some of the training requirements.

If approved: The existing 8,500 SF evidence/ property building will undergo an interior reconfiguration to accommodate space for defensive tactics and firearms simulation training, classroom, etc… This meets AZPOST’s proficiency training requirements.Project Cost: $1.9 million Project timeline: Jun 2020 – May 2022

Permanent Fire Station 304 (163rd Ave, south of Happy Valley Rd)

Project Need: Temporary FS 304 has been in operation for 14 years and has overextended its useful life, and will be unable to meet the needs of the nearly 18,000 homes that have been approved for its service area.

If approved: FS 304 will allow Surprise Fire-Medical to increase service levels, as growth dictates, to maintain adequate response times. This 18K SF permanent station will be designed with multiple bays to accommodate an Engine, Ladder Company, Ambulance and a Battalion Chief. Initially, the station will house the existing single engine and crew. Project Cost: $8.6 million Project timeline: Jan 2018 – Sep 2020

New Fire Station 308 (near SE Corner of Litchfield and Cactus roads)

Project Need: Last year, more than 90% of the calls for service in FS 308’s proposed service area were responded to by Surprise Fire Stations 305 & 307; and an El Mirage station. National standards recommend a 6 minute EMT response time/ 6 minute, 20 second fire response time. In 2006, FS 305’s average response time in this service area was 6 minutes, 47 seconds (FS 307: 7 min and 35 sec; El Mirage 7 min and 33 sec.)

If approved: Building FS 308 will lessen the burden on FS 305, the busiest city station in 2016, and reduce travel distance for emergency responders in the new 308 service area. At 14K SF, 308 will house an Engine Co, Hazardous Materials Response Team and future ambulance. Staff will include the addition of 3 captains, 3 engineers, 9 firefighters, and 1support staff. Project Cost: $7.1 million Project timeline: Jan 2018 – Feb 2020

Land for future Fire Station, Police Substation & Park (in southwest Surprise)

Project Need: The city is currently updating the Public Safety Master Plan, which has identified the need for an additional fire station/ police substation in the southwestern region of the city to meet future needs. As new development is already underway, the city wants to secure land while still available at today’s price.

If approved: This project would allow the city to secure 16 acres of land for a future Fire Station, Police Substation, and Community Park for residential use. The purchase of SW Surprise land in advance of the need ensures the capability to provide the highest level of service when demand warrants. Project Cost: $3 million Project timeline: Jan 2018 – Jul 2019

Public Works (PW) Operations Facility (Cactus & Litchfield roads)

Project Need: Currently, PW operations are located at three sites across Surprise that have either overextended their useful life or are inefficient to meet today’s service needs. The Street Maintenance/Solid Waste Facility (134th & Foxfire drives), is overcrowded and over-programmed raising efficiency & safety concerns. Fleet Maintenance (Dysart Rd, north of Grand Ave), is not large enough to perform maintenance on large fire apparatus indoors.

If approved: The facility will consolidate PW operations into one facility to support street maintenance, trash/recycling, traffic signal and citywide vehicle fleet operations. Capable of meeting the next 25 years of growth, this 44K SF project supports public safety and city fleet maintenance and assists with Public Safety storage by vacating space at 134th and Foxfire drives (future site for the Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center). Design/ build costs are approximately $12 million. The city has $7.2 million in impact fees and $200,000 in solid waste fees to cover the majority of the cost. The remaining $4.4 million requires bond approval by the voters. Project timeline: Jan 2018 – Jul 2020

The Cost to You

GO Bonds are paid back via a secondary property tax. Any collections are required to be used to pay off the bond debt(s). Currently the city does not have a secondary property tax. If any of the three proposed bond questions are voter approved, it would create a secondary property tax for the city.

Should the Public Safety question receive voter approval, the annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $26 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV) for an anticipated 22 years, or $0.2623 per $100 in Assessed LPV. That’s approximately $2.16 per month, or $0.07 per day.

Follow These Steps To Determine The Property Tax For Your Home:

  1. Visit http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov/
  2. Enter property address in search box, and click on parcel number for details
  3. Scroll down to Valuation Information
  4. Find the “Assessed LPV”
  5. Divide “Assessed LPV” dollar amount by 100, then multiply that number by the $0.2623 rate

For more detailed information about the projects, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise. You can also learn more about the costs and election information on that site. The city will schedule a series of public bond education meetings; those dates will be added to the website. Next month, we will explore the Traffic Congestion Mitigation projects and costs. Until then be well my friends.

It’s time to Decide Surprise as Council sends 3 bond questions for Nov ballot

At their June 6th Regular Meeting, City Council approved sending three General Obligation Bond questions in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation to the ballot in a Special Election on November 7, 2017. All registered voters in Surprise will receive a ballot by mail.

Residents are invited to learn more about the projects, costs and voter information at a specialized website Decide Surprise www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.

The projects included in the following questions were based on community needs, comments received from residents during the 2016 bond election outreach process, and input received during and after the Surprise Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee’s April 19 meeting.

Question #1: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $34 million public safety bond proposal to: build a Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center; renovate an existing city facility into a Police Training Facility; acquire Land for Future Fire Station/Police Substation & Park; build a new Fire Station at Cactus and Litchfield roads; build  a new Fire Station along 163rd Avenue, south of Happy Valley Road, to replace the current temporary station; and build a Public Works Operations Facility to centralize  operations. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $26 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Question #2: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $15.5 million street bond proposal to provide funds to plan, design, construct and improve Waddell, Greenway and Litchfield roads. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $12 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Question #3: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $10 million street pavement preservation bond proposal to plan, design, construct, replace and improve deteriorated street pavement citywide. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $8 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

General Obligation Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest. The repayment comes from a secondary property tax, which Surprise does not currently have.   If all three questions are approved, the annual secondary property tax could be up to $46 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value, or approximately $4 per month.  ($92 per $200,000 in Limited Property Value, or approximately $8 per month).  You can determine the exact cost to your property by following the steps listed at www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.

Educational public meetings will be scheduled ahead of the November 7 Special Election. Meeting dates and locations will be posted at www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.

Voter registration for this election closes on October 9. You can register online by visiting:  https://recorder.maricopa.gov/elections/registrationform.aspx, or stop by the Surprise City Clerk’s Office in person Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Council oks FY18 budget that maintains services & property tax rate

The Surprise City Council approved a $275.8 million Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, at a Special Meeting Tuesday night.

The budget maintains existing city services and identifies creative options to maximize some resources.

That includes securing outside revenue sources and reallocating the operating budget to provide new positions that address public safety, water and inspection demands.  Two public safety grants (SAFER Grant and COPS Hiring Program) will partially fund a five-member Fire-Medical Peak Time Response Unit and two police officers, focused on community policing, through 2019.

This budget maintains the city’s current property tax rate of $0.7591 per $100 of assessed property valuation. Due to new construction and higher property valuations, as assessed by Maricopa County that would generate approximately $380,100 in new money. The primary property tax levy is set to support the uses of the General Fund and provides a more diversified revenue system that protects city services.

The budget also dedicates $49.8 million to support the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is used to maintain, preserve, and/or replace city infrastructure. This includes funding for pavement preservation of city streets, vehicle replacement and aging communications, information technology, recreation and utility infrastructure.

There are also a number of financial policy revisions regarding the level at which Council adopts the budget, who can amend the budget, minimum fund balances for the new Stormwater and Workers’ Compensation funds, and clearer definition of the reserves and their potential uses in the General Fund to strengthen the city’s financial position.

Council will vote to set the property tax levy and revise the financial policies at their June 20 Council Meeting.

The FY18 Budget will be available at www.surpriseaz.gov/budget.

Emergency response in a growing city can be challenging

Over the last few months, several meetings were held to discuss the city’s FY18 budget and its priorities. After many discussions, City Manager Bob Wingenroth presented his Recommended Budget which is scheduled for approval this month. These budgets discussions marked my first as an elected official in Surprise. With that being said, maintaining current services and protecting our residents is my priority.

When I reflect on the protection of our residents, public safety comes to mind. One of the key aspects of public safety is to save lives and protect property. In order to accomplish this, we need to ensure our response times to these incidents are more than sufficient. As an elected official, I have an obligation to the citizens of the city to make sure we can adequately protect our residents in the event emergency and fire services are needed. Having spent most of my career with the Glendale Fire Department, I focus on response times. When lives and property are at risk, every second of the emergency response cycle counts.

Response to medical emergencies is constantly evolving. Science is becoming more and more sophisticated. The more we learn, the more it changes. Paramedicine has certainly contributed to quicker and more efficient responses as has telemedicine. For example, telemedicine utilizes technology that has significantly changed how EMS providers perform care. Ambulances and fire apparatuses can now carry advanced diagnostic equipment that has become more portable and more affordable. EKG monitors perform and transmit 12-leads, record vital signs, and measure carbon dioxide levels in expired air and carbon monoxide levels in blood.

Even with all of the enhancements listed above, response times and resource management remains a complex part of service delivery. The time of day, street networks and traffic planning are all items that have a large impact on the response times.

The City of Surprise currently has seven fire stations, all of which provide for Advanced Life Support (ALS) via Fire Engines and Ladder Trucks. This delivery model has proven to be very effective and ensures that the crews are always ready for whatever call comes up. All trucks are equipped with GPS devices that report their location to the Phoenix Fire dispatch center. Phoenix Fire is then able to determine the closest unit to the call and sends them to help reduce response times. This process ensures all resources are being used in the most efficient manner. Unfortunately, if there are multiple or stacked calls for service in a specific areas of the city, units are sent over to help cover those calls. This situation is what causes response times to become extended. Here is an example:

If a call for service comes out in the southeast corner of the city, currently there is no fire station there to cover that call. This call is routed to the closest unit; a majority of the time this is Fire Station (FS) 305, near Surprise Stadium. When FS305 gets that call their area is left uncovered. Any call for service in that area is now served by neighboring fire stations such as Fire Station 306 located at 16645 W. Clearview Boulevard. This means that the response to a current call in Fire Station 305’s first due will be extended. In addition, any call that takes place in Fire Station 306’s first due while they are out will also be extended because it is being back filled with a unit outside of that area.

The Surprise Fire Medical Department (SFMD) has a goal to be at your door step within 6 minutes of the call for service 90% of the time. With this goal in mind you can see why calls for service in uncovered areas can cause the entire system to underperform. According to the American Heart Association, every minute after cardiac arrest and no advanced care (AED & CPR), the chance of survival decreases by 10%. After 10 minutes the chances of survival is very poor.

Surprise continues to grow which means more demand on all of our services, including public safety. It is imperative that we continue to serve our residents adequately and ensure their safety is our first and foremost concern.

City, Valley Metro host public meeting to discuss Dial-a-Ride transition, June 14

The city of Surprise, in partnership with Valley Metro, will host a public outreach meeting on Tuesday, June 14 to provide current Northwest Valley Dial-a-Ride passengers an opportunity to learn about the new transportation service models prior to the July 1 transition of Dial-a-Ride to RideChoice and Valley Metro Paratransit.

The outreach meeting will be held in the Surprise City Hall Community Room, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza, on June 14 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. A brief presentation will begin at 4 p.m.

Information about the shared route Senior Bus will also be presented at the meeting.

Following the presentation, city and Valley Metro representatives will be available to answer questions about the transportation services.

Individuals needing reasonable accommodations should contact the ADA coordinator at 623.222.3531 (Voice); or 623.222.3503 (TTY) at least three (3) business days prior to the meeting so arrangements can be made.

Customers unable to attend the meeting can stay informed about the Dial-a-Ride service changes by visiting surpriseaz.gov/transportation.

Council briefed on possible General Obligation Bond questions; Call to Election vote set for June 6

City staff briefed City Council on three proposed General Obligation Bond questions in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation, at Tuesday’s Work Session.

The three proposed questions and projects, as presented to Council, were determined based on community needs, comments received from residents during the 2016 bond election outreach process, and input received during and after the Surprise Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee’s April 19 meeting.

Proposed Question #1: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $34 million public safety bond proposal to: build a Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center; renovate an existing city facility into a Police Training Facility; acquire Land for Future Fire Station/Police Substation & Park; build a new Fire Station at Cactus and Litchfield roads; build a new Fire Station along 163rd Avenue, south of Happy Valley Road, to replace the current temporary station; and build a Public Works Operations Facility to centralize operations. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $26 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Proposed Question #2: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $15.5 million street bond proposal to provide funds to plan, design, construct and improve Waddell, Greenway and Litchfield roads. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $12 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Proposed Question #3: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $10 million street pavement preservation bond proposal to plan, design, construct, replace and improve deteriorated street pavement citywide. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $8 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Per City Council consensus at the Work Session, staff will bring back a Call to Election action item at the June 6 Regular Council Meeting. If approved, the three separate bond questions would appear on the ballot in a Special Election on November 7. All registered voters in Surprise will receive a ballot by mail.

View the May 16 Work Session bond discussion

City Council Work Sessions begin at 4 p.m. and Regular Meetings begin at 6 p.m. They are open to the public and carried live on Surprise TV and online www.surpriseaz.gov/surprise11. All meeting agendas are posted online at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting at www.surpriseaz.gov.

Luke Air Force Base Community Partnership

Earlier this year, Mayor Sharon Wolcott appointed me to Luke West Valley Council. As an Air Force Veteran myself, it is certainly an honor and a privilege to be part of this group. Luke West Valley Council promotes Luke Air Force Base as well as the F-35 Lightning II Fighter Jet pilot-training program and the continuation of their F-16 training mission.

When I left Vietnam, I was asked to list my stateside choices. Luke and Williams Air Force bases were my choices and I was assigned to Luke AFB in 1964. My military records had indicated that I had been involved in counter insurgency and while that was incorrect, it allowed me extra time on the Base. I remained at Luke until 1969 where afterwards, I was transferred to the Philippines on a two year accompany assignment. I returned to Luke AFB on a retirement assignment in 1974 so it is fair to say, I consider Luke my home.

Luke West Valley was formed in the 1980s to build regional and community support for Luke’s success in the region. The group is comprised of Luke AFB officials, elected leaders from 12 West Valley cities and Maricopa County, as well as representatives from Sun City and Sun City West. Its purpose is to discuss and address community issues, challenges and successes concerning Luke activities.

Members of Luke West Valley Council at Goodyear Ballpark.
Members of Luke West Valley Council with Brig. General Leonard at spring training game last month at Goodyear Ballpark.

Recently Brigadier General Brook J. Leonard updated City Council on Luke AFB 56th Fighter Wing mission and activities.

The base was named after 2d Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr., a Phoenix native, Fighter Ace and the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor. He joined the Air Force during World War I. Lt. Luke was responsible for 13 confirmed kills during a 7-day combat period and 18 overall kills in Germany.

Thunderbolt Nation is comprised of four different locations – Luke AFB, Holloman AFB, Davis-Monthan AFB, Klamath Falls AFB. There are over 5,600 people as part of 56th Fighter Wing. Approximately 10,000 people come on and off the base on a daily basis. Lockheed Martin employs almost 400 civilian employees on the Base who take care of the F-35s. Between the 56th Fighter Wing and the 944th Fighter Wing (the reserve component), Luke AFB produces 66% of the World’s F-35 pilots and 97% of the F-16 pilots.

The partnerships that the Base forms with the community involves more than the West Valley. The Barry M. Goldwater Range in southern Arizona not only provides 4,300 square miles of restricted air space but 1.75 million acres of ground space for the Air Force to train.

The F-35 program at Luke AFB continues to expand! They just took possession of their 51st F-35 and plan to acquire a total of 144. They are now breaking ground on Ops 4 and Ops 5 and have plans for a total of six F-35 squadrons.

Fighter Country Partnership is a community and advocacy support group for Luke AFB that was founded in 1997. Fighter Country Partnership is a non-profit 501(4)c organization with a 501(c)3 foundation. FCP works to support the Airmen and families at Luke AFB focused on three primary areas: morale and welfare, culture and tradition and sustainability of the Luke mission. More than 300 people are part of FCP. Last year FCP provided more than $260,000 in, in-kind donations to the Airmen of Luke and hosted numerous events for the Airmen and families including a financial saving expo and appreciation dinners.

To say that Luke AFB is a regional economic driver is an understatement. The 4,200-acre base contributes an estimated $2 billion into the state economy on an annual basis and serves more than 100,000 servicemen and -women, military family members and veterans.

According to Brig. General Leonard, Luke AFB payroll is an estimated $448 million per year. The Base spends $52.7 million annually in local contracts, provides $2 million annually for education assistance and spends $276.7 million yearly on purchases. There are approximately 30,000 retirees within a 50-mile radius. Luke AFB spends $55 million a year on retiree payments. These figures should continue to increase.

In the words of our Air Force, history makes us smarter but our heritage makes us prouder. I hope this summary reflects the gratitude I have not only for Luke Air Force Base but all of our branches of military and our veterans!

FY18 Recommended Budget released

City Manager Bob Wingenroth presented a $336.5 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Recommended Budget to City Council at Tuesday’s Work Session.

The Recommended Budget maintains existing city services and identifies creative options to maximize some resources.

That includes securing outside revenue sources and reallocating the operating budget to provide new positions that address public safety, water and inspection demands. Two public safety grants (SAFER Grant and COPS Hiring Program) will partially fund a five-member Fire-Medical Peak Time Response Unit and two police officers, focused on community policing, through 2019.

The Recommended Budget also includes $49.8 million to support the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is used to maintain, preserve, and/or replace city infrastructure. This includes funding for pavement preservation of city streets, vehicle replacement and aging communications, information technology, recreation and utility infrastructure.

There are also two recommended financial policy revisions regarding the Minimum Fund Balance Policy for the General fund and the Stormwater and Workers’ Compensation funds that will provide clearer definition for the reserves to strengthen the city’s financial position.

The FY18 Recommended Budget will be available at www.surpriseaz.gov/budget.

Council is scheduled to vote on the final budget in June.