Turnout low for Sun City West public meetings

Only three residents showed up for a Feb. 23 meeting featuring state legislators, leaving a lot of empty chairs. [Roger Ball/Independent Newsmedia]

By Roger Ball
Independent Newsmedia

Some residents complain that government officials lack transparency.

But two Sun City West public appearances by state and county government officials seem to imply that residents just don’t want to be bothered.

During the legislative forum session, the Property Owners and Residents Association of Sun City West and the Sun City Home Owners

Association invite state legislators to appear monthly before the boards and residents of the Sun Cities.

At a Feb. 23 forum, conducted at PORA, 13815 Camino del Sol, Sun City West, there were only three residents in attendance.

District 22 Rep David Livingston, R-Peoria, told the group that about 1,700 bills were introduced for the 2018 session, and now they are down to about 400 remaining.

One of the key issues facing the Arizona legislature is how to address the recent changes in the federal tax  code. The Arizona income tax rate is based on a resident’s federal tax liability. Since there is an anticipated decrease for personal taxes due to the $24,000 threshold, the state will have to do something or raise taxes to cover the decreased income, according to Mr. Livingston.

He also said there is a concern about turnover in the legislature. He predicted 20-30 seats would change in the house.

“It could be the biggest rookie class ever,” he said.

District 21 Sen Rick Gray, R-Sun City, is a former legislator appointed to fill the position vacated when Debbie Lesko resigned to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He addressed a question from a resident about solving the issue regarding Lake Mead water to Arizona.

“It’s the one thing that will prevent ending the session in April,” he said.

Mr. Gray said that the governor wants to abolish the Central Arizona Project board, which consists of elected officials, and replace it with appointees.

The legislative forums continue monthly, alternating between Sun City and Sun City West, while the Legislature is in session. The next forum is 8:30 a.m. Friday, March 23 in the meeting room at the SCHOA offi ce, 10401 W. Coggins Drive, Sun City.

In another meeting, Feb 27, District 4 Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman addressed a small group of 40 residents at an open meeting in Sun City West, sponsored by the Recreation Centers of Sun City West.

Opening the meeting to resident questions, he first heard from Sun City West resident Diane Cheney who asked about the county’s plans for the 53 acres it owns at the west end of Deer Valley Drive. The triangle shaped land is bordered by the walled Loop 303 to the northwest and houses to the south and east.

Mr. Hickman explained there are currently no specific plans for the parcel.

The property was offered at auction several years ago, but there were no bidders. A key issue, Mr. Hickman pointed out, is that the only access to the lot is through neighborhoods.

A few questions involved law enforcement.

Mr. Hickman said the new sheriff, Paul Penzone, established a program of developing a work ethic so first-time offenders have a purpose when they are released and don’t return to jail.

He also said the key challenges the sheriff faces are the rules imposed on him by the federal court because of actions by the Arpaio administration, the opioid crisis and staff turnover.

The current sheriff must demonstrate to the federal court monitors that the department complies with the judge’s rules for a period of three years before the monitoring can end, according toMr. Hickman.

The opioid crisis is also putting a strain on the medical examiner, he added. The agency is literally running out of space due to the large number of accidental opioid overdoses.

Many area police agencies are hiring, and they are recruiting trained and experienced MCSO deputies by offering higher pay and better benefits, according to Mr. Hickman.

Roger Ball can be reached at 623-876-2523, or rball@newszap.com.

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