City Council Work Session
Budget Discussion For Fiscal Year 2018
On February 21, the Council had its second in a series of work sessions on the upcoming FY2018 budget. The focus was on the sources of funds for the General Fund. The General Fund’s unassigned fund balance is $2.5 million higher than estimated due to greater revenues and lower expenditures than expected for last fiscal year. These funds can be used for one time uses such as capital projects. Revenues for the current fiscal year are also currently 4% or $1.8 million above budgeted amounts. Impacts to local sales tax collections within the Bell Road and Grand Avenue Interchange Improvement project area are smaller than anticipated. These impacts are further offset by greater collections in other areas of the City.
Also reviewed were the city’s reserves which total $35.2 million for the current fiscal year. A revision to establish separate Operating, Budget Stabilization, and Emergency reserves within the General Fund was discussed. This will help to clarify the purpose of the General Fund reserves, identify when they can be used, and establish timelines to replenish them when they are used.
The budget discussions will continue over the next few Council meetings resulting in the June adoption of the FY2018 budget that will become effective July 1.
Discussion of Adoption of Public Art Plan
Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission Chair Susan DeJong provided an overview of the proposed Public Art Plan. The purpose of the plan is to identify and refine how art is integrated into City Hall. Commission members have worked in partnership with Consultant Architekton. The Commission would like to utilize some of this fiscal year’s funding to cover some of the priority projects. The goal is to proceed with the highest impact projects for the lowest cost.
City Council Meeting
Major Amendment to the Sycamore Farms PAD
Sustainability Engineering Group, on behalf Taylor Trust Farms LLC, sought approval of an amendment to the zoning of the Sycamore Farms PAD to modify land uses and to adjust certain commercial development standards. These proposed amendments demonstrated intent to develop the site to better represent the current needs of the residential and commercial development community that has transformed since the adoption of the Sycamore Farms PAD 16 years ago. The amendment passed unanimously.
Approval of Annexation
Staff requested the approval of an annexation of a 3.34 acre portion of Peoria Avenue, located between Sarival Avenue and Reems Road. Based on a previous Intergovernmental Agreement, Maricopa County expanded and constructed this proposed annexation section of Right-of-Way on the south side of Peoria Avenue between Reems Road and Sarival Avenue. This annexation will transfer ownership and maintenance to the City of Surprise and provide a safe transportation option and improve connectivity. The recommendation passed unanimously.
Council repeals City-wide Temporary Sign Policy; and Bell and Grand Temporary Sign and Use Permit Policy
The city of Surprise has a history of responding to business needs. During the last economic recession, City Council adopted a citywide temporary signage policy, in 2009, to temporarily allow for a-frame signs, building banners and ease restrictions for sign walkers.
Council extended it for one year in 2012 and agreed to keep it in place during the Bell-Grand Construction Project in 2016.
Eight years later with an improving economy, Council approved removing the temporary policy, at their February 21 Regular Meeting. This move is aimed at eliminating the clutter of too many temporary signs that have popped up along city sidewalks and other locations throughout the city.
Businesses citywide have until April 22, 2017 (60 days following Council action) to comply with the original signage policy.
Under the original policy:
- A-frames are not permitted.
- Building banners are only allowed twice per year, for 30 days.
- In the event of a Grand Opening, the building banner is permitted for a 60-day period.
The city also realized that closing Bell Road for seven months during the Bell-Grand intersection work would impact area businesses, so Council adopted a temporary Bell-Grand Signage Policy, for businesses surrounding the construction zone that allowed for more temporary signage during construction and waived temporary use permit fees.
Now that the work is complete, Council has voted to repeal this policy as well. Bell-Grand businesses have until April 22, 2017 to comply with the original signage policies as listed previously. In addition, Bell-Grand area businesses will once again be required to obtain a building permit for directional signage and special events may also require a Temporary Use Permit. These two items were temporarily lifted under the temporary Bell-Grand policy.
The ultimate goal is to remove clutter from our city streets and sidewalks and create an atmosphere that aims to make business signage more impactful.
The Sign Code is available online at:
Questions? Call Community Development at 623.222.3000.
Purchase of Real Property in Original Town Site
The City Council has identified the Surprise Heritage District as an important area to the City’s heritage and as such to expand current city services in the area. The City owns the majority of property surrounding the site and thus has identified the Do Norma property as a property to acquire as an investment for City services in the future. The Council unanimously agreed to purchase the 5.84 acres.
Budget Amendment for Pickleball Courts and Shade Structures
In February 2015, City Council formed a Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee to review potential use of general obligation bonds to fund specific capital improvements. Construction of eight additional lighted Pickleball Courts was included in the review of the committee and the courts were supported by the Community and Recreation Services Advisory Commission. It was later decided to remove the courts from the bond package and look for other sources to fund this $500,000 project.
Construction of the additional courts adjacent to the existing courts will require the relocation of the sand volleyball courts at Community Park. Conservative estimated project completion would be August 2017.
Separately, over the years City Council approved the construction of a wide variety of Park and Recreation facilities including sports fields and courts, playgrounds, water features, dog parks, and open space. These facilities are a gathering place for all ages. During much of the year, the heat from the shade makes it difficult to fully enjoy our facilities. Equipment is hot to the touch, flooring too hot for bare feet, and without shade of any kind, there is no way to find respite other than leaving the facility and heading inside.
Shade structures may be constructed throughout the city at a cost of approximately $20,000 for a 30’x30′ and $40,000 for a 40’x40′. Staff will specifically analyze the needs citywide and recommend the best mix of structures to maximize the benefit from a $200,000 investment in shade. City Council unanimously approved the budget amendment to proceed.
Events & Meetings
Valley Metro RPTA Monthly Meeting
The Valley Metro RPTA Board unanimously voted to officially make an offer for an Internal Audit Manager.
Surprise Becomes a College Town!
Ottawa University and the City of Surprise announced on Friday, February 17 that Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ), a new residential university campus, will be opening Fall 2017 in Surprise, expanding upon the university’s 40-year presence in our state, making Surprise a university town, and bringing intercollegiate athletic programs to the West Valley.
OUAZ Surprise, 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza, will offer a full complement of academic, athletic and student activity programs including multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The university will be home to 19 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams, and will be working toward a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) designation. Upon award of the designation, OUAZ would be one of only four NAIA programs in Arizona.
Ottawa University President Kevin C. Eichner announced the university aims to enroll 250 students for its first semester of classes at the new campus, with a target of up to 3,000 residential students over 10 years, adding to its current 8,300 alumni roll in the Arizona market.
Ottawa University is a private, non-profit, Christian university that was founded in Ottawa, Kansas in 1865. The future 35-acre campus will be embedded within the Surprise City Center, integrating with the existing 250-acre City of Surprise Civic Center and Recreation campus. The school will also launch out of existing space within the Communiversity at the Civic Center, allowing students to avail themselves to the surrounding city amenities, including the Surprise Aquatic Center, Dream Catcher Park, the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex, and Surprise Stadium, as well as robust shopping and dining amenities.
Surprise Fine Art & Wine Festival
Despite the inclement weather, the Surprise Fine Art & Wine Festival took place this past weekend. Although there were a few cancellations, 67 artists participated. There were six wineries and a distillery as well as three musicians. There were approximately 1700 patrons on Friday and a few hundred the remainder of the days.
State of the City Address
In her message to residents, businesses, partners and volunteers on Wednesday, February 22, Mayor Sharon Wolcott demonstrated that when we work together in the spirit of community pride we enhance quality of life for all ages and establish a solid foundation for future generations. She cited examples of success in transportation, including the on-time completion of the Bell-Grand intersection improvements; public safety; job growth; and social-service support that have all improved quality of life in Surprise.
As part of the Surprise International initiative, Mayor Wolcott announced the creation of a cross-border task force to study innovations in the $100 billion health tourism industry and to explore whether Surprise can play a role in “setting a new standard in medical tourism delivery.” The task force will be comprised of Canadian and Arizonan industry partners, and will be co-chaired by Surprise Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic.
She reminded the audience that Surprise remains a growing community and that will increase the demands in maintaining a safe and vibrant city and cited the continued need to support transportation improvements, educational opportunities and securing space for future public safety locations, parks and open space.
Watch the video of the speech or read the transcript at www.surpriseaz.gov/sotc.
Mark Your Calendar
Mayor’s Welcome Back Lunch
Mayor Wolcott will be hosting the 15th Annual Mayor’s Welcome Back Luncheon to celebrate the return of the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers on Thursday, March 2 from 11 am – 1 pm. The event will take place at Surprise Stadium – Sanderson Ford 1st Base Concourse, located at 15930 N. Bullard Avenue.
Event admission will include a catered lunch provided by State 48 Brewery; 1 plaza level ticket to the Colorado Rockies vs. Kansas City Royals scheduled game; and a 15th anniversary commemorative gift. Guests will also have the opportunity to hear about the upcoming season from team staff. For more information, please contact the Community and Recreation Services office at 623.222.2000.
Surprise Police Explorers Host “Tip A Cop” Event
The Surprise Police Department Police Explorer Post 2236 will join forces with the staff at the local Outback Steakhouse Restaurant, located at 14225 W. Grand Avenue, in order to raise donations in support of the their growing program. The event will be held on Saturday, March 4 from 4 – 8 pm.
The explorers are inviting the public to join them at the event and help support their fund raising efforts during this “Tip-a-Cop” event. So, come meet some of the Explorers and enjoy some of your favorite food. Remember to bring your change to tip your “server” and make a donation/contribution to help the Explorers raise funds to support their growing program.
Click here to learn more information about Surprise Police Explorer Post 2236: http://ow.ly/VqYMc
Did You Know?
15th Annual Spring Training Season Starts This Weekend!
We are thrilled to kick off the 15th Annual Spring Training Season in Surprise! If you haven’t secured your tickets for the Kansas City Royals or Texas Rangers games, it’s not too late! The first game begins on February 25, at 1:05 pm, with a hometown match-up between the Royals and Rangers to support our local youth sports programs!
This season, there is something for everyone! Here are a few of the fun promotional event dates:
February 26 – KC Royals Surprise Recreation Campus Hall of Fame Inductees
March 2 – KC Royals Mascot “Slugger” visits Surprise Stadium
March 5 – Texas Rangers Surprise Recreation Campus Hall of Fame Inductees
March 12 – Ronald McDonald visits Surprise Stadium
March 25 – Budweiser Clydesdales visit Surprise Stadium
With craft brew all the rage these days… For $30 you have access to the Four Peaks Pavilion in right field, a catered meal and a beverage! Other options include the Boulevard Craft Brew tent and our local State 48 craft brew stand! New on the food menu includes grilled corn on the cob and the Triple Play- a hot dog inside a hamburger, wrapped in bacon!
For a complete game schedule and more, visit www.surprisespringtraining.com or call 623.222.2222.