May 17, 2018 • Newsletter

Joint City Council/Planning & Zoning Meeting

At a Joint City Council and Planning and Zoning meeting this week, staff provided a comparison of the city’s land use and General Fund sources with 11 other valley cities. Surprise’s land use is broken down as follows: 76% residential, 20% commercial, and 4% agricultural land. As the city continues to play catch-up and grow our commercial base, it is more important than ever for residents and visitors to shop local. Growing our retail sales tax revenue helps support the General Fund to pay for valuable city services. The illustration of the various ways to fund operations led into the discussion of Community Facilities Districts (CFDs). Recent legislative changes call for the city to revise its current policy for the application and establishment of CFDs. Staff requested guidance on the policy update so that the city may continue to utilize CFDs as a mechanism to fund public infrastructure and incentivize development that will provide a better balance of sources for the city.


City Council Work Session

Draft Tourism Five Year Strategic Plan (2018-2023)

In the summer of 2017, the Tourism Advisory Commissions (TAC) elected to start the process of updating the 2010 Tourism Strategic Plan. With the creation of the new Department of Sports and Tourism, TAC believed it was important to engage both the new department, Community and Recreation Services Department and a facilitator through two developmental planning work sessions in April and November of 2017. The Commission and the Department of Sports and Tourism drafted a comprehensive strategic plan that will position the City to get a more significant portion of the over $3 billion dollars in tax revenue that the state of Arizona generates from tourism each year.

The plan’s purpose focuses on the consistent growth of the City of Surprise and the need to increase prospective awareness of City as a tourism destination while enhancing the quality of life for residents through increased tourism-based development, partnership opportunities, and showcasing the attractions and amenities within the City as international tourist destinations. The plan focuses on four critical focus areas: Events & Entertainment, Marketing, Partnership & Facility Development, and Funding. Each area lists strategic goals and is accompanied by action items, timelines, and measurable outcomes to help provide a reference point for analysis.

The area of Events & Entertainment zeros in on the utilization of the Tourism Fund (which comes from the additional taxes that come from the hotel bed tax) to partner with an event management contractor to create an annual magnet event to attract tourist attendance in excess over 10% each year. This focus area also aims to develop and update infrastructure for outside/third party events to add three new event/entertainment opportunities to build and promote year‐round tourism activity. All of these goals look to leverage the opportunity to increase overall attendance to Spring Training, current sports tournaments and events by 5% and tourism-related room nights by 5% each year.

The Marketing focus area is centered around positioning Surprise as a tourism destination. By increasing the advertising/marketing reach by 20% by 2021 through destination publications, building strategic partnerships, and collaborating with current partners, the City should gain the ability to attract more tourism activity and, in turn, grow tax revenue exponentially. The creation of a comprehensive tourism advertising and communications plan that focuses on expanding our city’s brand to the right demographic will also help leverage more tourism activity.

The Partnerships & Facility Development focus area expands upon the relationship development by building a strategy to establish public‐private partnerships for the development of two new permanent facilities/attractions by 2023, including working with the Economic Development department to attract a resort to the City by 2023.

Finally, the Funding focus area looks to capitalize on some of the resources the TAC is already receiving and leverage those assets to fund studies to provide support for the other focus areas, as well as support events that have the opportunity to grow into large magnet events. In addition to using the resources that the TAC already has, the plan outlines ways to increase the tourism fund by 50% through different revenue opportunities.


City Council Meeting

Resort Feasibility Study

The desire to attract a resort in the City of Surprise has been on the Tourism Strategic Plan since 2010. A request to reallocate funding within the Tourism Fund in the amount of $20,000 was made to authorize a resort feasibility study. The Sports and Tourism Department, in partnership with the Tourism Advisory Commission, would like a study that includes a market feasibility study, market demand analysis and site analysis, possibly of sites near City Center, Loop 303 and the White Tanks to determine the demand for such a resort.

City Council unanimously voted to proceed.

FY18 Financial Status Report

Revenue is trending higher than expected through February in the General Fund. Local sales tax is trending upwards due to increased activity in many categories but a portion of this revenue does go back out as an expenditure to reimburse development obligations. Growth is continuing to trend upwards, thus increasing the amount of revenue collected for development-related growth (permitting, planning, inspections). There has also been a change in timing for intergovernmental revenue that has increased what we have received from the DOR when compared to budget. Expenditures are currently trending below budget by 3%.


Events & Meetings

West Valley Arts Council Reception

I attended the West Valley Arts HQ opening reception for their latest exhibit, Arizona Artists Guild, on Thursday, May 10 at West Valley Arts HQ located at 16126 N. Civic Center Plaza. The Seventh Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition of Fine Art features artists from across Arizona. The exhibit is on display through July 6, 2018.

Artist Marcia Losh with her piece, Circle 24
Artist Marcia Losh with her piece, Circle 24

Kingswood Elementary School STEAM Night

Students, families and teachers came together on Thursday, May 10 for their annual STEAM night event at Kingswood Elementary School. Each grade provided exhibits showcasing the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum including coding, solar energy and much more.

Kingswood Elementary School STEAM Night

The event also provided a unique opportunity for families to learn about reading skills. To further support parents at home, all families were given a free bag of resources to utilize this summer. Many thanks to Principal Jeremy St. Germaine for his continued dedication to our students!


Mark Your Calendar

Surprise Pools Open May 26

Both the Surprise Aquatic Center and Hollyhock Pool will open for summer swimming beginning May 26, including Memorial Day, May 28. Daily admission for residents is $1 per child (17 and under) and $2 per adult with proof of residency. Children ages 10 and under must be accompanied by a responsible person (16 years and older) at all times.

Surprise Aquatic Center, located at 15831 N. Bullard Avenue, will open on weekends from noon until 5 pm; noon until 6 pm, Monday through Thursday; and Friday from noon until 4 pm.

The Hollyhock Pool, located at 15808 Hollyhock Street will be open on weekends from noon until 4 pm and from noon until 3 pm, Monday through Thursday.

For more information including pool passes, please contact www.surpriseaz.gov/aquatics or call Hollyhock Pool at 623.222.2530 or the Surprise Aquatic Center at 623.222.2500.

Free Chest Compression Only CPR Classes

The Surprise Fire-Medical Department will be offering free Continuous Chest Compression Only-CPR (CCC-CPR) classes this summer. CCC-CPR consists of continuous aggressive chest compressions to keep the victim’s blood circulating through their brain and heart, which has been proven to increase survival rates. And, because it does not require mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, it reduces the risk of spreading viruses or other kinds of disease between the life-saver and victim.

A morning and afternoon class will be held on each of the following dates:

  • Wednesday, June 6
  • Wednesday, June 27
  • Wednesday, July 18

The morning class will run from 9-11 a.m., and the afternoon class will run from 2-4 p.m.; both will be held in the Public Safety Building Auditorium, located at 14250 W. Statler Plaza. To register for a class, please email crfire@surpriseaz.gov or call 623.222.5400.


Did You Know?

May 15 Special Election Results

Surprise voters have approved the May 15th Water Election, authorizing City Council to complete negotiations with the Circle City Water Company (CCW) for the possible acquisition of the utility. According to final results released by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office 80% (-15,045) of registered voters voted yes; 20% (3,709) voted no.

CCW is a small water service company in the northern part of Surprise’s planning area and future water service area. This acquisition, which would require City Council approval, would provide Surprise with the company’s existing water infrastructure and grow the city’s allocation of Colorado River water by more than 38 percent.

Colorado River water is currently the only renewable surface supply available to Surprise. Having a right to more surface water will help the city meet future demands and shortfalls. The purchase of CCW would be funded through the sale of current and future water portfolio assets.

The City Council will meet to canvass the votes at a Special Council Meeting, on Tuesday, May 22. This meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m., and will be held in the Community Room of City Hall, as Council Chambers will be closed for pre-scheduled equipment upgrade work.


Contact Me

Office: 623.222.1325
Mobile: 623.451.3975
Email: skip.hall@surpriseaz.gov

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Voters ok city water election

Voters have approved the May 15th Water Election, authorizing City Council to complete negotiations with the Circle City Water Company (CCW) for the possible acquisition of the utility.

According to preliminary results released by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office tonight 80% (14,676) of registered voters voted yes; 20% (3,615) voted no.

CCW is a small water service company in the northern part of Surprise’s planning area and future water service area. This acquisition, which would require City Council approval, would provide Surprise with the company’s existing water infrastructure and grow the city’s allocation of Colorado River water by more than 38 percent.

Colorado River water is currently the only renewable surface supply available to Surprise. Having a right to more surface water will help the city meet future demands and shortfalls.

The purchase of CCW would be funded through the sale of current and future water portfolio assets.

Official final results are expected from the county by Friday, May 18.

The City Council will meet to canvass the votes at a Special Council Meeting, on Tuesday, May 22.  This meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m., and will be held in the Community Room of City Hall, as Council Chambers will be closed for pre-scheduled equipment upgrade work.

May 10, 2018 • Newsletter

Events & Meetings

National Day of Prayer

Councilmember Nancy Hayden and I joined several City staff representatives, residents and church organizations on Thursday, May 3 in the City Hall courtyard to participate in the National Day of Prayer. Many thanks to Ray Grimm for hosting the event.

National Day of Prayer at City Hall

Altrusa of the West Valley Reception

Altrusa of the West Valley hosted a reception on Thursday, May 3 at Rio Salado College in Surprise. The reception was held for high school students and their family members. Rio Salado’s College Bridge Pathways program helps high school students achieve the GED. Altrusa provides the families with the opportunity to celebrate their student’s achievements through this reception and scholarships for the students.

Altrusa of the West Valley has been serving residents of the West Valley since 1978. In 2015, they initiated the formation of Read On Arizona Greater Surprise. Thanks to their partnership with Friends of the Surprise Libraries, five grants in the last six years were provided to reimburse students for the high school equivalency test.

Surprise Safety Day

I attended Surprise Safety Day on Saturday, May 5 at the Surprise Aquatic Center located at 15831 N. Bullard Avenue. Attendees were able to enjoy emergency vehicle and equipment displays including an appearance by Native Air helicopter as well as interactive exhibits and live demonstrations from Surprise public safety services. Additionally, there were water safety and CPR demonstrations.

At this time, the Aquatic Center offered free swim lesson assessments and conducted swim team tryouts. Thank you to our public safety teams for hosting this successful educational event for our residents!

Surprise Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission Meeting

The Surprise Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission met on Monday, May 7. Discussion included a proposed history wall display in the Mayor’s Atrium and an update on the development of the Public Art Plan. Additionally, City Engineering Manager Michael Boule discussed the timeline for the General Obligation bond projects and WHAM Executive Director discussed a neighborhood photography project in the Original Town Site that will be completed by San Diego artist John Raymond Mireles who is travelling to all 50 states in his quest to visually compose a bridge between the racial, ideological, geographic and socioeconomic differences that divide our country.

WESTMARC Economic Development Summit

WESTMARC Economic Development Summit was held on Tuesday, May 8 at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale. The focus of this particular summit was building a quality community. More than 1.6 million people reside in the West Valley. Approximately 40 percent of Phoenix residents live west of I-17. The average income is $62,775 for households in the West Valley and 62 percent of the said population is workforce age. Many of the West Valley amenities, civic engagement career and education opportunities were discussed as they enhance the lives of our residents.


Mark Your Calendar

Surprise Day of Service

Are you looking for opportunities to help your community? The city is seeking volunteers for the Surprise Day of Service, which will be held on Saturday, May 12 from 8 a.m. until noon.

On the day of the event, volunteers will check in at the Surprise Senior Center located at 15832 N. Hollyhock Street. Transportation will be required to get to most service projects, which include painting, cleaning, trash removal and more.

Light refreshments will be provided for breakfast and lunch. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jason Hughes at 623.222.3239 or jason.hughes@surpriseaz.gov.

City Council/Planning & Zoning Joint Planning Meeting

The Surprise City Council and city Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a joint meeting on Monday, May 14, to discuss Community Facilities Districts (CFDs). CFDs are special taxing districts that finance the installation, operation and maintenance of public improvements such as roads, water and wastewater facilities, flood control and drainage projects that benefit the specified area.

City staff will brief members of Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission on recent state law changes on how CFDs operate. After the briefing, the collective body will discuss whether the city should update its policies regarding CFDs in order to encourage and support continued livable and quality neighborhood development in Surprise.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m., in Council Chambers at City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza. The complete agenda will be posted at least 24 hours before the meeting at https://agenda.surpriseaz.gov.

May 15 Special Election

Please don’t forget to cast your ballot for the city’s May 15 Special Election to decide whether or not to authorize the purchase and acquisition of a water service company, Circle City Water Company. The acquisition would provide Surprise with the company’s existing infrastructure and grow the city’s allocation of Colorado River by more than 38%.

For more information, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/waterelection


Did You Know?

2018 National Citizen Survey Results – Residents Love Surprise

The 2018 National Citizen Survey (NCS) results reveal more than 8 in 10 residents rate the quality of life in Surprise as excellent or good; and they recommend living here. The NCS serves as the city’s service report card, and the collected data assists in setting future city priorities. According to the survey, the areas that are most important to Surprise residents are safety and the economy.

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. Overall, ratings in Surprise for 2018 remained stable from the 2015 NCS. Of the 132 items, for which comparisons were available, 106 were rated similarly/ 23 decreased/3 increased. And across the eight overall categories a majority of the city’s results were similar to 200 or more peer cities across the United States.

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

  • 89% Surprise as a place to retire
  • 80% Sidewalk maintenance
  • 72% Variety of housing options
  • 66% Affordable housing
  • 63% Cost of living
  • 62% Street repair

A majority of residents (96%) recycled at home and 95% feel safe in their neighborhood. Overall appearance of the city (cleanliness) also rated well (84%). Employment opportunities rose 7% since the 2015 survey and rated as similar to the national benchmark.

Survey results continue to indicate a need for more public transportation options which rated much lower than the national benchmark. Residents ages 18 – 35 gave less favorable ratings to Education/Enrichment and Community Engagement than respondents over 35; and they were less likely to remain living in Surprise over the next five years.

While the survey indicated a need for public transit; when asked to identify a funding source the Strongly/Somewhat Support responses were very low: 31% favored a New Transit Tax; 30% supported GO Bonds for vehicles only; and 18% supported a property tax increase.

Residents continue to rate investing in water resources; completing streets; and protecting the White Tank Mountains as high-to-medium priorities for the city.

93% of respondents say they utilize the city’s website www.surpriseaz.gov to access city news and information and when asked for ways in which they would like to engage with the city, 68% wrote in social media and the website as their top connections.

The 2018 NCS was conducted by Boulder, Colorado-based National Research Center (NRC) from February – March 2018. The survey was sent to 1,500 randomly-selected Surprise households. The overall response rate was 23%. The margin of error is +/- 5%. Results were weighted as to not have one particular demographic dominate response.

For the first time, the NCS was offered online March 5 – 19. 454 online surveys were received. The paper and online datasets were not combined. NRC survey conductors found quite a few more disparities in ratings than they typically see. Online participants were more likely to be middle-aged or female than the mailed paper respondents. The online results were similar in that more than 8 in 10 residents rate the quality of life in Surprise as excellent or good and they recommend living here.

Thank you to those residents who participated in the survey. To see the complete results for the paper and online survey; or to view previous surveys visit www.surpriseaz.gov/ncs.

Phoenix Business Journal Ranks City as One of Valley’s Healthiest Employers

The City of Surprise has been named one of the Valley’s Healthiest Employers in a 2018 Phoenix Business Journal ranking, placing sixth among midsized companies. The city’s employee wellness program includes diverse initiatives that address physical activity, nutrition, stress management, and preventative disease management.

City Hall has two on-site Wellness Rooms that host fitness classes like Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Cardio/Strength and Bootcamp; as well as chair massages, reflexology and meditation. The city also offers nutritional counseling programs and an annual health risk assessment.

The city’s wellness programs complement overall healthcare benefits in a way that helps contain costs.To see Phoenix Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers list, please visit https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/subscriber-only/2018/05/04/top-of-the-phoenix-lists-healthiest-1.html


Contact Me

Office: 623.222.1325
Mobile: 623.451.3975
Email: skip.hall@surpriseaz.gov

Ask a Question

May 3, 2018 • Newsletter

City Council Work Session

Surprise Transit Feasibility Study

The Surprise Transit Feasibility Study is developing a robust set of data about the demographics of who utilizes transit, where they are coming from and going to and why they are taking their trips. Last month, the transit survey was available for residents and visitors to complete. We received 1,774 completed surveys. Surveys were conducted through an online web portal, paper copies and through trained staff interviews with the public.

The survey results will be utilized to better understand travel markets, improve regional travel forecasts to predict transit ridership and highway use in the region, to help in the design of possible transit facilities and to support funding decision regarding transportation projects. City staff is currently utilizing the data to build an interactive analysis and visualization app for the next public outreach effort and evaluation for mode and route analysis.

A public workshop is tentatively planned for early summer with an additional Council update in August.

Surprise Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Plan

The goal of an ITS Strategic Plan is to identify strategies and tools to allow the City to manage its transportation network and information exchange related to traffic, public safety and special events that could disrupt normal traffic. Currently, the City’s traffic signals are controlled by a central location at the City’s Public Safety Building through a network of underground cabling (fiber optic) located in the City’s right of way, this is what the City labels it’s ‘ITS network’. The hope of the ITS Strategic Plan is to expand upon this current use to a more encompassing program that would use this ITS network for communicating to the public on potential road closures so alternate routes could be used. Other uses of the ITS Strategic Plan would be for the City to be ready to facilitate new technologies that would need to utilize the ITS network such as smart cars. Lastly, with there being endless possibilities of utilizing the ITS network, the ITS Strategic Plan gives the City a guideline in which to implement new technologies in an orderly format maximizing the use of funds, staff and equipment.


City Council Meeting

New Surprise Youth Council Members

The Surprise Youth Council (SYC) formally introduced its 11 newest members in a swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. After a two-month recruitment process, these students were identified as possessing the skills, perspective, and motivation necessary to enhance the Council’s efforts to positively impact our community. With much enthusiasm, we welcome Tatilana Aguon, Tatiana Alarcon, Prince Alino, Alyssa Blandford, Aden Chudziak, Dakota Dolister, Carlie Hess, Bryan Main II, Alexander Mejia, Ian Petrow, and Maurice Policarpio. We look forward to the energy each of them will bring to the SYC’s events, service projects, and other initiatives over the coming year.

The Surprise City Council welcomes the newest members of the Surprise Youth Council

FY19 Tentative Budget

Action was taken to adopt the tentative expenditure limitation budget for FY2019 in the amount of $327,044,300 and authorizing publication of said tentative budget; Resolution # 2018-66. The tentative budget sets the maximum expenditure limit for FY2019. After adoption, the total expenditures cannot be modified to a higher amount, but can be reduced. The budget forms that serve as exhibit A to the resolution will be published twice prior to a public hearing and adoption of the final budget that is scheduled to occur on June 5. The final step of adopting the property tax levy will follow on June 19.

2018 Emergency Action Plan

The City of Surprise has maintained an Emergency Operations Plan for many years. The Surprise Fire-Medical Department has been working collaboratively with the Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management and members of various departments within the city to ensure all pertinent aspects of the current Emergency Operations Plan were evaluated and updated to meet the current emergency response needs at all levels of local government. Areas evaluated included, but were not limited to, transportation, public works, public safety, hazardous materials, communications, search and rescue, recovery and mitigation, health and medical, etc.

City Council unanimously approved the updates.


Events & Meetings

Read On Greater Surprise Meeting

Read on Greater Surprise met on Friday, April 27. Councilmembers Roland Winters and Patrick Duffy joined me along with Senator Rick Gray. The meeting focused on the process the City of Tempe utilizes to evaluate the needs for Pre-K education and statistical data on families in poverty. The group is interested in gathering similar data for Surprise, El Mirage, Youngtown, Waddell and Whitmann. A request for this data will be sent to First Things First, and it will be evaluated at the next Read on Greater Surprise meeting.

Special Joint Meeting of the Commission

The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission, the Tourism Advisory Commission and the Community and Recreation Services Commission met on Monday, April 30 to collaborate on branding the city from each of their respective commissions’ perspectives. The meeting was productive and many ideas were shared. They agreed to meet again in six months.

The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission, the Tourism Advisory Commission and the Community and Recreation Services Commission collaborate on branding the city

Arizona Town Hall

Community leaders, residents and staff from the Arizona Town Hall met on Wednesday, May 2 to discuss funding PreK-12 education at West-MEC’s Northwest Campus. Guest speakers included Director of Government Relations from the Arizona Association of School Business Officials and Peoria Unified School District CFO Kenneth Hicks. Many great ideas were shared on what we can do to improve the education funding in Arizona now and in the future.

Community leaders, residents and staff from the Arizona Town Hall met on Wednesday, May 2 to discuss funding PreK-12 education at West-MEC's Northwest Campus


Mark Your Calendar

Surprise Safety Day

Join us for a day of fun at Surprise Safety Day on Saturday, May 5! Bring your family and friends to Surprise Aquatic Center, 15831 N Bullard Avenue, from 8-11 a.m. and enjoy emergency vehicle and equipment displays, including an appearance by Native Air helicopter; interactive exhibits and live demonstrations of Surprise’s public safety services; and water safety and CPR demonstrations. Plus, the Surprise Aquatic Center is offering free swim lesson assessments and will be conducting swim team tryouts. Participants should bring a bathing suit and a towel; the pool is heated.

Surprise Safety Day is free and presented in partnership with Surprise Community & Recreation Services, Surprise Police, Surprise Fire-Medical, Native Air and Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center. For more information about Safety Day, swim lesson assessments, or swim team tryouts, please contact the Community & Recreation Services office at 623.222.2000.

Surprise Day of Service

Are you looking for opportunities to help your community? The city is seeking volunteers for the Surprise Day of Service which will be held on Saturday, May 12 from 8 am until 12 noon.

On the day of the event, volunteers will check in at the Surprise Senior Center located at 15832 N. Hollyhock Street. Transportation will be required to get to most service projects which include painting, cleaning, trash removal and more.

Light refreshments will be provided for breakfast and lunch. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jason Hughes at 623.222.3239 or Jason.hughes@surpriseaz.gov.


Did You Know?

Union Hills & 107th Avenue Intersection Closed

The 107th Avenue and Union Hills Drive intersection will be closed beginning 9 p.m. Friday, May 4, to realign two waterlines, a storm drain pipe and drainage structure. The intersection is scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m., Monday, May 21. Bell Road, Del Webb Boulevard, 115th Avenue and 99th Avenue may be used as alternate routes. Access will be maintained at all times for emergency vehicles.

The closure is required to construct a portion of the 115th Avenue and Union Hills Drive project that will intercept flood water from the northeast and carry it south to the Agua Fria River when complete. The project is a partnership between Surprise, the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, the city of Peoria and the Maricopa County Department of Transportation.

The project is scheduled to be complete in June 2018, weather permitting. For questions or concerns, call the construction hotline at 602.264.6416.


Contact Me

Office: 623.222.1325
Mobile: 623.451.3975
Email: skip.hall@surpriseaz.gov

Ask a Question