Surprise City Council with Arizona Superintendent of the Year Dr. Gail Pletnick

February 5, 2016 • Newsletter

City Council Work Session

Luke Air Force Base Update

Rusty Mitchell, Director of Community Initiatives for Luke Air Force Base, provided an update on activities at the base. Luke AFB is a major contributor to our local economy with an approximate economic impact of $2 billion per year. The 944th Fighter Wing has over 1,350 personnel; however, Luke AFB has 3,600 active duty personnel, 600 reserves, 800 civilians, 300 pilots and 300 DCCs (Lockheed Martin) which will soon increase to 2,000. In addition, there are 30,000 retirees within 50 miles receiving $55 million in retiree payments on an annual basis. Their annual payroll totals $448 million and initiates contracts totaling $52.7 million.

To build an F-16 pilot, one requires 305 hours of academic studies, 148 training days, 110 student sorties, 54 simulator events which takes approximately 8 months to complete. To build an F-35 pilot, one requires 360 hours of academic studies, 105 training days, 18 student sorties, 42 simulator events which takes approximately 5 months to complete.

US 60 (Grand Avenue) and Bell Road Weekly Project Update

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has issued a project update for the Grand Avenue/Bell Road Interchange Project, which includes upcoming traffic restrictions and a schedule of on-site activities for the week of February 8.

The update is as follows:

The Grand Avenue/Bell Road Interchange Project is using the design-build contracting method, which provides flexibility while the contractor’s designers work side-by-side with the construction team to deliver an improved connection between the two roadways. The project is scheduled to be completed over the next 14 months (in spring 2017).

Utility relocation work in the area, mostly during overnight hours, is already under way.

In order to reduce the project’s length and lessen the overall impacts of construction, ADOT has worked with the city of Surprise and local businesses to schedule a full closure of Bell Road near Grand Avenue. The full closure will allow Bell Road to be reconstructed as an overpass traveling over Grand Avenue and the parallel railroad tracks, providing a significant improvement for traffic flow.

The preliminary activities below are preparing the team for the April 1 Bell Road closure.

Schedule of On-site Activities*

Continued work to remove existing Grand Avenue median:

  • remove asphalt pavement,
  • excavate and haul away the median and roadway materials,
  • modify the traffic signal at Town Center Drive/Bell Grande Drive, and
  • work on Saturday Feb. 13 to prepare roadway for paving.

What to Expect > Traffic Restrictions*

Eastbound and westbound lane restrictions on Grand Avenue continue between just north of Dysart Road and Litchfield Road.?The left turn lanes in both directions will be narrowed to one lane (instead of two) at Bell Road and Grand Avenue. This will be a 24/7 set up through the week of Feb. 15.

*schedule subject to change based on design schedule, weather, or unforeseen conditions

Stay Informed – Keep In Touch

For more information or if you have questions:

ADOT’s project hotline: (855) 712-8530, press option #1
Project email:
Project website:
Media inquiries: (800) 949-8057; email:

Bell Road/Grand Avenue Business Outreach

Director of Economic Development Jeanine Jerkovic made City Council aware of her department’s reprioritization due to the upcoming Bell Road/Grand Avenue interchange project. To help the businesses that will be impacted by the Bell Road closure, the city will focus on the Bridge Buddy Program and a Shop Local promotion.

As part of the plan to mitigate the construction impact, the city, in partnership with the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce, has co-authored “Getting Your Business Across the Finish Line” brochures and will be instituting several communications initiatives.

City Council Meeting

Community Acknowledgement

City Manager Bob Wingenroth and City Council acknowledged Dr. Gail Pletnick, Superintendent of Dysart Unified School District, on Tuesday evening. Dr. Pletnick was selected as Arizona’s Superintendent of the Year, and she will serve as the Arizona representative to the American Association of School Administrator’s (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year Program.

Surprise City Council with Arizona Superintendent of the Year Dr. Gail Pletnick
The Surprise City Council recognized Dr. Gail Pletnick for her achievement as Arizona Superintendent of the Year at their Feb. 2 meeting.

Under Dr. Pletnick’s leadership, Dysart Unified School District has earned a national reputation for its 21st Century learning environment and for its consistent support of a digital transformation that continues to change teaching and learning. Congratulations, Dr. Pletnick. We are proud of you!

Operating Revenue Sources for FY2017

City Council began discussing the fiscal year 2017 budget that will begin on July 1, 2016. The focus was on General Fund operating sources, which total $96.9 million for the current fiscal year. Key issues included proposed legislation, the economy, and choices that we have available at the local level.

Proposed legislation is currently being reviewed at the state level that puts $6.8 million of the City’s current residential rental and contracting sales taxes at risk. The passage of this legislation would potentially result in service reductions locally. Historically, periods of growth lasting seven to ten years have been followed by recessionary periods of reduced growth or economic decline. Our economy has seen steady growth over the last five years, so the City will need to begin planning for this eventual reduction. Future discussion will look at creating an operating surplus to help minimize future service reductions.

Revenue sources were also reviewed to clarify which areas can be directly impacted by the Council’s decisions on rates and policies. Timelines on when and how decisions on rates and policies can be made was also discussed. City Council will be prepared to discuss balancing available resources with service needs, and be aware of how their decisions can affect each side of that balance.

The budget discussion will continue at each Council meeting through June, culminating in the Council adoption of the FY2017 budget. Budget presentations will be available following the City Council Work Session or Regular Meeting at which they are presented on our budget webpage.

Events & Meetings

Lunchtime Theater

I attended the Theater Works production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” on Thursday, January 28. There were back-to-back shows held at the West Valley Arts Headquarters with approximately 65 people in attendance. This show was a group of vignettes depicting love at different stages of life. It was a musical with fantastic voices and great comedy. Everyone could relate.

West Valley Council Mixer

Vice Mayor Jim Biundo, Councilmembers Todd Tande, Rachel Villanueva, Roland Winters and I attended the 2nd West Valley Council to Council Mixer at Rio Vista Recreation Center on Thursday, January 28. Councilwoman Villanueva spearheaded the first mixer which was held at Surprise Stadium as a way to better get know our fellow West Valley Councilmembers, share ideas, update each other on things occurring in our city and just network. Councilmembers from Peoria, Glendale, Tolleson, and Avondale were also present.

Surprise POPS Band Concert

Several Councilmembers and I attended the Surprise POPS band on Saturday, January 30 at the Valley Vista Performing Arts Center. Over 1,000 people attended and listened to the roaring 20’s concert.

Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission Meeting

I attended the Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission meeting on Monday, February 1. The agenda included discussion on the upcoming bus tour in partnership with Benevilla, the baseball bat decorating context, the purchase of a potential art piece and much more.

Bell Road/Grand Avenue Road Show

I continue to meet with the District 5 HOAs and businesses with city staff and ADOT representatives to discuss the upcoming Bell Road/Grand Avenue interchange project. This week, we met with Chaparral Winds Retirement Community staff, provided them an update on the construction project and answered their questions and concerns.

Mark Your Calendar

Art Show @ Benevilla

Benevilla’s Annual ‘Love of the Arts’ exhibition show begins Friday, February 5 through March 2 at Birt’s Bistro, 16752 N. Greasewood Street. All artwork is created by members from Benevilla’s Life Enrichment Day Programs in various mediums.

Second Sundays in the Park

The City continues its “Second Sundays in the Park” concert series on Friday, February 14 from 2 until 4 pm. This free family event will take place in the center of the Surprise Community Park, 15953 N. Bullard Avenue, and will feature live music from Behind the Badge.

Public Art Bus Tour

On February 18, the Surprise Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission and Benevilla are joining together to offer a free public art bus tour. Tour participants will visit art locations such as WHAM Art Gallery, Arts HQ and City Hall; they will also view public art pieces.

The tour will begin at 9 a.m. at Benevilla, located at 16752 N. Greasewood Street, and will end at the same location at 12 noon. Space is limited so please reserve your spot by February 11. Reservations can be made by calling Fiona Falbo at 623.584.4999.

At the conclusion of the bus tour, there will be an option to enjoy lunch at Birt’s Bistro on Benevilla’s campus. The lunch package is $15 per person.

Surprise Stadium to Host Two Collegiate Baseball Tournaments

College Baseball returns to the Surprise Recreation Campus – Campus of Champions with two NCAA collegiate baseball tournaments: the Surprise Spring Training College Baseball Classic (Feb. 19-22) and the BIG 12 – PAC 12 Spring Training Baseball Challenge (Feb. 25-29).

Individual tickets and tournament passes for each of the scheduled tournaments are now available for purchase online at can also be purchased at the Surprise Stadium Box Office, located at 15960 N. Bullard Avenue, or over the phone with at 888.755.2583. Service charges may apply to online and phone orders. All seating for collegiate tournaments is general admission.


Friday, Feb. 19
1 p.m. Ball State University vs. Oregon State University, Surprise Stadium
5 p.m. University of Utah vs. University of Minnesota, Surprise Stadium
5 p.m. Ball State University vs. Utah Valley University, Kansas City Practice Field

Saturday, Feb. 20
10 a.m. Utah Valley University vs. University of Minnesota, Surprise Stadium
2 p.m. Utah Valley University vs. Oregon State University, Surprise Stadium
6 p.m. Ball State University vs. University of Utah, Surprise Stadium

Sunday, Feb. 21
9 a.m. University of Minnesota vs. University of Utah, Surprise Stadium
10 a.m. Utah Valley University vs. Ball State University, Kansas City Practice Field
1 p.m. University of Minnesota vs. Oregon State University, Surprise Stadium

Monday, Feb. 22
12 p.m. University of Utah vs. Oregon State University, Surprise Stadium

Individual Tickets: Adult $10, Senior $8, Youth/Student $5
Tournament Passes: Adult $30, Senior $25, Youth/Student $15

BIG 12 – PAC 12 Spring Training Baseball Challenge: Feb. 25-29

Thursday, Feb. 25
1 p.m. Oregon State University vs. Kansas State University, Surprise Stadium

Friday, Feb. 26
1 p.m. Oregon State University vs. Kansas State University, Surprise Stadium
5 p.m. University of Kansas vs. University of Utah, Surprise Stadium

Saturday, Feb. 27
1 p.m. Oregon State University vs. University of Kansas, Surprise Stadium
5 p.m. Kansas State University vs. University of Utah, Surprise Stadium

Sunday, Feb. 28
10 a.m. University of Kansas vs. Oregon State University, Surprise Stadium
1:30 p.m. University of Utah vs. Kansas State University, Surprise Stadium

Monday, Feb. 29
11 a.m. University of Kansas vs. University of Utah, Surprise Stadium


Individual Tickets: Adult $10, Senior $8, Youth/Student $5
Tournament Passes: Adult $30, Senior $25, Youth/Student $15

For more information, call the Surprise Recreation Campus Box Office at 623.222.2222 or visit

Did You Know?

2015 National Citizen Survey

The 2015 National Citizen Survey (NCS) results are in and nearly 90% of residents rate Surprise as a great place to live and would recommend living here.

The NCS serves as the city’s service report card, and the collected data assists in setting future city priorities. The survey captures residents’ opinions within three community pillars: Community Characteristics, Governance & Participation. These are broken down into eight categories: Safety, Mobility/Transportation, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Economy, Recreation & Wellness, Education & Enrichment and Community Engagement. Across these eight categories the city’s results were similar to over 200 peer cities across the United States.

According to the survey, the areas that are most important to Surprise residents are safety, mobility/transportation and the economy.

The city rated above the national benchmark in the following categories: (% selected excellent/good)

88% overall appearance of the city (cleanliness)
86% recommend Surprise as a place to retire
84% Street lighting
83% Street cleaning
82% Sidewalk maintenance
81% Overall built environment
76% Affordable quality housing
74% Public parking
69% Cost of living

Survey results also indicate a need for more public transportation options and local job creation- two areas that rated below the national benchmark.

Residents were asked how likely they would be to support a separate funding source to pay for new Police and Fire-Medical personnel, which would reallocate General Fund dollars towards other projects. Sixty-six percent of residents strongly/somewhat support this proposal.

Nearly three-quarters of the surveyed residents are confident in local government, and 89% are pleased with the quality of city services.

Since the 2012 NCS, residents noted significant improvements in traffic flow, crime and fire prevention, shopping opportunities/economic development, drinking water and overall national environment. Ratings fell in the number of residents who volunteered, visited a park or watched a local public meeting.

The 2015 NCS was conducted by Boulder, Colorado-based National Research Center from October-November 2015. The survey was sent to 1,400 randomly-selected Surprise households. The overall response rate was 26%, which is average for this type of survey. The margin of error is +/- 5%. Results are weighted as to not have one particular demographic (age, sex, race, etc…) skew results.

The City of Surprise would like to thank those residents who participated in the survey. The city’s next NCS is on target for 2017.

To see the complete results visit

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