IF YOU GO
What: City Council work session
Where: City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza
When: 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 3
By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
City staffers continue to work on a budget for next year.
To that end, city of Surprise Finance Director Lindsay Duncan and Assistant Finance Director Holly Osborn gave the fourth in a series of presentations for discussion on the topic at the March 20 City Council work session at City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza.
Their latest in the series of public presentations focused on upcoming capital improvement projects and potential sources of funding to accomplish them.
Capital improvements are projects costing more than $100,000 with a useful life of at least three years, as well as maintenance and replacement of city-owned assets.
Examples of capital projects might include building new city facilities, such as fire stations, while maintenance or replacement costs might encompass fixing or replacing air conditioners.
Projects in both categories rely on similar sources of funding, which vary from year-to-year, Ms. Duncan explained.
“We talk about these at the same time because they largely use the same funding sources,” Ms. Duncan said. “Unlike the operations, the capital varies much more significantly from one year to the next.”
Projected capital funding for the coming budget year is somewhat diminished as compared to the actual funding the previous year, with $53 million realized in FY2017 but only $47.7 million expected in 2018, a decline of 10 percent.
But for that money, city officials have already identified numerous priorities. Planned projects comprise several categories, including public safety, transportation, parks and recreation and water infrastructure.
High-priority public safety projects, which already have funding from the $59.5 million general obligation bond approved by voters last fall among various sources, include:
- $3 million for a 16-acre land purchase for a future shared police substation, fire station and public park in the southwest part of town;
- $9 million for design and construction of a 29,000-square-foot public safety evidence and readiness facility on city-owned land at 134th Avenue and Foxfire Drive;
- $8.6 million for a new, permanent Fire Station 304 comprising an 18,000-square-foot facility to be designed and construction along 163rd Avenue south of Happy Valley Road;
- $7.1 million to design and build the 14,000-square-foot Fire Station 308 at the southeast corner of Litchfield and Cactus roads;
- $1.9 million for ab 8,500-square-foot police training facility on Litchfield Road north of Bell Road.
Funding for the future police substation will likely come from developers’ impact fees as development continues in that part of the community, Ms. Duncan explained.
“Looking further out into the future, the police substation, which would ultimately be placed on that land that is being purchased through the general obligation bond for the future substation, fire and park, that is a project, which would be eligible for future impact fees,” said Ms. Duncan. “We have some cash on hand for that purpose and we would look at including in the study for the future.”
Topping the list of transportation projects are the design and construction of roadway improvements on Waddell, Greenway and Litchfield roads totaling $15.5 million, as well as the $10 million pavement preservation project, all of which will be paid for by the bond passed last year.
Among transportation projects, which do not yet have an identified funding source, are roadway improvement projects along Cactus Road and Peoria Avenue from Cotton Lane to Reems Road at a planned cost of $7.4 million and $3.6 million respectively.
Proposed parks and recreation projects, which were not funded by the bond, include $2.2 million for a public park at Rancho Mercado, a $6.5 million public park at Prasada, a $10 million competitive aquatic facility and $12.1 million for open space conservation and at trailhead at the McMicken Dam.
However, due to recent changes to state law, recreation projects and libraries are far more difficult to pay for, Ms. Duncan explained.
“This is one of those areas that was much restricted by the development impact fee law changes that were made in 2012, effective for 2014, that has severely restricted how we can finance our parks,” Ms. Duncan said. “This is an area where it is much more difficult to apply impact fees to really produce anything meaningful for the city.”
Renovation of the Northwest Regional Library, identified by a previous city study and estimated to cost $4.2 million, also remains unfunded. City staffers are working to find a way to pay for the project, Ms. Duncan said.
“The wish list, the need list, for recreation is actually far longer than this list would suggest,” Ms. Duncan said. “This is one of the categories that is the most difficult to identify specific funding for, especially with the impact fees being so restrictive.”
The impact fee reform passed in 2012, SB 1525, only allows for using developers’ fees on libraries up to 10,000 square feet and will not pay for books or equipment.
Parks and recreation centers are also limited, while funding for aquatic centers is prohibited under the provision, which was initially drafted by developers, according to analysis by Clancy Mullen of Duncan Associates published by the Growth & Infrastructure Consortium (www.growthandinfrastructure.org).
“The final bill still results in an enabling act that is one of the most restrictive in the nation. While the list of allowed facilities is broader than in some other states, restrictions remain against charging fees for parks over 30 acres, recreation centers over 3,000 square feet, aquatic centers, libraries over 10,000 square feet, and fire and police training facilities and administrative vehicles,” Mr. Mullen wrote in 2011.
Mayor Sharon Wolcott decried the limitation but said city leaders will continue to work to find funding to improve amenities in the rapidly growing community.
“It’s a crazy limitation that was put on us and it’s a struggle for us to come up with a solution,” said Ms. Wolcott. “But this is the place where we have to discuss it.”
City staffers will present more budget information for discussion at the Tuesday, April 3 City Council work session before the city manager presents his budget recommendation at the Tuesday, April 17 City Council meeting.
The panel will adopt a tentative budget Tuesday, May 1 and the final budget will be adopted Tuesday, June 5 with adoption of the property tax levy to follow Tuesday, June 19.