Decide GO Bond Update
The city has released the anticipated procurement schedule for some of the bond projects approved by voters last November. As you recall, the voters of Surprise approved General Obligation bond funding for 10 projects in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation last November.
The advertisement for Design-Build Professional Services for the Public Works Operations Facility will open February 15, 2018.
The advertisement for Design Professional Services for the three Traffic Congestion Mitigation projects opens February 22, 2018. This includes improvements to sections of Waddell, Greenway and Litchfield roads.
The advertisement for Design Professional Services for Fire Station 304 and Fire Station 308 begins February 15, 2018.
The complete schedule, project timeline details and additional information is available at www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise. To view the formal bid posting, visit Anticipated Procurement Schedule for Bond Projects.
City Council Work Session
Proposed Amendment Regarding Signs
City Council heard a presentation regarding the city’s draft sign code on Tuesday evening. City staff has been working to bring forward a new sign code that will balance business needs and community aesthetics, in a manner that is consistent with the 1st Amendment and recent changes to the law. While this was only a discussion item, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will hear the issue at a public hearing to be held here at City Hall on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 6:00 PM. The City Council is also scheduled to hear the matter at a public hearing on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 6:00 PM, at City Hall. If you have any questions regarding the proposed sign code, please don’t hesitate to call Planner Robert Kuhfuss at 623-222-3137.
City Council Meeting
Amendment of Municipal Code – Wireless Facilities
Due to recent legislative action from State and Federal lawmakers, revisions to Section 122-112, Wireless Facilities, of the Surprise Municipal Code are necessary to ensure compatibility when constructing Wireless Facilities in the city. House Bill 2365 was adopted in 2017 which now allows wireless providers to install and operate wireless facilities in city rights-of-way. HB 2365 also provided an application process for said facilities (most applicants are exempt from zoning review) and requires the establishment of terms and conditions for the wireless providers. The bill allows cities to require reasonable appearance and concealment requirements. Timing, submittal requirements, design standards and the review process have been modified and unanimously approved by City Council.
Vice Mayor Selection – 2018
City Council selected District 4 Councilmember Ken Remley to serve as Vice Mayor. Per city code, City Council must select a new Vice Mayor to serve on an annual basis no later than January 30 each year. The Vice Mayor acts on behalf of the Mayor in the event of absence. Congratulations, Ken!
FY2018 Financial Status Report
Finance Director Lindsey Duncan provided an update of the financial activity through the month of October 2017. General fund resources, year to date, are higher than budgeted at $5.3 million. The largest portion of the increase is from local sales tax as well as the charges for services due to the increase in activities by developers. Expenses were approximately $900,000 less than budgeted.
City Council Supports Legislation Regarding Street Light Districts
Arizona Revised Statutes (48-616, and others) authorize cities to form special taxing districts known as Streetlight Improvement Districts (SLIDs) for the presently limited purpose of purchasing electricity for street lights in a specified area. The City of Surprise currently requires these districts for streetlights on all roadways except parkways, major arterials, and minor arterials, and administers over 100 SLIDs at present. With a growing city, the number of SLIDs continues to expand causing a greater need for administration of the districts and coordination with the energy provider. In addition, each district has a different taxing rate resulting in a wide variety of taxes for property owners.
The creation of these districts throughout the development of the city has led to over 100 taxable districts citywide. The variability in the number of properties and lights in each district can lead to very different tax bills for each property owner. In addition, the administration of these districts and coordination with the energy provider is both time and work intensive.
The city is seeking a solution to optimize the use and to streamline the efficiency of administration of the districts in terms of assessment of costs and maintenance of the facilities. The goal is to create greater consistency for tax payers and to reduce the burden of administration. As a result, city staff has engaged outside Counsel along with two other cities and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to draft a bill allowing cities to expand and consolidate street lighting districts and add powers to acquire, construct, and maintain street lighting facilities.
Amendments to the City Council Policies and Procedures Manual
The current City Council Policies and Procedures Manual expressly requires that “this manual will be reviewed by the City Council to consider recommendations and update it as necessary in August of odd-numbered years.” This item was brought forth for discussion and action in November but tabled for further review prior to action. Consequently, the City Attorney’s Office reviewed the policy and identified changes based on issues that have arisen implementing the current policy.
Specifically, the suggestions that have been drafted clarify that Council Members do not “check their constitutional rights at the door” by being an elected official and this policy does not supersede any constitutional rights that members enjoy. The purposed amendments also include an obligation, corollary to the obligation to report a violation, to refrain from making false, frivolous, or otherwise harassing allegations of violation. The suggested amendments passed with a 4-2 vote.
Amendments to Surprise Municipal Code
At a Council meeting on November 7, 2017, City Council voted to postpone the consideration of specific proposed amendments to Surprise Municipal Code, Chapter 2, Article II, Section 2-22. The suggested amendments included:
(1) Clarify what a public comment is in the context of the Clerk accepting public comments for posting on the City’s website during a council vacancy;
(2) Apply a “resign to run” obligation to boards and commissions members in order to ensure parity in Arizona State Law as it applies to City Council and Boards and Commissions (i.e., Board Members or Commissioners would need to resign their seats to run for City Council);
(3) Distinguish between excused and unexcused absences in the context of boards and commissions attendance and allow the Boards and Commissions Nomination Committee to resolve attendance issues;
(4) Streamline the Nomination Committee’s process for submitting names of applicants when a new vacancy opens within ninety days of a qualified applicant completing the application process through interview.
(5) Provide the Nomination Committee with the authority to resolve allegations of nonfeasance and malfeasance of boards and commission members, short of removal.
After much discussion, City Council voted 3-3. The motion to approve the amendments failed with the tie vote.
Events & Meetings
Tourism Advisory Commission Meeting
The Tourism Advisory Commission met on Thursday, January 11. Discussion included identifying tourism priorities for existing facilities and the approval of international cooperative marketing opportunities available through the Arizona Office of Tourism Coop and Brand USA. This collaboration is the nation’s first public-private partnership to promote travel to the US. The collaboration has marketing initiatives in 40 markets reaching more than 90% of inbound travel to the US. In addition to these items, staff stated the city’s website has been updated to include the new Sports & Tourism department.
Arizona Charter Academy Spelling Bee
On Friday, January 12, I was asked to judge the spelling bee competition at Arizona Charter Academy. Congratulations to the following winners:
1st Place: Alexis Kohatsu
2nd Place: Confidence Nkol
3rd Place: Sister Nkol
Grade Level Winners:
1st grade: Alan Castillo
2nd grade: Amani Glover
3rd grade: Emmanuel Etukudoh
4th grade: Divine Etukudoh
5th grade: Christopher Buenaventura
6th grade: Johanna Delgado
7th grade: Alexis Kohatsu
8th grade: Confidence Nkol
Mark Your Calendar
Sunday in the Park
The City of Surprise and State 48 Brewery are partnering to add food trucks and craft beer once again for the Sundays in the Park concert series. Event admission is free. Food and drinks are available for purchase. There will be 15 delicious food trucks as well as an assortment of craft beers provided by State 48 Brewery and live music. This is a great event for the entire family. There will be free face painting and bounce house along with several other fun activities for children.
The event is this Sunday, January 21 at 8 Acre Park, 15850 N. Bullard Avenue from 12 noon until 4 pm.
City Schedules Meetings to Discuss Future Development in OTS
As a follow-up to the implementation of the Heritage Overlay District in the city’s Original Town Site (OTS), the city is hosting public engagement meetings in January and February to discuss new development opportunities in the area. Most meetings will be held in the Roy Villanueva Recreation Center, 15660 N. Hollyhock Street, at 6 p.m. on the following dates:
Monday, January 22 (CRS Advisory Board Meeting, City Hall- Community Room, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza); Wednesday, February 7; Wednesday, February 28
City staff and development partners will present information about future housing, recreation and retail amenities that are being considered for the OTS, in the general area bounded by Santa Fe Drive, Rimrock, Hollyhock and Nash streets. For more information, please call 623.222.3134.
Surprise POPS Band Concert
Expect big sounds from the Surprise Pops Band as they present a “Salute to the Big Bands” concert on Sunday, January 28, 3 p.m., Valley Vista High School Performing Arts Center, 15550 N. Parkview Place. Doors open at 2:15 p.m. The performance will feature the music of Count Basie, George Gershwin and other Big Band favorites.
The performance is open to the public and is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item. All Pops Band’s donations help support the Valley View Community Food Bank. For more information, visit www.surprisepopsband.com.
Did You Know?
2018 City Academy
Want to learn about the structure of city government, get updated on local issues and get to know your city leaders? Register for the 2018 Surprise City Academy! The eight-session academy offers the opportunity to learn about the city directly from the mayor, councilmembers, city manager and upper-level city staff. Plus, you will hear from city partners like Ottawa University and West-MEC.
The Surprise City Academy begins on March 5 and meets weekly through April 16. Most classes will meet from 6-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Surprise Public Safety Building, 14250 W. Statler Plaza.
It’s free to participate, but space is limited. Registration is required by February 26! For an application or information, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/cityacademy or you can contact Ruby Sitea at 623.222.3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.