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.
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.
Learn about Surprise’s water future. Councilman Hall sits down with Water Resource Management Director Terry Lowe and Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute at ASU, Sarah Porter. April is Water Awareness Month for the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
City staff presented Valley Metro’s Northwest Valley public transportation service model changes at Tuesday’s meeting. Beginning July 1, Valley Metro will discontinue the current Northwest Valley Dial-a-Ride service model to provide more service options and standardized regional transportation for seniors, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) eligible, and income-qualified riders. Three transportation options will be available to customers when the new model begins July 1: the Senior Bus, Paratransit Shared Ride and RideChoice Taxi Service.
Seniors who frequently visit the Surprise Senior Center, on average 3-5 days per week, can catch a ride on the city’s shared route Senior Bus. The Senior Bus will follow a dedicated route to the Senior Center and provide door-to-door pick-up and drop-off service; fare for the bus will remain $2 per one-way trip. The bus will be available Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding city holidays.
Paratransit Shared Ride is recommended for ADA certified customers, seniors and income-qualified general public who schedule rides for local medical and works trips greater than 7 miles and, generally, outside the city of Surprise. ADA certified riders may also use the service for medical and work trips anywhere within Maricopa County up to ¾ miles of bus service. Multiple vehicle options will be available for customers when booking their trips; the service contractor will schedule vehicles accordingly based on customer needs.
Customers booking Paratransit Shared Ride are required to schedule trips 1-14 days in advance; same day booking is not available. The service will operate daily 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; trip fares are $4 each way.
Similar to the current Dial-a-Ride program, RideChoice Taxi Service provides 24 hours per day, 365 days per year service for riders with the ability to self-book and choose from multiple service providers. Riders will be allotted 16 trips per month however customers needing more trips are able to work with city staff to review monthly trip allowances on an individual basis.
RideChoice trips are managed on a RideChoice card that must be renewed each month; unused trips do not carry over. Customers can choose to load money to the RideChoice card to pay for trips however cash and credit cards are still accepted. RideChoice accounts can be self-managed online and by smart phone. Fares are $3 per one-way trip for riders. Riders will be responsible for any fare amounts that exceed $21 (city’s match is up to $18 per trip).
Valley Metro will contact current Northwest Valley Dial-a-Ride customers directly to educate them on the changes to the program and the new options. In addition, Surprise staff and representatives from Valley Metro will schedule a public meeting at the Surprise Senior Center, 15832 N Hollyhock Street, in May to discuss the service models and answer questions.
Surprise will continue to share information about changes to Valley Metro’s Northwest Valley service model at www.surpriseaz.gov/transportation as it becomes available.
City Manager’s FY18 Recommended Budget Discussion
City Manager Bob Wingenroth presented a $336.5 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Recommended Budget to City Council. 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 is available at www.surpriseaz.gov/budget. Council is scheduled to vote on the final budget in June.
City Council Meeting
Reappointment of Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Board Members
City Council unanimously approved the re-appointment of Kenneth Broadfoot as the citizen member and Jim Hayden as Chairman of the Public Safety Retirement System Local Board, both serving a four year term expiring April 18, 2021.
Events & Meetings
Good Friday Breakfast
I joined hundreds of other leaders in the West Valley for the Good Friday Breakfast on Friday, April 14 at the WigWam. Speakers included Adam Agee, lead singer from Audio Adrenaline and Pastor Greg Laurie from Harvest Christian Fellowship, one of the largest churches in the United States. Pastor Laurie will also be leading Harvest America in Phoenix on June 11 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Milam Glass Groundbreaking
Vice Mayor Todd Tande, Councilman Ken Remley and I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Milam Glass on Monday, April 17. Milam Glass is developing a 22,000 square foot facility in the city’s industrial district, which will become their new company headquarters and employ approximately 50 people. The company has been in business since 1969. It started as a three-man residential glass company, and by 1977, it had become a storefront business and a leader in the commercial glass industry.
Council Conversation Taping
On Tuesday, April 18, I taped a new Council Conversation on water which will be aired on Surprise TV beginning next week. As part of the conversation, I interviewed Water Resource Management Director Terry Lowe and Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute at ASU, Sarah Porter. April is Water Awareness Month for the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Watch the episode…
Mark Your Calendar
WHAM Recycle Arts Festival
WHAM Art Association is hosting their Recycle Arts Fest: Exhibit & Fashion Show on Saturday, April 22 at WHAM Community Art Center, 16560 N. Dysart Road. The free neighborhood event is scheduled from 4 – 9 p.m. and will include a Recycle Arts Exhibit and Eco Styles Fashion Show, a creative art display that underscores the possibilities of working with reusable post-consumer materials.
Artists of all ages and talents are invited to participate. Enjoy food, music, free activities for kids and the spirit of community and collaboration at the Recycle Arts Fest– where creative expression goes green! If you are interested in becoming involved with the 2017 Recycle Arts Fest send an email to email@example.com.
Surprise Police Explorers Fundraising Event
The Surprise Police Explorer Post #2236 is partnering with a local business, Chipotle, for an upcoming fund raising event. The event will be held at Chipotle, 13869 West Bell Road in Surprise, on Friday, April 28 from 5 – 9 p.m.
Please remember to bring in a copy of the flyer (view flyer) or show a copy of the flyer on your smart phone or other electronic device in order to help the Explorers raise money (50% of the proceeds will be donated to the Surprise Police Explorers).
Chipotle is located on the southeast corner of Litchfield Road and Bell Road in Surprise.
Movie Night at Surprise Stadium
The City of Surprise presents Movie Night at Surprise Stadium featuring The Secret Life of Pets – rated PG on Saturday, April 29. This event is sponsored by Coulter Nissan, and admission is free. Bring your blankets and pillows, stretch out on the stadium grass and enjoy! Gates will open at 6 p.m. The movie will begin at 7 p.m.
The stadium food and beverage policy is in effect. Ice chests and lawn chairs are not permitted. For more information, please contact City of Surprise Community and Recreation Services at 623.222.2000 or visit www.surpriseaz.gov/specialevents.
Did You Know?
Surprise Sundancers Award Scholarships to West Valley Students
Surprise Sundancers, the official Surprise Recreation Campus Spring Training volunteer organization, with the support of the Arizona Community Foundation, awarded $135,000 in scholarships to west valley students.
The scholarship recipients were awarded the following:
10 applicants each receiving $5,000
19 applicants each receiving $2,500
25 applicants each receiving $1,500
The Surprise Sundancers provide scholarships to graduating students from high schools in Surprise, El Mirage, Youngtown or Wickenburg. Applicants must demonstrate high engagement in the community, be a participating student athlete, and have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.
The Surprise Sundancers will present the scholarship funds to the technical school or college on behalf of the student.
The Sundancers are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with over 800 members. They provide volunteer services during Spring Training and other city special events. Each spring training season, the Surprise Sundancers host an annual Charity Game in which all proceeds collected from tickets sales, merchandise, 50/50 raffle, concessions and programs are contributed to the Surprise Sundancers Scholarship Program as well as Surprise/Northwest Valley youth related programs and projects.
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.
Members of the Surprise Youth Council (SYC) provided an update on their recent activities. Some of their recent activities include:
Delivering a 7-part peer-to-peer workshop on healthy relationships and dating violence at local high schools
Hosting a free SAT prep class
Building community partnerships to provide greater mental and emotional health resources at local high schools
Conducting a hydration drive for people experiencing homelessness in and around the Surprise area
Developed a youth blog, and hosted a signature teen party on the 4th floor of the City Hall parking garage, with more than 225 high school student attendees.
The SYC is now wrapping up their most recent recruitment period and expects to add nearly a dozen new members with new ideas and a passion for community engagement. The Council will continue to prioritize projects and initiatives that have the potential for impact reaching far beyond its own membership. Council members hope that these efforts will raise the quality of life for local youth and solidify Surprise’s reputation as a truly innovative City.
City of Surprise Utility Billing Update
Assistance Finance Director Andrea Davis provided a utility billing update. Last spring, City Council unanimously voted to take over utility billing. In doing so, a new Customer Service/Utility Billing division was created within the Finance Department that generated 16 new full-time positions and utilized 6 current positions. Since November 1, when utility billing in the city began, call volumes have significantly decreased, as have average call wait times. Resolved utility billings issues have created and increase of $141,000 in monthly revenue for an annual increase of $1.7 million.
Non-residential Stormwater customers will be receiving their annual bill for the stormwater utility program that commenced in November 2016. Approximately 1,100 bills for the period November 2016 through June 2016 will be sent out in April generating $1 million in stormwater utility revenue.
City Council Meeting
Recognition of Valley Vista High School Girls Basketball Champions
City Council recognized the Valley Vista High School Girls 6A State Champion Basketball team at our Tuesday meeting. The team is led by coach Rachel Matakas who was named 6A Coach of the Year! Teammates told us that they won because they worked hard on building a true team, one that was committed to each other and understanding of each other- on and off the court. Congratulations to the team on a 26-6 winning year and a state title!
Approval of New Commission Members
City Council unanimously approved the appointments of Patrick Duffy to fill a vacancy on the Municipal Property Corporation with a term expiration of June 30, 2021 and Sally Wilson-Johnson to fill a vacancy on the Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission to complete the remainder of a term ending on June 30, 2019 due to resignation.
Central Arizona Project (CAP) and Water in Arizona
The Colorado River system has experienced drought conditions for nearly 16 years, resulting in the water level of Lake Mead to continue to be at historic lows. Water levels in Lake Mead determine how much Colorado River water Arizona receives on an annual basis. A large portion of Surprise’s renewable water supply is from the Colorado River, delivered by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) system. The Colorado River supply is of the upmost importance and it has a direct impact on the City’s water portfolio and future.
CAP Board President Lisa Atkins provided Council an update on the state of the Colorado River System, including Lake Mead and CAP. She provided a synopsis of the CAP system and the importance the CAP has on the state’s economy. A 2014 Arizona State University study found that the CAP system is responsible for 1.6 million jobs and over $1 trillion of Arizona’s gross state product. Ms. Atkins addressed the probability of water shortages on the Colorado River now and into the near future. She also identified programs that CAP, the state, and others have partnered on to ensure water levels in Lake Mead remain above shortage triggers. There is a 34% probability that a water shortage could be declared in 2018, with a similar likelihood one could occur in 2019. Shortages on the Colorado River will not affect Surprise’s water supply, but they will have direct effect on the cost to deliver water to Surprise.
Events & Meetings
Investiture of Associate Judge Catherine A. Gaudreau
I was honored to attend the investiture of Associate Judge Catherine A. Gaudreau on Wednesday, March 29 in the City Council Chambers. Judge Gaudreau was publicly sworn in by Judge Louis F. Dominguez and honored by her former colleagues prior to a reception in her honor.
The Park @ Surprise Groundbreaking
Vice Mayor Todd Tande, Councilman Ken Remley and I joined an excited crowd on Thursday, March 30 at the groundbreaking of The Park @ Surprise which will be located on Parkwood Drive. The Park will produce 40 new jobs and consist of 135 apartments and 20 casitas spread out over 8.5 acres with a bistro, movie theater and much more on the property.
Special City Council Meeting
City Council held a special meeting on Monday, April 3 at the Heritage Club at Marley Park. Discussion included a five-year financial forecast, possible future general obligation bond election, and consideration of our gateway and key asset areas. This was a no-vote meeting, discussion only about possible future items and issues facing our city.
Rancho Mercado Groundbreaking
William Lyon Homes hosted a groundbreaking on Tuesday, April 4. The development is located in a six square-mile area along Happy Valley Road (in the area of 147th Avenue & Jomax). The development plans to provide a variety of affordable housing options including single-family and multi-family residential, as well as retail and commercial services and much more. Rancho Mercado’s projected population is more than 12,000 residents at build out.
Mark Your Calendar
Household Hazardous Waste Collection
The city’s next Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event is Saturday, April 8. This event is free and for Surprise residents only. Please bring a driver’s license or utility bill to show proof of a Surprise home address.
Drop-off is at the Public Works Maintenance Yard, 13433 W. Foxfire Drive (from Bell Road, turn north on Dysart and follow signs to the entrance off Foxfire), from 8 a.m. – Noon. For more information, check out www.surpriseaz.gov/HHWevent or call 623.222.6000.
Taste of Surprise
The Rotary Club of Surprise will host the Taste of Surprise event at Surprise Stadium on Saturday, April 8 from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. The event will showcase some the West Valley’s best foods and include a beer and wine garden and live entertainment. This event is designed to be fun for the entire family!
Event proceeds will benefit five local non-profits including One Step Beyond, Surprise Youth Foundation, Benevilla, A New Leaf, and Rotary Club of Surprise Community Foundation. Tickets can be purchased at the event or online. To purchase tickets online, please visit http://www.tasteofsurprise.com/purchase-tickets.html.
Second Sundays in the Park – This Sunday!
The City of Surprise continues the “Second Sundays in the Park” concert series on Sunday, April 9 with blues and R&B music performed by “Notes from Neptune” from 2-4 p.m. in the center of the Surprise Community Park.
The entertainment is free. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic or purchase food from the onsite vendors and enjoy the live entertainment. Surprise Community Park is located at 15953 N. Bullard Avenue. For more information, please contact the Community & Recreation Services Office at 623.222.2000 or online at www.surpriseaz.gov/specialevents.
Did You Know?
2017 Surprise Retail Survey
There is still time to complete our 2017 Surprise Retail Survey! Please complete the survey to tell us what establishments you want in Surprise and to vote for your local favorites! The survey is open through April 9 and is available online at www.surpriseaz.gov/retailsurvey.
Brigadier General Brook Leonard provided an update on the activities at Luke AFB. The presentation began with the heritage of the base and how it received the name. Luke AFB is named after 2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr who was a Phoenix native, a Fighter Ace and a Medal of Honor Recipient.
Thunderbolt Nation is comprised of four different locations including Luke AFB. There are over 5,600 people that make up the 56th Fighter Wing. Approximately 10,000 people are on and off Luke AFB each day. Lockheed Martin employs 400 people as part of the F-35 program. Between the 56th Fighter Wing and the 944th Fighter Wing, they make up 66% of the world’s F-35 pilots, 97% of the United States Air Force (USAF) F-16 pilots and 100% of the USAF F-15 pilots.
Other items of discussion included the Barry M. Goldwater Range, recent contributions and wins including the Luke Valley Leadership and Development Center, mission assurance programs and the significant economic impact of Luke AFB.
Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
The Council had its fourth work session related to the upcoming FY2018 budget on Tuesday afternoon. The focus was capital improvements, including the projects, their priorities, and sources available to fund them.
The sources used to fund capital improvements were discussed first. For FY2017, the sources included $4.7 million in revenue, $14.2 million in fund balance, and $34.1 million in transfers from operating funds for a total of $53.0 million. The revenues are made up largely of construction sales tax, which is a volatile source that historically has seen various increases and declines in collection dependent on the development within the City. Fund balance is predominately used to fund projects from the prior fiscal year and does not represent a viable source for new projects. The transfers from the operating funds were largely one time in nature and are dependent on future operational savings.
The projects were then broken down into seven categories and prioritized within each. The categories included Public Safety, Transportation, Parks and Recreation, General Government, Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater. The projects were prioritized based on current planning documents, expected development within the City, and staff input. The Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater categories are all supported largely by the City-run utilities associated with them. The decision to fund these projects will be tied to discussions about future anticipated rates. While the Public Safety, Transportation, Parks and Recreation, and General Government categories do include some specific funding sources, they are all dependent on construction sales tax received in the General Capital Fund and operational savings within the General Fund. Discussions on these categories included utilizing the current Public Safety Master Plan and upcoming Development Impact Fee processes to refine the need, location, and timing of projects; identifying projects that could be phased to allow “biting off” smaller sections for funding; planning of projects to leverage partnership opportunities; and focusing on ways to improve and properly maintain the current facilities to maximize their value to the community.
The budget discussions will continue with the presentation of the City Manager’s Recommended Budget on April 18 and culminate in the June adoption of the FY2018 budget that will become effective July 1, 2017.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Lions Clubs International, Mayor Sharon Wolcott recognized the Sun Village and Surprise Lions Clubs with a Lions Clubs Centennial Celebration Proclamation. Lions Clubs is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. The clubs are comprised of volunteers who dedicate their time to the betterment of our communities and aiding those in need. We appreciate what the organization continues to do locally! Thank you!
Friends of the Libraries Annual Spring Contest
Friends of the Surprise Libraries has been supporting art and literacy since 2006 with their annual book mark contest! As in years past, 6th, 7th & 8th grade students from local public, charter and home schools within the Greater Surprise area participated. The students created their bookmarks and submitted them to a panel of judges. This year, Friends of the Surprise Libraries partnered with the City of Surprise Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission to judge the entries and to present the awards at the City Council meeting. The judges, including members of the Commission, local managers from Wells Fargo Bank and volunteers from Friends of the Surprise Libraries, selected six award winners from more than 250 entries. Also new this year – all of the bookmark entries will be displayed in the Northwest Regional Library in Surprise beginning today in the children’s area. The public is welcome to come in and view the entries.
Minor General Plan Amendment to the General Plan 2035 & CampCorp Rezoning
The two projects known as the Sun City West General Plan Amendment and CampCorp rezoning work together to provide a means for businesses in an isolated part of the city to expand and provide employment opportunities for the residents of Surprise.
These nearly 76 acres of land are located generally north of the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Bell Road. When this area was annexed in 1996, many of the facilities in the area were operating as manufacturing facilities for a home building complex. Due to robust home sales and the build out of the community, most of the facilities ceased operations and other industrial uses moved in. In the case of CampCorp, the use of manufacturing building product never ceased.
The General Plan Map revision changes the Character Area for this land from Commerce and Office to Employment. This change allows existing business in this area, now considered legal nonconforming (grandfathered), to be legal conforming. This status allows these businesses to expand their business model and utilize the parcels to their full potential.
CampCorp is the first rezone, of about 25 acres, from Regional Commercial to General Industrial. This rezone will allow expansion as well as utilizing the existing railroad spur at this site to bring raw material into the facility for processing while reducing truck traffic on Bell Road. CampCorp Plans for this parcel include expanding from simply commercial and industrial structures to the residential construction market.
Both items were unanimously approved by City Council.
Mark Your Calendar
Public Meetings on Proposed Sign Code Changes
The city is in the process of updating its Sign Code and wants your input! The proposed code aims to balance business needs with aesthetics, while meeting the requirements of law.
There is one public meeting remaining where you can learn more and give your feedback on the proposed changes:
The Surprise Pops Band will present “A Touch of Class” featuring light classics at their next performance on Sunday, April 2. The concert will begin at 3 p.m. at the Valley Vista Performing Arts Center, 15550 N. Parkview Place.
Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item donation to benefit the Valley View Community Food Bank.
Match Your Skills for Meaningful Volunteer Opportunities
If you’re looking for meaningful ways to use your talents to make a difference, please considering attending an upcoming free Experience Matters information session on April 12.
Experience Matters is an organization that connects talented, experienced people with nonprofits. Experience Matters Talent Engagement Manager Cathy Gaudio will provide information on the organization and help you match your passion and skills with compelling new volunteer or stipend paid opportunities designed specifically for experienced adults.
The session will be held Wednesday, April 12, 10-11:30 a.m. at Surprise City Hall – Conference Room 150, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza. For more information or to register, contact Ruby Sitea at 623.222.3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please register early since space is limited.
Did You Know?
Free Block Party Trailer Rentals Available
Surprise offers free rentals of its Block Party Trailer, and we’ll even deliver it to you! The block party trailer includes chairs, tables, coolers, canopy tents, sports equipment, name tags, garbage bags, a PA-stereo system, lighting and a generator.
You can add some extra excitement by requesting a Block Party Kit! The kit includes flyers and posters to help spread the word about your party and a $75 reimbursement to a local grocery store to assist with refreshment costs. Plus, the city will cover up to $125 towards the cost of renting a bouncy house! For more information, please call Neighborhood Services at (623)222-3241 to request an application.
City of Surprise to become university town with classes beginning August 2017
Ottawa University and the City of Surprise today announced that Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ), a new residential university campus, will be opening Fall 2017 in Surprise, Ariz., expanding upon the university’s 40-year presence in the Valley of the Sun, 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 primarily for traditional-age college students, 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. The school mascot is a grey wolf and the sports teams are called the Spirit.
At a dedication event this morning, 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 has expanded strategically during the last 151 years and we are poised for significant growth and exceptional student outcomes here in Surprise,” said Eichner. “We are grateful the City of Surprise shares our vision for delivering a new model for education with an emphasis on educating and developing the whole person, and creating work-ready graduates who are prepared to be successful on the job from day one.”
Ottawa University is a private, non-profit, Christian university that was founded in Ottawa, Kansas in 1865. The university has been operating in Arizona since 1977 with campuses in Phoenix and Queen Creek, and has been serving the Surprise community for eight years at its current location as part of the Communiversity at Surprise, a partnership of higher education institutions. Historically, the Surprise campus has primarily served adult learners, which it will continue to do; the traditional-age student is a new market for OUAZ.
The future 35-acre OUAZ 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 Civic Center, allowing students to avail themselves of 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 is a college town! Our graduating high school seniors now have the option to pursue a college degree in their hometown,” said Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “This partnership keeps our promise to residents; after all, university campus development is part of the City Council’s Strategic Plan and we could not ask for a better partner than Ottawa University. This is a storied educational institution with more than 150 years of success and a 40-year foothold in the Phoenix market. They know us and we know them!”
Expansion plans for the Surprise campus include development of residential housing, an indoor activity center, dining and conference space, and new athletic fields, including a stadium with artificial turf for football and soccer.
OUAZ innovates a unique approach to education. In addition to traditional academic degree and athletics programs, the University places significant emphasis on evolving all dimensions of the student: intellectual, spiritual, physical, artistic, financial, familial and vocational. A key delivery vehicle for this approach is OUAZ’s Adawe Center, which pairs a life coach with each student upon registration who will remain with the student throughout their enrollment at the university, helping them identify and pursue their degree and life paths, and preparing them to pursue their desired vocation upon graduation. Another distinctive element of OUAZ is “personal growth days.” No classes are held on Wednesdays so students may take part in chapel, attend the numerous personal and professional skills development conferences and workshops offered throughout the year, take part in volunteer or service activities, and share a meal together with faculty and staff.
OUAZ’s unique FlexTerm academic calendar offers a 21st century approach to enable students to learn how and when they want to learn. Courses are offered in formats that run for four weeks, eight weeks, or in more traditional semester-length time frames. With this format, students will typically take just two courses at a time, allowing them the benefit of concentration vs. fragmentation (when trying to balance four or five courses in a traditional semester system). The OUAZ FlexTerm calendar encourages students to tailor their educational experience and investment to go deeper into their studies while also interspersing their classroom learning with internships, service learning, international and cross-cultural study programs. It also allows students to accelerate toward graduation in less than four years and even to combine master’s degree studies within their educational plan, enabling OUAZ graduates to enter the job market with a combination of degrees.
OUAZ will be introducing the Ottawa Alliance for Quality Christian Education, a network of not-for-profit mission-based organizations that are interested in supporting a Christ-inspired community of grace throughout their educational institutions and the world. The Alliance aims to reduce the cost of Christian education, increase enrollment at Christ-focused schools and encourage enrollment at Ottawa University. Scholarships for students; faculty, staff and board members; and, faculty spouses and student parents will be available.
Of particular interest for strong academic and service-minded students will be the prestigious Founders and Pioneer Scholarships targeted for well-qualified and motivated students who will serve with OUAZ to shape student culture at the new campus. A limited number of these scholars can begin serving the institution this spring by working with prospective students and their families.
“We are a steadfastly Christian, positively open and inclusive university empowering students from around the world and every background to become ‘whole’ people, to develop their passions and abilities, and be ready to face the world when they graduate from OUAZ,” said Eichner. “We are proud to be bringing a full-fledged residential university experience to Surprise and to our future students.”
The OUAZ leadership team includes: Dr. Dennis J. Tyner, Provost; Keith Johnson, Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Amy Hogan, Dean of Instruction; Brandon Fowler, Dean of Student Experience; Dr. David Barnes, Executive Director of University Advancement, Arizona; and Kevin Steele, Director of Athletics.
Additional faculty hires are underway, with a number of key athletic coaching positions already filled. Student recruitment for August enrollment has begun.
Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and opening inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution serving more than 4,000 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz. (opening Fall 2017), and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Phoenix, Queen Creek and Surprise, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; Jeffersonville, Ind.; and online. For more information, visit www.ottawa.edu.
The City of Surprise Fiscal Year 2018 budget-building process begins at the City Council’s Work Session, 4 p.m., Tuesday, February 7.
This is the first in a series of presentations regarding the overall development of the budget. This presentation will give a general overview of the city’s budget and review the calendar for the upcoming process. Emphasis will be placed on the areas of policy making that the City Council has available to impact the FY2018 budget.
The presentation will also discuss outside issues that will influence the outcomes of the budget process.
Future Council Work Sessions and Regular Meetings will include additional presentations related to budget development, including topics on Capital Improvement Projects and continued operating budget discussions.
This process will result in the adoption of a balanced FY2018 budget in June. FY2018 begins July 1, 2017.
Council agendas are posted online at http://agenda.surpriseaz.gov/ at least two business days before the meeting. City Council meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Work Sessions are at 4 p.m. and Regular Meetings begin at 6 p.m. All meetings are carried live on Surprise TV for cable customers and streamed online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseTV.
Commuters were able to cruise over the new Bell Road Bridge at Grand Avenue on their way to work this morning, as the Arizona Department of Transportation officially opened the road at 12:15 a.m.
The city of Surprise hosted a pre-celebration on Monday in the Surprise Marketplace parking lot to officially kick-off the 2016 Holiday Season and to thank the area businesses, residents and drivers for their patience during the seven-month closure of Bell Road.
“To the customers that continued to shop these businesses, thank you for realizing that they were ALWAYS open and for supporting them,” said Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “And to those that took a different commute during the closure, I invite you to come back to this area. No more stopping for the train and three new businesses have opened since the closure began in April, with two others opening this fall. Come check them out!”
Representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce also spoke at the event that was attended by neighboring elected officials, residents and local businesses.
As a “thank you” for supporting the businesses around the Bell and Grand intersection attendees received Surprise shopping bags, filled with vendor coupons and promotional items. A perfect reminder to Shop Surprise this holiday season!
The Bell Road closure was part of the ADOT US 60 (Grand Ave) and Bell Road Interchange project which began in January 2016. By closing Bell for 7 months, construction delays were avoided during two Spring Training Seasons and this year’s holiday shopping season.
The entire Bell-Grand project, including the ramps connecting Grand Avenue to Bell Road, is scheduled to be complete prior to Spring Training 2017 at the Surprise Recreation Campus. In the meantime, your Bell to Grand Avenue access remains on Dysart Road, east of the intersection and Bell to Reems to Grand, west of the intersection.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) continues to issue weekly project updates for the Bell Road/Grand Avenue bridge project. Bell Road will remain closed between 134th Avenue and West Point Parkway until November 22, pending weather conditions and other unforeseen factors that may affect the target date.
Full closure scheduled on Grand Avenue:
US 60 (Grand Avenue) closed in both directions between Dysart and Litchfield roads from 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, to 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, to paint the Bell Road bridge. Traffic will be detoured at Dysart and Litchfield roads.
Work continues this week on the following:
Installation of barrier and lighting on new bridge.
Paving the east side of the new bridge.
Building the new median ramps from Grand Avenue to Bell Road.
**City, County, and State law enforcement will be patrolling the area. Please obey all traffic signage and posted speed limits.**
As always, please allow plenty of time and observe all traffic control signs and barricades. Thank you again for your patience during this project. For more information, please visit the project website at www.azdot.gov/bellandgrand or you can contact ADOT’s project hotline at 855.712.8530, press option #1.
City Council Work Session
FY2016 Financial Status Report
Assistant Finance Director Jared Askelson presented the 2016 fiscal year end Financial Status Report. Local sales tax exceeded original estimates by $400,000; state shared revenue increased by $200,000 due to stronger than expected vehicle license tax; charges for services exceeded original estimates by $1.4 million due to increases from spring training, community development, and public works revenues. Due to the approximate increase in revenues and decrease in expenditures, the estimated General Fund balance is $3.3 million higher than originally anticipated.
City Council Meeting
Neighborhood Grant Program Recommendations
Human Service and Community Vitality Director Seth Dyson provided the Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships & Grants funding recommendations for the Neighborhood Grant Program. The Committee recommended funding for Marley Park (Veteran Commemorative Plaza) for $3,000 and Sanalina HOA (water conservation and playground equipment) for $3,000. The City Council unanimously approved funding.
The City of Surprise is preparing activities to celebrate the reopening of Bell Road and thank local businesses, residents and visitors for their patience during the closure. The activities are scheduled for November 21. Specific event details will be available soon. Arizona Department of Transportation announced earlier last month that the target date for the reopening is scheduled for November 22.
The Bell Road/Grand Avenue corridor is still an active construction zone. While Bell Road will reopen on November 22, Grand Avenue will be inaccessible from the Bell Road bridge and vice versa. A detour route will be in place to allow for connection between those roads until project completion in early 2017.
Events & Meetings
New Real Estate Brokerage Office – Ribbon Cutting
Council Members Jim Hayden, Todd Tande and I joined members of the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce for the ribbon cutting celebration of the Leolinda Realty office in Sun City Grand on Wednesday, October 26. We wish her the best in her new office!
Torque Trends Unveils Electric City Truck
President and CEO of Torque Trends, located in the AZ TechCelerator, hosted the unveiling of the converted City of Surprise Ford F-150 work truck to an electric engine on Wednesday, October 26. The conversion allows the truck to travel between 50 to 75 miles before requiring a charge, therefore saving money and reducing our carbon footprint.
Annual Legislative Breakfast Meeting
City Council Members John Williams, Rachel Villanueva, Jim Hayden and I joined staff, state legislators and local business leaders at our Annual Legislative Breakfast on Thursday, October 27 at Surprise Stadium. This year, the focus was on economic development partnerships, our Veteran Job Club success, and our upcoming legislative agenda. The state legislators included State Senators Don Shooter and Judy Burges as well as State Representative David Livingston.
GAIN Night was held on Saturday, October 29 at 8-Acre Park, and the event had record-breaking attendance. Representatives from public safety and city management were present, and the Water Resource Management Department provided a demonstration on solid waste and water resources.
Mark Your Calendar
Surprise Super Swap Meet
The fall Surprise Super Swap Meet is scheduled for Saturday, November 19. More than 70 vendors will be onsite at the popular community-wide swap meet, sponsored by the Surprise Senior Center Site Council. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Surprise Aquatic Center parking lot, 15831 N. Bullard Ave.
Annual Surprise Party
The Annual Surprise Party is scheduled for Friday, December 2 from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 3 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Surprise Recreation Campus, located at 15850 N. Bullard Avenue. This free event features fun for the entire family. For more information, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/specialevents.
Did You Know?
Fitch Upgrades Surprise Revenue Bond and Long Term Default Ratings
City Manager Bob Wingenroth announced Tuesday night that Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” nationally recognized credit rating agencies, has upgraded the city’s Excise Tax and State-Shared Revenue Obligation (ETRO) bond rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’. A city’s credit rating is important due to its impact on interest rates in the bond market. A better rating means the city can sell bonds to finance capital projects and pay a lower interest rate to the buyer.
Fitch stated the “rating reflects a solid coverage cushion and expectations for strong pledged revenue growth.”
Fitch also upgraded the city’s Long-Term Issuer Default rating (IDR) to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.
In reviewing the city’s economic base Fitch noted, “The city’s 2015 population of 128,422 has realized a rapid 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past 15 years and its median household income exceeds that of the U.S. by 16%.”
In commenting on the city’s operating performance Fitch reported, “Fitch expects Surprise to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic downturns based on its ample revenue raising capacity and solid financial flexibility, supplemented by its ample reserves.”