City Council Work Session
Continued FY18 Budget Discussion
City Council heard the third presentation in a series of discussions on the upcoming FY2018 budget. The focus of this particular discussion was the enterprise utility funds and the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF). The enterprise utilities include the Solid Waste, Stormwater, Wastewater, and Water services. Rates are set for each of those funds to recover the costs of the services provided.
The Solid Waste utility revenues are currently 3 percent or $0.1M ahead of the FY2017 budget. In the upcoming fiscal year, there will be a focus on vehicle and equipment replacement, renegotiation of the landfill services contract, and reviewing the efficiency of bulk trash scheduling.
The Stormwater utility is new in the current fiscal year with estimated year end revenues of $1.3M. Establishing its reserve and starting the construction of stormwater related infrastructure are the priorities for this utility.
The Wastewater utility revenues are currently 5 percent or $0.4M above FY2017 budgeted amounts. FY2018 will see an evaluation of current debt to identify potential refinancing opportunities; a review of current capacity, most specifically the recharging of treated water; and an update of the development impact fees.
The Water utility revenues are currently 15 percent or $0.9M above the budget through six months. Like the Wastewater utility, an update of the development impact fees is on the horizon, along with capital projects enhancing system interconnectivity and expanding arsenic treatment capacity. Management of the water portfolio, specifically the expansion of water rights, is also an important priority for the upcoming year. For FY2018, the Water utility is scheduled for an 8.25 percent rate increase adopted by Council in June of 2014.
HURF receives the majority of its revenue from gasoline tax collected by the state and distributed to the cities. The revenues are currently 3 percent or $0.1M above its budgeted amount. Key issues for HURF in the upcoming budget year include replacement of equipment and vehicles, as well as the continued maintenance of our streets through the pavement preservation program.
The budget discussions will continue over the next few Council meetings resulting in the June adoption of the FY2018 budget that will become effective July 1, 2017.
If you missed the live presentation, visit www.surpriseaz.gov/budget to watch it. All of the budget presentations are posted to the website following the City Council Work Session or Regular Meeting at which they are presented.
Surprise Public Art Policies and Procedures Guide
Members of the Arts & Cultural Commission elaborated on the Public Art Policies and Procedures Guide that was originally introduced at a City Council Work Session last month. The purpose of the guide is to establish a process for the selection, acquisition, placement and maintenance of works of public art, including policies for public art management, acceptance of donations and deaccession procedures.
City Council Meeting
Boards & Commissions Appointments
City Council unanimously approved three appointments that included Dustin Gardy (Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission), Robert Monahan (Disability Advisory Commission) and Ken Wright (Municipal Property Corporation Board). Congratulations!
Budget Amendment for Fencing at 8-Acre Park
The 8-Acre Park is the multi-purpose field located North of Surprise Stadium on Bullard Avenue. This field is used extensively throughout the year for youth sports such as soccer, flag football, tee-ball, baseball and softball practices. In addition, the area is utilized for City special events such as the annual Surprise Party.
Community and Recreation Services requested a FY17 budget amendment by reallocating appropriations and an actual transfer of $300,000 within the General Fund to the General Capital Projects Fund to facilitate the construction of fencing around the park for several pertinent reasons. The fence would provide a safety barrier for users of the field from Bullard Ave and Paradise Lane; allow for a greater span of control during special events; and would create a venue for ticketed events throughout the year. The fence would also allow maintenance staff to close the area during times of maintenance or over-seeding. 8-Acre Park would remain open to the public when the field is not being used for programming or closed for maintenance.
The fence installation will consist of wrought iron fencing, brick pillars with lights and rolling gates to match existing stadium fencing. The fencing would be 2,300 linear feet of 8′ high ornamental fencing with six 20′ x 8′ rolling gates, one 40′ x 8′ iron double roll gate and one 8′ x 8′ double drive gate for accessibility. The resolution for the budget amendment utilizing savings was unanimously approved.
Discussion of Proposed Text Amendment of Surprise Municipal Code on Signs
The city’s Community Development Department is currently working to re-write our sign code. The goal is to balance business needs with community aesthetics, while complying with recent court decisions regarding free speech. Some of the highlights of the draft code include:
- A content-neutral approach to sign regulation
- A provision that serves to replace all previous sign codes while leaving intact any currently approved through the Comprehensive Sign Program
- Robust definitions with illustrations and graphics
- Clear articulation of permitted and prohibited signs
- More opportunities for permanent business signage through increased wall and monument sign area
- A provision for vertical (blade) signage in certain circumstances
- Increased community aesthetics through a reduction in certain types of temporary signage
- Limited use of Electronic Messaging Centers
- A provision that will allow unique and creative designs through a Council-approved Comprehensive Sign Program
The draft code has been released to the public for review and comment, and outreach meetings have been scheduled as follows:
6-7 p.m. Surprise City Hall – Community Room, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza
6-7 p.m. Surprise City Hall – Community Room, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza
6-7 p.m. Surprise Regional Library, 16089 N. Bullard Avenue
More information is available on our website at www.surpriseaz.gov/signcode. You are encouraged to attend any of these meetings and to contact staff for more information or to submit comments.
Events & Meetings
Read Across America Day
I was invited to participate in Read Across America Day at Countryside Elementary School on March 2. Read Across America Day celebrates Dr. Seuss’ birthday and the joys of reading. I was honored to read a Dr. Seuss book to the second grade students of Ms. Igoe’s class.
Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission Meeting
The Arts & Cultural Advisory Commission met on Monday, March 6 to discuss the Public Art Master Plan timeline which is scheduled for completion in July 2018. In addition, the winner of the baseball bat contest was chosen.
Youth Services Update
Youth Services Administrator Mike Cassidy and I met earlier this week to discuss the status of youth services. It is the goal of the City Manager’s department to ensure that we are: reaching a diverse group of youth within our community; engaging the disengaged; making 20 Surprise Youth Council Members feel like the outreach is significantly more; facilitating academic, technical and interpersonal skill-building so we are positioning Surprise for the future.
Mark Your Calendar
Second Sundays in the Park – March 12
The city continues its Second Sundays in the Park concert series this Sunday, March 12 with Celtic music performed by “Kilted Spirit” from 4 until 6 p.m. in the center of Surprise Community Park. The event is free. Surprise Community Park is located at 15953 N. Bullard Avenue.
Community Pride Day
Looking for an opportunity to better your community? The city invites all residents to participate in our Community Pride Day Cleanup Event. This event will have volunteers helping with landscaping projects and trash removal.
Volunteers are asked to meet at the city park located on 183rd Avenue, south of Enoch Drive (24303 N. 183rd Avenue) at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 8 to receive cleanup assignments. Volunteers will meet back at the park for lunch at 11:30 a.m. and the event will conclude at noon. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jason Hughes at 623.222.3239.
Did You Know?
Southwest Gas Rate Case Update
Southwest Gas has recently filed a base rate adjustment request with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued his recommended opinion and order approving the proposed settlement agreement which was signed by, among others: Arizona Corporation Commission staff, the Residential Utility Consumer Office, the Arizona Community Action Association, Property Owners and Residents Association of Sun City West. The ACC is expected to vote on the order during either their March or April open meeting. The recommended order can be modified by the Commissioners.
The recommended order adopts a $16 million revenue increase –the average residential customer will experience a 1.09% (or $0.40/month) increase. The recommended order adopts the Company’s proposed expansion of its Customer Owned Yard Line (COYL) program and Vintage Steel Pipe (VSP) Replacement Program. The COYL expansion will allow the Company to include a more proactive, systematic approach to replacing COYLS, whether or not they are leaking. The VSP program will facilitate the accelerated replacement of VSP (specifically, pre-1970s VSP). The agreed-upon VSP replacement program will enhance public safety by facilitating a proactive approach to the replacement of aging infrastructure, but will also offer rate impact protections to customers by including a reasonable cap on the annual rate adjustment that they will experience.
The recommended order adopts a modification to the Company’s decoupling mechanism to remove the monthly weather adjustment provision. Additionally, the mechanism will be renamed the Delivery Charge Adjustment Provision. For low income customers, the Low Income Ratepayer Assistance (LIRA) program eligibility is increasing to 200% of Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.
If you are not in favor of the recommended order, now is your time to notify the Commissioners. You can find their information at www.azcc.gov.