Recreation, Sports, Tourism make budget cases to Surprise City Council

Carol and Greg Doric watch the Texas Rangers play the Cincinnati Reds from the lawn of Surprise Stadium, 15930 N. Bullard Ave., on the first day of spring March 20. [Jason Stone/Independent Newsmedia]
This is the final in a series of stories on the Surprise Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Previously, we explored all the departments except for the recreation, sports and tourism and human services departments.


The budget ball is now in the court of Surprise City Manager Mike Frazier.

The City Council is awaiting his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 on Tuesday, April 16, now that all city departments have laid out their needs with presentations.

The final group of departments went in front of the council on April 2, giving Mayor Skip Hall and the six councilmembers a chance to digest the entire budget for next year.

The Community and Recreational Services, Sports and Tourism, and Human Services and Community Vitality departments were the last ones to lay out their needs to the council.

“These are more of our external departments,” Assistant Finance Director Holly Osborn said.

In order of size, here is a breakdown of those three:

Community and Recreational Services

What’s known in many cities as the Parks and Recreation Department (see former NBC TV show), CRS carries with it a budget of just under $14 million. Nearly all of the money (99%) comes from the city’s General Fund.

But the department also draws in about $2.1 million a year for fees it collects for services such as joining a recreation league or using the tennis or racquetball courts at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex, 14469 W. Paradise Lane.

That helps offset the costs to produce those services for residents and non-residents, who typically pay a little bit more to take part in recreation programs. That alone makes up about 43% of the department’s budget.

Another good chunk of expenses goes to paying for a large collection of employees. As one of the biggest departments, CRS has 61 full-time workers and more than 40 part-time employees, eating up about 44% of the department’s expenditures.

The department is also responsible for a series of upcoming capital projects already on the books.

It includes funding the Asante Library that will soon be going into north Surprise along the future 163rd Avenue corridor. Last August, council approved the $4.65 million facility, which will be next to Asante Park at 16755 W. Vereda Solana Drive.

On the lighter end of commitments, the department has set aside $130,000 for lighting at the Dick McComb Dog Park, 17894 W. West Park Blvd.

It’s also responsible for $375,000 for lighting the final eight courts at the Tennis Complex after council approved that funding last month.

City officials said future needs include the costs associated with opening and operating the new library as well as adjusting to the state minimum wage increase that state voters approved in 2017 as part of Prop. 206.

“In order to stay in compliance with that we need to make sure that we are increasing those wages,” Ms. Osborn said.

Other interesting facts in the CRS budget include it costs about $10,000 a year to maintain 1 acre of park. It also sets the city back about $1,000 for every minute of a fireworks show.

Sports and Tourism

The city’s Sports and Tourism Department is one that many residents might experience without even thinking about it.

That’s because all spring training games are courtesy of Director Kendra Pettis’s crew.

About two-thirds of its $4.4 million budget comes from the city’s General Fund, but 15% of the funding comes from the spring training ticket surcharge that doesn’t always make fans happy.

But Finance Director Andrea Davis said it goes to a good cause.

“When you go to a game and buy a ticket, there are those fees and surcharges that you pay,” Ms. Davis said. “A portion of that goes to the city to fund … the spring training program.”

The department employs eight full-timers and nearly 10 part-time workers. It will also have to adjust to paying a higher minimum wage soon.

One interesting cost for the department is $20,000 for an explosive detection dog. Major League Baseball requires at least one of those dogs to be on site at all spring training venues.

Unfortunately for the city, MLB doesn’t pick up the cost for the canine.

But on the bright side Ms. Davis said the city nets around $3.8 million a year from hosting spring training games. Plus, the overall economic impact of the Cactus League tops $600 million a year.

Human Services and Community Vitality

The Human Services and Community Vitality Department earns the distinction of the department with the longest title.

It contains the Neighborhood Services Division and Senior Services Division. It was created to bring together community, non-profit and government partnerships.

The department works with a budget around $5.7 million, with more than half of its money coming from grants, instead of the General Fund like most of the city’s departments. In return, about 64% of its expenditures go to services. The department employs 16 full-time workers and six-and-a-half part-timers.

Up next

After Mr. Frazier presents his proposed budget to the City Council next week, the Council can vote to tentatively adopt the budget on Tuesday, May 7 with final adoption expected Tuesday, June 4. The city’s potential $388 million budget for 2020 is a touch over last year’s $384.4 million total. The 2020 fiscal year begins July 1.

City Budget Important Dates

  • City Manager Recommended Budget: Tuesday, April 16
  • Tentative Budget Adoption: Tuesday, May 7
  • Final Budget Adoption: Tuesday, June 4
Editor’s note: Jason Stone can be reached at 623-445-2805, on email at or on Twitter at @thestonecave. Visit to see other stories in the budget series.

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