Category Archives: Updates

Prescription Drug Abuse

The abuse of opioids in our country has become a national crisis. While you may think the problem stems from the use of illegal drugs, such as heroin, in many cases its everyday people- grandparents, parents and young people that become addicted to doctor-prescribed pain medications such as fentanyl and codeine.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that in 2015, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids and more than 33,000 people died from overdosing on opioids.

In 2016, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) revealed that 790 Arizonans died from opioid overdose, an average of more than two people per day. Since 2012 opioid deaths in our state have increased 74 percent.

To combat this growing problem, the city of Surprise has implemented some strategies, including the creation of a website filled with information and resources to connect people that are fighting this addiction to those that can help them. A visit to www.surpriseaz.gov/opioidhelp will connect you to various local and national resources and support agencies working to end opioid abuse.

You will also find a link to an ADHS report, ordered by Governor Ducey, which includes legislative proposals to combat this epidemic. They include:

  • Imposing a five-day limit on all first fills for opioid patients to decrease the risk of dependence
  • Requiring e-prescribing for some controlled substance medications to mitigate fraudulent prescriptions
  • Requiring pharmacists to check if a patient has been prescribed both an opioid and a benzodiazepine- a combination proven to increase the risk of overdose

The report also recommends more first responders be trained on the use of naloxone (Narcan), used to help reverse an opioid overdose. In Surprise, both Fire-Medical and Police personnel are trained on the use of Narcan.

Fire-Medical has also established partnerships with substance abuse facilities that allow for direct transfer and immediate evaluation of patients as part of the new Treat and Refer program.

The city also has a RX Drop-off location in our Police Department lobby (14250 W. Statler Plaza), where you can safely dispose of your unwanted or expired prescription drugs.

Our Surprise TV channel continues to air ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism production Hooked RX: from prescription to addiction, which focuses on the abuse of prescription drugs. This is a follow-up to the Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona video they produced a few years ago, in which former Surprise Police Chief Mike Frazier was interviewed for. You can find links to both videos on the website.

While opioid abuse is a public health crisis, it is also a public safety concern. I have read stories where a person that became addicted to a prescription opioid turned to criminal activity when their doctor stopped their prescription. The addiction forced some to steal prescription pads to write out fraudulent prescriptions. While others turned to drug dealers to obtain illegal opioids, which are much stronger and can result in overdose.

The opioid epidemic took decades to create and we will not solve it overnight. It will take legislative and financial support at the federal level, in addition to state legislation to turn things around. It will take patients asking their doctors about alternative non-addicting prescriptions. It will take all of us to become better informed and to connect those that are fighting this addiction to the people that can help them.

If you have any questions about this issue or want to discuss it further, please reach out to me at 623.222.1322 or email me at jim.hayden@surpriseaz.gov.

General Obligation Bond Election 2017 – Pavement Preservation Question

My fellow neighbors, we are a month away from the November 7 General Obligation Bond Election. As you may recall since August, I have utilized my monthly article to go over each of the three questions voters will be asked to decide. We began with the $34 million Public Safety Question that would fund six projects to address public safety needs. In September, we looked at the three road safety projects listed under the $15.5 million Traffic Congestion Mitigation Question, and this month we’ll explore the $10 million Pavement Preservation Question.

Citywide Pavement Preservation and Street Maintenance

Project Need: The city has more than 1,400 paved street-lane miles. The estimated full replacement value is approximately $773 million. The 2015 independent assessment of city streets revealed the network was showing deterioration over time. Council increased the annual pavement preservation program budget from $1.8 million to $4.5 million in FYs 2016-2018. While, the budget currently can provide for lower-cost maintenance treatments, it is not sufficient to fund major pavement restructuring of Bell Road, for example, from east of the bridge to Parkview. The National Center for Pavement Preservation shows that spending a dollar on maintenance pavement preservation can eliminate or delay spending $6 to $14 on future major reconstruction costs.

If approved: This project would provide funding to cover more expensive road reconstruction projects citywide, allowing the annual $4.5 million pavement preservation budget to pay for lower-cost street maintenance projects, such as crack-seal and micro-surfacing treatments which can extend a street’s service use by 7 – 10 years.

Project Cost: $10 million | Project timeline: Jan 2018 – Dec 2022

The Cost to You

Property taxes are determined by your property’s assessed value, not the market value. Surprise has a current primary property tax rate of $0.7591 per $100 of assessed property valuation. 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. Any secondary property tax collections are required to be used to pay off the bond debt(s).

Should the Pavement Preservation question receive voter approval, the annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $8 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV) for an anticipated 22 years, or $0.0763 per $100 in Assessed LPV. That’s approximately $0.66 per month, or $0.02 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 $0.0763 rate

Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters beginning October 11. Voter registration closes on October 10 (County added a day, following the Columbus Day Holiday).

Since my last article, the County designated City Hall as a satellite voting site for this election. As a result the in-person voting dates have changed.

In-person replacement ballot voting and ballot drop-off NOW begins on October 28 – November 7, at the City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. That includes Saturday and Sunday voting. Voting hours on Election Day will be 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.

For more detailed information about the projects, costs and voting process please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.

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.

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.

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!

Stay Connected to Your City

Spring has sprung in Surprise, signaling a time when many of our residents head to “less warm” locations to spend the summer months….

While you are away, I encourage you to stay engaged with what is happening here in Surprise. This amazing and rapidly-growing city has so many exciting things happening, that I wouldn’t want you to miss out on.

How can you stay connected?

The city’s Marketing and Communications Department offers a myriad of ways you can stay on top of what’s happening here, so when you return later this fall, you won’t have missed a thing.

A quick visit to www.surpriseaz.gov will provide you with the latest news and updates through the news section on the homepage. While online you can also browse the calendar of events, which are broken up by a public meetings calendar and an all-events calendar.

You can continue to watch City Council meetings while out of town, as all of our meetings and work sessions, as well all Surprise TV programming, are streamed live on www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv. A reminder, that Council does not meet in the month of July for the summer recess.

Another great way to stay connected is to sign up for the Notify Me email list. Visit www.surpriseaz.gov/notifyme, type in your email address and make the selections for what type of information you would like to have emailed to you.

There are many options to choose from including all Current News Releases, Council Agendas and I personally have my own District 2 list in which I share city and district-based news to those that sign up. After your selections are made, click the ‘Sign In’ button to begin receiving city news directly to your email account.

You can get social with the city too! Follow us on Twitter @AZSurprise. Like us on Facebook /CityofSurprise or watch our latest videos on YouTube /SurpriseTV11.

Did you know?

The Surprise Police Department offers the no-cost Vacation Watch program to residents who will be out of town for a minimum of two weeks. Through this program, our Citizen Patrol volunteers will check your home on a recurring basis looking to make sure things remain secure while you are away. You can register for this program by calling 623.222.4277.

For those residents that will be away for four months or longer, you also have the option to temporarily suspend your trash/recycling service. The service fee is $55, to cover the cost of can pickup, restocking and redelivery. The charge will appear on your next bill following the requested date of suspension. Your billing will automatically start up again after your normal service resumes. For more information on how to enroll call Public Works at 623.222.6000.

I love being part of this connected community and I know you do to, that’s why even when we leave for short periods of time, we always return home to Surprise!

Building a Safe Surprise – Begins With You

Here in the City of Surprise we have a great public safety team at work. In this article, I’d like to share the latest happenings within the Surprise Police and Fire-Medical Departments.

Police on alert for property crime:

Surprise Police report that approximately 64% of all thefts from vehicles are the result of people leaving their car doors unlocked or leaving items of value in the car where would-be-thieves can easily see them. The theory behind our “Lock it or Lose it” campaign is simple – if the thieves can see it, they will steal it.

No one wants to be a victim of crime, that’s why I am passing along the Surprise Police Department’s reminder that the majority of thefts from vehicles are preventable. Here are some safety tips to follow:

  • Always lock your car! By simply locking your car doors and taking valuables with you, you dramatically reduce the risk of being a crime victim.
  • Park in a secure and well lit location.
  • Don’t leave valuable items in plain sight. Lock them in the trunk or take them with you.
  • Park in your home garage.

Police Chief Terry Young says nearly 95% of crime in Surprise is property crime and the vast majority is from items being stolen from open garages or unlocked vehicles. Property crime is a category of crime that includes, among other crimes, burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Property crime involves the taking of property, and does not involve force or threat of force against a victim. The good news is more than 70% of property crimes are preventable! Again it comes down to closing your garage door and locking your car.

To report a crime or suspicious activity, call Surprise Police at 623.222.4000. If it is an emergency or dangerous situation, please dial 9-1-1 immediately.

Another concern is that traffic accidents are on the rise. That’s why the City recently launched a new traffic safety campaign aimed at encouraging safe driving habits. The slogan: “Drive Wise, Surprise.”

According to Chief Young, every year, traffic accidents increase by an average of 8-to-10 percent amid a growing population. This campaign is designed to create a culture of safe driving in Surprise, whether you are a resident or a visitor driving through the city.

The campaign uses play on words and bright, creative imagery to deploy safety reminders via new street signage that you will see across the city. While the campaign may sound playful, the intention behind it is more serious.

“When you are practicing good driving habits, you are helping to make the road safer for everyone,” says Chief Young. “Getting to your destination faster is not worth a serious injury; driving distracted or under the influence is not worth a life.”

This message is especially relevant as accident statistics increase and bad driving behaviors continue:

  • Surprise saw an 8 percent increase in accidents from 2014 to 2015 and a 10 percent increase in accidents from 2015 to 2016.
  • Arizona Department of Transportation reported a statewide increase of more than 6 percent from 2014 to 2015.
  • About 87 percent of drivers engage in unsafe behaviors behind the wheel, according to national research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
  • Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in a one year period, according to a national study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In addition to street signs, the campaign includes community and media engagement, social media messaging, ads, a public service announcement and various other marketing tools. We invite residents to help us with how we can evolve the message so it remains meaningful and impactful.

If you’d like to learn more, the Sun City Grand Neighborhood watch meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 4:30 pm at the Sonoran Plaza. Additionally, Surprise Police Department hosts “Coffee with a Cop” each month. Residents can also access our crime mapping system by going to www.raidsonline.com. For more information, please contact our Community Action line at 623.222.4140.

For those residents that reached out about noise pollution along Bell Road…. Chief Young has increased patrol for this particular area. In addition to increased patrol for the noise pollution, our bike patrol enforcement has also increased to help prevent residents from becoming a victim of crime and to educate our residents to “Lock It or Lose It”.

The Evolution of Surprise Fire-Medical:

Fire-Medical Chief Tom Abbott and I spent time together to discuss the transformation of the fire service over the last four decades. Since many of us transplant ourselves here from other states, we don’t fully understand how our fire departments operate differently from those across the country. It is helpful to thoroughly comprehend how the emergency system here in the valley works.

The Phoenix Fire Department is one of the largest fire departments in the country and their Regional Dispatch Center provides fire and emergency medical dispatching services for approximately 26 Valley jurisdictions directly, including Surprise, and 3 entities indirectly. This service area is over 2,000 square miles!

This regional system is known as Automatic Aid and it began in January 1981. This time-tested deployment system provides the closest most appropriate fire service resource regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

In most communities outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area, jurisdictional lines prevent firefighters from entering neighboring towns and cities, although they may be closer to the emergency call. In the Valley, the closest, most appropriate resource is dispatched regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

What does this mean to you? The Automatic Aid system provides Valley communities, including Surprise, with the highest level of efficiency, service and effectiveness. This system gets first-responders to you faster, reduces resources and personnel costs for each participating community. And because the Phoenix Regional Dispatch Center currently partners with the Mesa Regional Dispatch Center to dispatch most of the communities in the Valley, that eliminates the need for each of 26 participating agencies to pay for their own dispatch center.

Cost savings do not end there…ISO (Insurance Service Office) ratings determine a portion of how much you pay for homeowners and business insurance premiums. The ISO categorizes municipalities and fire districts from 10 – 1, with 1 being the best. Due to Automatic Aid, the city of Surprise currently holds a rating of 2. According to Fire Chief Abbott, in all likelihood our rating would be 4 without automatic aid.

Another benefit to the Automatic Aid System is that it puts us in a better position during large catastrophic incidents. During these large scale incidents, we rely on our partners to send resources. They also backfill our fire stations and run our calls when our firefighters are committed to other incidents and our resources are depleted. Additionally, the regional partnership provides our firefighters with the ability to utilize state-of-the-art regional training facilities that provide the most innovative training.

The protection of life and property is the mission of the Surprise Public Safety Teams!

We’ve placed police and fire stations strategically across geographic regions, commensurate with population densities and workload needs. While Automatic Aid provides us with innumerable benefits, we must continue to follow growth trends to ensure we have the proper number of fire stations and police stations/sub stations available in the right areas to continue to keep Surprise a safe and thriving community.

Sustaining Surprise’s Water Supply

Jacques Cousteau said, “We forget that the Water Cycle and the Life Cycle are one.” Water isn’t just an asset to us individually; it is an asset critical to the long-term success, economic development, and overall sustainability of everyone.

Water History In Arizona

Water has always been Arizona’s most valuable resource. Native Americans understood that to survive in the desert, water had to be located where it was needed. When it was discovered that Arizona’s soil was able to support crop production, modern farmers had two options for water. The first option was to utilize nearby surface water supplies, such as rivers and streams. The second option was to drill and mine groundwater. Surface water supplies were so valuable that, in certain parts of the state, farmers used their land as collateral to construct dams, reservoirs, and canal systems to control and distribute water. Such was the case in the early 1900’s when the Salt River Project (SRP) was formed. This is where the Salt and Verde river systems provide water and electric power to farms and municipalities for much of the Phoenix Metro area. Years later, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) was constructed to bring about 1.5 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to Central and Southern Arizona every year. It is a 336-mile long system of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants and pipelines and is the largest single resource of renewable water supplies in Arizona and is Surprise’s primary renewable water source. More than 5 million people, or more than 80% of the state’s population, live in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties, where CAP water is delivered.

In 1980, the State of Arizona passed the Groundwater Management Act to address the increased usage of groundwater, primarily for farming purposes. The excessive pumping caused a reduction in the groundwater supplies and an increase in instances of land subsidence. The Groundwater Code promotes water conservation and long-range planning of our groundwater resources. Through this Act, the most populated areas were placed into Active Management Areas (AMAs) where the primary source of water for use in farming and municipal uses must be from renewable sources, or sources other than groundwater. Since the enactment of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act the use of groundwater has declined, despite a growth in Arizona’s population.

AZ Water Use Chart

Challenges Facing Arizona

Now more than ever, water management is facing significant challenges: available supplies of renewable water are limiting, demand for water is rising, delivery infrastructure is getting older and an extended period of drought is threatening current supplies. All of this leads to rising costs to treat or acquire new sources and to construct and maintain infrastructure to deliver water.

While all of this sounds dire, Arizona has taken considerable steps to hedge against catastrophic events; however, more work needs to be done to ensure sustainable water supplies. Such steps include the elimination of invasive plant species that tap in surface water supplies, increasing water conservation and education on effective water management, growing the number of water sources for the state, and expanding the abilities of the CAP and other systems to transport new water sources.

Water sustainability needs to be a top priority at the state and federal level. State and federal government must work together to continue to support water policies and programs that encourage water efficiencies.

What Does This Mean For Surprise

Along with federal and state leadership, the Surprise City Council also recognizes the vital role water plays in our daily lives, now and well into the future. That’s why we continue to expand our water supply to meet future demand. Some of our city’s best practices include efficient water management; streamlined water operations; maximizing of groundwater recharge; and we carry a strong, diversified water portfolio.

Another significant moment in our city’s water management history came in 2014, when City Manager Bob Wingenroth formed the Water Resource Management (WRM) Department to focus the city’s efforts in achieving best management practices. In addition to constantly striving to provide water services in an efficient and cost effective fashion, WRM also explores new avenues for the city to acquire new sources of water and water rights.

Furthermore, City Council believes there is much more to be done concerning water conservation. Council supports efforts in assisting residents to manage their own water use wisely. Wise water use by customers reduces the demand on the system, infrastructure, and need to acquire new sources as rapidly. And, efficient water use will save the customer money on their bill too.

I’d like to thank Surprise resident and water advocate Ken Wright and Water Resource Management Director Terry Lowe for their input and for educating us on their passion!

Lastly, I’d like to provide you with an update on the Stormwater Utility. The City adopted a Stormwater Utility fee which went into effect November 1, 2016. Customers enrolled in the annual prepay program for city sewer and/or sanitation services will see the annual Stormwater Utility fee for the January – December 2017 billing period on their annual statement. Unlike the annual sewer and sanitation fees, the annual Stormwater fee of $24 does not receive the 5% discount. Any unpaid Stormwater balances from your November or December bills will be included in the January annual prepay bill and the City is waiving all late fees.

January 2017 – New Year Fitness

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when many of us begin to focus on fitness to kick-off our resolution of improving ourselves.

While the city has about one-third, to half the number of recreational offerings of our peer communities per population, we do have some amazing parks and programs currently to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore some of them…

Surprise Community ParkThe Surprise Community Park, 15953 N. Bullard Avenue, offers various playground units, 4 lighted basketball courts, 8 lighted pickleball courts, and 2 lighted sand volleyball courts. Additional amenities include 10 ramadas, picnic tables, restrooms, drinking fountains, barbecue facilities, a 5 acre urban fishing lake with accessible dock and a dog park.

Asante Community Park, 16763 W. Vereda Solana Drive, is located in northern Surprise. The park offers 2 playground units, 2 lighted soccer fields, 2 lighted softball/baseball fields, 4 lighted basketball courts and walking paths with exercise stations. Other amenities include 5 ramadas, 2 restrooms, drinking fountains, barbecue facilities, picnic tables and a wonderful World War II memorial.

Heritage ParkHeritage Park, 15073 W. Sweetwater Avenue, is located in central Surprise in the Marley Park neighborhood. The park offers a playground unit, splash pad, walking paths and 2 lighted softball fields. Other amenities include 5 ramadas, 1 pavillion, barbecue facilities, picnic tables, drinking fountains and restrooms.

Surprise Farms Community Park, 17894 Westpark Boulevard, is conveniently located near Loop 303 and Bell Road. Amenities include 4 softball fields, open green spaces which can be utilized for fitness activities, walking paths, 2 playground units, 2 ramadas, a lighted and fenced skate park, a splash pad, drinking fountains and restrooms. This newer park also offers a dog park.

The Community and Recreation Services Department offers over 1,900 programs in the areas of youth and adult sports, aquatics, adaptive recreation, special interest classes and other activities. In addition to the parks, we have a 140 acre recreation campus, 3 recreation centers, 2 aquatics centers and a 24 court tennis center.

The winter season of Adult sports features Men’s Softball, Co-Ed Softball, Basketball and Flag Football. Multiple seasons of all of these sports are offered throughout the year. If you haven’t taken advantage of our incredible facilities or programs, I would encourage you to consider them and absorb the beautiful amenities we have right here!

Do you want to find the fountain of youth? Look no further…we have the amenities within our city limits and Sun City Grand. If we want to stay young and healthy, fitness needs to be one of our top priorities. It’s never too late to start a fitness program. How do we start? I recently met with Roz Locker, Occupational Therapist, Personal Trainer and fellow Sun City Grand resident regarding fitness and motivation. Together we suggest the following:

  • Consult your doctor before beginning any fitness program.
  • Pick a reasonable goal, don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Find a trainer or knowledgeable friend to help you learn the right way.
  • Be accountable for someone else, it helps keep you accountable as well.
  • Minimum 3 day per week commitment
  • Consistency is key
  • Find something you are comfortable with. Your success is contingent upon it!
  • Remember you are not limited to the gym. We are surrounded by numerous amenities

While cost of a trainer may concern some residents, it is possible that your insurance may cover wellness. Some of us may have had physical therapy prescribed for us. We can always utilize the expertise of that therapist to begin a program as well. Furthermore, conditioning prior to any surgical procedure is important to your recovery.

The benefits of fitness can’t possibly be measured. The endorphins and chemicals produced from working out not only benefit our hearts but also our minds. It provides us with the power of confidence and improved self-image. Fitness helps raise our awareness about the foods we consume and help makes us more mindful of nutrition and the supplements we take. It helps us build our social circle…It helps us build camaraderie with our gym mates. It is important to remember that results are not immediate – approximately 3 months at the earliest providing your fitness routines are consistent.

The health of our city is important but so is the health of our residents! I hope we start the New Year taking care of ourselves!

Councilmember Jim Hayden