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 yearâ€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 publicâ€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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.