Councilmember Skip Hall reading to first grade students at Countryside Elementary School

March 8, 2018 • Newsletter

City Council Work Session

Recycling Trends

City staff and representatives from Waste Management provided an update on the recycling industry. The industry is facing challenges due to new import restrictions from China and an increase in recycling. China is the largest importer of recyclables in the world and the single largest consumer of recyclable materials generated in North America. The quality of our recycling (making sure we are not contaminating our bins with non-recyclable items) will impact pricing and movement, so quality is important. Suggestions to improve quality included recycling all empty bottles, cans and paper; and eliminating food and liquids as well as plastic bags from recycling containers.

Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

Finance staff completed the third in a series of presentations regarding the development of the FY19 budget. The focus of this session was on the City’s reserve polices and General Fund revenue sources. In FY2018, the City had a total of $38.6 million in reserves across all funds. Per City policy, each individual fund must maintain either a minimum dollar amount or percentage of expenses in reserve. For example, the General Fund has a two-month reserve policy (16.67%) that is broken into three components; 10% for operations, 5% for budget stabilization, and 1.67% for emergencies.

The FY2018 budget includes $124.9 million in General Fund sources which is comprised of intergovernmental revenue, charges for services, local sales tax, primary property tax, and franchise fees. Based on discussion held during this work session, the Finance Department will move forward with the preparation of the City Manager’s Recommended Budget under the assumption that the City will maintain the property tax rate of $0.7591 in FY2019.

City Council Meeting

Text Amendment Regarding Signs

Earlier last month, City Council conducted a public hearing to consider action pertaining to the approval of a text amendment to Chapter 113 of the Surprise Municipal Code regarding signs. At that time, Council directed staff to bring the matter back for further discussion and consideration on March 6, allowing staff time to revise the draft code to address Council’s concerns. On Tuesday, Council discussed the text amendment which included the amendments to A-frame signs and the future installation of billboards along Grand Avenue and Loop 303 to enhance marketing for businesses. City Council voted 5-2 to approve the text amendment with the removal of billboards. The amendments will go into effect on April 5, 2018.

To read the full updated sign code, please visit:

Heritage Farms Preliminary Plat

City Council voted 6-1 to approve the Preliminary Plat entitled Heritage Farm located at the southeast corner of 175th Avenue and Waddell Road. The proposed plat will provide 137 lots on approximately 33 acres.

Approval of Agreement Regarding White Tank Mountain Regional Park

City Council unanimously approved an agreement related to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, which included annexation of the Park and the inclusion of the Park in the planning areas of Buckeye and Surprise and our respective general plans, subject to the approval of Maricopa County. In the future, the parties may consider joint development of trails or similar amenities, whether inside or outside the Park.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park rendering

Events & Meetings

Canyon Ridge Elementary School Tour

Young members from Canyon Ridge National Elementary Honor Society visited me to tour City Hall on Wednesday, February 28. We toured the City Council Department and the City Council Chambers where students learned updates about that City and were provided with an opportunity to ask questions about local government.

Canyon Ridge STEAM Night

Canyon Ridge School hosted their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) on Thursday, March 1. The community was welcome to attend the event where all grade levels showcased the STEAM curriculum including coding, astronomy, physics and rocketry. Following a tour by Principal Jill Hoppe, I attended several displays and talked to students about their respective studies, including conversations with the sixth grade class and their “Invention Convention.” The caliber of inventions from some of our youngest entrepreneurs was impressive!

Read Across America

Countryside Elementary School hosted a Read Across America event in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on Friday, March 2. I was invited to read to the first grade students in Mrs. Fallon’s class. I am grateful for the opportunities to engage with our youngest residents and encourage literacy!

Councilmember Skip Hall reading to first grade students at Countryside Elementary School

Surprise Police Department Annual Appreciation Event

The Surprise Police Department held their Annual Appreciation Celebration on Friday, March 2 at Christ Church of the Valley (CCV) in Surprise. Police employees, volunteers, Councilmembers and family members enjoyed dinner and the awards ceremony. The following employees and volunteers were recognized for their selfless service and commitment to our residents and community.

Rookie of the Year Officer Christopher Smith
Supervisor of the Year Lieutenant Norman Owens
Civilian of the Year Kenneth Augusto
Detective of the Year Kristy Coats
Officer of the Year Richard (Rick) Malone
Volunteer of the Year George Busch
Citizens Patrol Member of the Year Kathryn Jonas
Distinguished Service Award Tina Jennings
Lifesaving Award Officer Christopher Smith
Lifesaving Award Officer Russell Jurn

Surprise Spring Training 5k

The city hosted its inaugural Spring Training 5K on Friday, March 2 at Surprise Stadium. A total of 284 participants ran the course. More than 100 of the participants lived outside of Surprise; 38 were from outside of Arizona; and four were from outside of the US. The race started and ended in the Stadium and highlighted our fantastic recreation campus including the Community Park, tennis complex and Ottawa University Arizona sports field. Other highlights included a fun atmosphere with music, snacks and beverages. Staff plans to make this race an annual event and grow the number of participants.

Mark Your Calendar

Surprise Clean Up Event

Calling all Surprise residents! The city will be hosting our next free residential waste drop-off for you on Saturday, March 10. This event allows residents to drop off up to 2,000 pounds of residential waste, free of charge, at the Northwest Regional Landfill, 19401 W. Deer Valley Road. The event will be held from 7 am until 1 pm. Acceptable items include lawn waste and other typical household refuse.

Please note that proof of Surprise residency is required. Additionally, hazardous waste items will not be accepted during this time. Items such as paint, batteries, tires and pool chemicals will be collected at the city’s Household Hazardous Waste event on April 14 from 8 am until 12 noon at the Public Works Maintenance Yard, 13433 W. Firefox Drive. For more information, please call our customer service line at 623.222.1900.

Sunday in the Park Food Truck Festival

The City of Surprise, in coordination with State 48 Brewery and Food Truck Friday West, presents Sunday in the Park Food Truck Festival on March 11 with live music performed by The Spirited Lads. The event will be held from 4 – 8 p.m. at Mark Coronado Park (formerly 8-Acre Park), 15960 N. Bullard Avenue.

Event admission is free; food and drink will be available for purchase. Choose from a variety of delicious food trucks, as well as an assortment of craft beers and wines provided by State 48 Brewery.

This is a great opportunity to enjoy live entertainment and unique food trucks that the whole family will love! Don’t forget a blanket or a lawn chair. Dogs must be on leashes. For more information, please contact the City of Surprise Community & Recreation Services Office at 623.222.2000 or visit

Did You Know?

National Citizens Survey Is Online Now

If you did not receive a National Citizens Survey (NCS) by mail, you can take the survey online! You can visit and share your thoughts on Surprise as a place to live and work. We want your feedback on transportation, public safety, youth services and so much more! The NCS is conducted by the National Research Center of Boulder, Colorado. Survey results are anonymous. The city only receives the aggregate results.

Your feedback helps the city to identify services in which we are performing well and lets us know the areas in which we have the opportunity to improve. It also helps to identify priority projects for Surprise and indicates where limited city funding should go in order to provide the services you most desire.

For those households that did receive a paper survey by mail, please complete the paper version and mail back using the postage-paid envelope.

Our last NCS was conducted in 2015 and 90% of residents indicated they would recommend Surprise as a place to live, a rating that is “much above” surveyed cities of our size. Residents told us Safety, Mobility and the Economy were most important to them. Respondents said we need to work on improving transportation/transit options, local job choices, education and resident volunteer opportunities.

Since the 2015 survey 3,000 new jobs have been created in Surprise. In addition the Bell-Grand Intersection Improvements were completed in partnership with ADOT; Greenway Road was widened; residents passed a General Obligation Bond to fund projects in Public Safety, Transportation and Pavement Preservation; and our Human Service and Community Vitality Department continues to grow volunteer opportunities, most recently hosting nearly 400 volunteers during the city’s 2nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration of Service.

On the education front, Ottawa University opened a campus at City Center; West-MEC’s new northwest valley campus opened last summer and Highland Prep began classes last fall.

The last day to take the survey is March 19!

Surprise Baseball Bat Contest Winners

The Surprise Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission sponsored their annual baseball bat decorating contest for students in fifth through eighth grade earlier this year. The theme for this year’s context was science and exploration. Commission Chair Susan de Jong acknowledged the winners at the City Council meeting held on March 6. The winners included grand prize winner Christian Do, 1st prize winner Sydney Do, 2nd prize winner Tiffany Seich and 3rd prize winner Ryan Henderson.

Congratulations to our winners on their creative artwork!