City Council Work Session
City Investment Policy Discussion
Finance staff presented changes to the City’s Investment Policy, which provides guidance to ensure the sound and prudent investment of public monies. The policies cover the areas of Investment Authority; Delegation of Authority; Policy Adoption; Internal Control; Prudence; Investment Objectives; Authorized and Eligible Investments; Safekeeping and Custody; Ethics and Conflicts of Interest; Authorized Financial Institutions; and Reporting. Finance staff updated the policy to streamline language and simplify procedures to facilitate application of the policy, remove investment options that carry a high degree of risk, such as commercial paper, document the City’s objective to approach volatile investments with caution, include additional categories of funds, unless otherwise specified, in order to accommodate for the City’s growth, remove references to ineligible investments and irrelevant definitions.
Refinancing of Wastewater Utility Revenue Bonds
Finance staff is working to refinance the 2007 MPC Wastewater Debt which is expected to lower the annual debt service payment by $1M. The wastewater debt will be refinanced with a combined utility system revenue bond which provides greater economies of scales in order to achieve lower financing cost from stronger revenue coverage and higher credit ratings. If the purchase of Circle City Water Company Acquisition deal moves forward, this combined utility system revenue bond positions the city to execute financing for the acquisition. The city expects to finance $14M of the total acquisition cost. The debt service on the water acquisition will be repaid with the sale of water portfolio assets.
Comprehensive Financial Management Policies Discussion
Staff proposed changes to the City’s Comprehensive Financial Management Policies which are reviewed and updated annually to support the development of a solid financial structure and long-term planning. The policies cover the areas of Operating Management, Capital Management, Debt Management, Minimum Fund Balance, and Financial Reporting. The most significant revisions are as follows: reflect the existing budget amendment authority for the City Council, City Manager, and Department Directors; expand the budget amendment authority for the Finance Director related to carryforward, developer agreements, and adjustments between the Community and Recreation Services Department and Sports and Tourism Department; revise the General Fund’s minimum fund balance calculation to include the Ground Ambulance Fund; and revise the Workers’ Compensation minimum fund balance from twice the amount of budgeted claims to $1,500,000 as required by the Industrial Commission.
Surprise Arts and Culture Master Plan
A City Ready for More… Now is the time to ensure the culture of the city and its place in the world. The city is currently in the public hearing and adoption process for our first ever Surprise Arts & Culture Master Plan; implementing a policy outlined in the Arts & Culture Element of the Surprise General Plan 2035. The Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission recommended approval at their meeting on June 4, and the City Council plans to take action regarding adoption at their next meeting on June 19.
There are two key elements to achieving success for arts and culture in Surprise – reacting to the city that already exists and preparing for the new city that will be built over the next 30 years. Arts and cultural activities can serve as agents of change and growth. The Surprise Arts and Culture Master Plan will help guide the future of public art and investment in cultural amenities; revitalizing neighborhoods, promoting economic prosperity, and giving the community a sense of place. The story of Surprise can be told by public art while its cultural amenities and activities become its calling card to the world.
Full Commitment to the Arts… Public Art and the current collaboration for amenities and festivals had been a ‘grass roots’ effort in the past with a meager budget allocated out of the General Fund on a year-to-year basis. City leadership recognized that the growth Surprise has been experiencing, and hoping to sustain, needed a larger commitment to this method of placemaking. City Council passed an ordinance One and One-Third Percent for the Art Program. This commits money from qualifying Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects into a fund dedicated to the arts and cultural amenities, leading the way for this Arts and Culture Master Plan to guide the use of those funds.
Art Is Not Exclusive, Art Is For Everyone! In order to understand Surprise and gauge the needs of its residents, visitors, and the arts community, a series of strategic public engagement events were undertaken that created the foundation for the Arts & Culture Master Plan process. Over a 10 month community outreach, three main stakeholders groups were utilized: City leadership, professionals of the art world, and community members.
Each group was necessary and shared a connection in a way that created a unified vision for what was needed and what would likely be supported. The collaborative community brought together a master plan that will grow and change with the trajectory of the community – as will the scale and diversity of artwork and cultural amenities available to the citizens of Surprise.
Vital Role of the Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission… Surprise has an Arts and Cultural Advisory (ACA) Commission to encourage cultural growth in Surprise and to ensure that art, culture and entertainment are central elements of the quality of life for Surprise residents. Lacking a department full of resources to engage and grow arts is not an uncommon issue for cities of any size, but the Commission has policies and procedures for guidance and structure.
The Commission had a ‘hands on’ approach throughout the entire process of drafting the master plan. They were dedicated in the outreach and communications, the networking with stakeholders, and reviewing the Arts and Culture Master Plan. This ACA Commission understands the need for this community driven document to be a true reflection of the vision of City leadership, art professionals, and the greater community. The resulting plan is a positive collaboration between the Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission, city staff, and stakeholders.
City Council Meeting
City Council Adopts Safety Focused Fiscal Year 19 Budget
City Council approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 City Budget in a Special Meeting on Tuesday night, that addresses safety needs for Information Technology, Police and Fire-Medical. New to the $384.6 million budget is funding for Decide Surprise capital improvement projects that were approved by voters in the November 2017 General Obligation (GO) Bond election. Learn more at www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise.
The budget also includes $16 million in contingency capacity to purchase the Circle City Water Company and grow renewable water allocations by 38 percent. The release of any expenditure would require Council approval and this will be repaid through future water credit sales. For more information, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/waterelection.
Increased operating expenditures are focused on public safety, security, inflation factors, and mandated/contractual obligations.
Public Safety was the largest recipient of increases to ensure the safety of residents. This budget includes the expansion of the city’s ground ambulance service to include a fourth ambulance. The SAFER grant which was awarded to the Fire-Medical Department in 2017 ends in FY2019. The costs for these positions will be fully absorbed by the General Fund mid-year to maintain the enhanced service for residents. In addition, the budget addresses new safety/security needs with the funding of two additional police officers, an emergency manager, an information technology security analyst, and a court compliance coordinator.
With the new requirements of Proposition 206, additional funding is programmed for the minimum wage increase of part-time employees and for paid sick time. The budget also includes additional funding for costs which increase over time such as costs of living, medical premiums, pension contribution rate increases and service-related increases; including water user rates, software licenses, library intergovernmental agreements, and transit intergovernmental agreements.
The Final Budget includes funding for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) of $67 million. This includes utilizing $14.4 million in FY2019 for land, design, and/or construction of some of the GO Bond projects. The budget commits $18.4 million to maintain, secure, preserve, and/or replace infrastructure including roads, buildings, equipment and aged vehicles. The remaining capital is divided between utility-related projects ($14.4 million) and the functional areas of transportation, public safety, general government, and parks and recreation. Funding carried forward (approximately $24 million) from the prior year will continue the work on Desert Oasis water supply facility phase 2, special planning area 1 recharge expansion, and City Center public infrastructure.
Funding for additional operations and capital improvements is generated from growth in general fund revenue. General fund revenues are expected to increase by 10% or approximately $10.9 million above the current adopted budget. Recent escalations in housing activity as well as growing local sales tax account for most of the increase. A five-year forecast of city resources compared to uses helps ensure long-term financial sustainability and secures safety of the city’s financial position.
Council is scheduled to take action on the property tax rate at the June 19th Regular Council Meeting that begins at 6 p.m., at City Hall- Council Chambers. The agenda will be posted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. You can view budget-related materials please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/budget.
Surprise Village Marketplace Freeway Monument Sign
City Council unanimously approved a Conditional Use Permit to allow a Freeway Monument Sign in Surprise Village Marketplace. This is the first such Conditional Use Permit to come before the City Council since the approval of the new Sign Code earlier this year. The proposed 45 foot high Freeway Monument Sign was designed to complement the commercial center where it will be located, and will contain approximately 367 square feet of internally illuminated sign copy.
Board & Commission Appointments
City Council approved the appointments of Donald Jeffrey (4 year term – Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Local Board); Steven Berwald (1 year term – Community & Recreation Services Commission); Deborah Welch (1 year term – Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission); and Doc Sullivan (3 year term – Municipal Property Corporation). Thank you to each of you for your commitment to Surprise!
Events & Meetings
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt Ribbon Cutting
I joined residents and community members on Saturday, June 2 for the grand opening and ribbon cutting for Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Menchie’s is located at 14345 W. Bell Road, Suite 104. The owners welcomed patrons with free yogurt, prizes, face painting, balloons, music and more. Welcome to Surprise!
Surprise Police Department Promotion Ceremony
The Surprise Police Department held a promotion ceremony on Monday, June 4 to celebrate the recent promotions of Sergeant Tyler Hollowell, Sergeant Richard Hernandez and Lieutenant R. Mark Filler. Congratulations to our newly promoted officers.
Christopher Todd Communities at Mountain View Outreach Meeting
City staff hosted a public outreach meeting regarding the Christopher Todd Communities at Mountain View development. This development requires a rezone from residential ranch to RH-15 (12 dwelling units per acre, together with a Final Plat from the purpose of abandoning the Carlin Drive Right-of-Way adjacent to the site. Approximately 22 residents came to the meeting for information on the project.
Mark Your Calendar
The city is hosting a free HOA Connection Class on June 11 that will educate attendees on federal and state fair housing laws and provide information on the city’s public safety community outreach programs. The fair housing laws will be covered by Lauren Vie, Esq. of Mulcahy Law Firm, who will also review what the law says about assistance/comfort animals and group homes. Representatives from the city’s Fire-Medical and Police Departments will be also present to discuss the city’s various community outreach programs.
The meeting will be held at Surprise City Hall, Community Room, 16000 N Civic Center Plaza, Surprise, AZ.
For more information or to register, please contact Ruby Sitea at 623.222.3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Coming to Surprise
Experience a half-size replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial when The Moving Wall comes to Surprise this summer. The replica wall was created so that people who cannot travel to DC, can still share in this special way of honoring and remembering the sacrifice of our Vietnam service members. The wall is engraved with more than 58,000 names of killed or missing Vietnam service men and women.
The schedule will be as follows:
- July 5, 9:00 a.m. The Moving Wall Opens to Public
- July 6, 6:00 a.m. Welcome Ceremony
- July 9, 6:00 a.m. Closing Ceremony
- July 9, 12:00 p.m. The Moving Wall Closes
The Moving Wall will be open 24 hours for viewing from July 5 at 9 a.m. – July 9 at noon. Directory books will be available 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. This event is free to the public. The Moving Wall will be located at Mark Coronado Park, located at 15960 N Bullard Avenue.
The city is seeking volunteers (individuals and groups) for assistance with assembly and disassembly of the wall, staffing the information and directory tables and more. If you can’t volunteer your time, we have another great way you can get involved. Donations of non-perishable food items, meals and bottled water for the volunteers are being accepted. Additional details are available at www.surpriseaz.gov/specialevents. For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact Steve Castillo at 623.222.2267 or email@example.com.
Did You Know?
Surprise Transit Study Needs Your Help
Where do you travel within the city of Surprise? We’re asking you to share your most frequented shopping, dining, education, medical and recreation destinations in Surprise to help us determine potential public transportation routes. The city will capture your travel start and end points within city boundaries in an online interactive Wikimap. Using the collected data, the Transit Feasibility Study team will determine where routes are most needed, potential ridership levels, and transit frequency.
A link to the Wikimap, and instructions for adding your information, is now available on the project website surpriseaz.gov/transitstudy. The Wikimap will be available until 5 p.m., Friday, June 29, 2018.
For those needing assistance with the Wikimap, or who may have questions about the Transit Feasibility Study, a public workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, June 13, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Community Room at Surprise City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza. At the workshop, the project team will share more information about public transit and provide a preview of potential routes.
The goal of the Transit Feasibility Study is to understand how transit can best serve Surprise residents and visitors, including what type of services will be needed, where transit will be most successful and potential funding sources. Learn more about the study online at surpriseaz.gov/transitstudy.