Elected leaders of Scottsdale discuss municipal goals of 2016

A view of the Gateway to the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. (Photo credit: Chris Brown)

A view of the Gateway to the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. (Photo credit: Chris Brown)

As the new calendar year marches into 2016 Scottsdale City Council members say their focus for the new year will revolve around finding ways to fund capital and transportation project needs while maintaining fiscal conservancy.

Three members of Scottsdale City Council outlined their focus for calendar year 2016 for the Scottsdale Independent newspaper, what they believe is the most pressing issue facing the municipality and what their constituents can expect from their leadership on the local dais.

While each has his or her own unique focal point all three interviewed seem to have an eye toward meeting critical capital needs while maintaining quality of life currently enjoyed by both resident and proprietors of Scottsdale.

Jim Lane

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, who is seeking re-election in November 2016, says the new year provides an opportunity to better prioritize municipal responsibilities.

Jim Lane

Jim Lane

“We need to plan to respond to immediate transportation needs by prioritizing the available & scheduled 2016 Prop 400 allocation transportation funding effectively and efficiently,” he said in a Jan. 6 written response to e-mailed questions.

“As a major job center Scottsdale is a significant net importer of personnel. By developing work environments that mitigate some of the commuter traffic including multi-model transportation options, we will continue to improve our citizens’ quality of life while still growing our economy.”

Mayor Lane says he wants to ensure Scottsdale residents believe in public policy created at the city council level.

“To promote public policy that unites Scottsdalians and creates a pride in our community for our shared accomplishments and our unique quality of life,” he said of one of his focuses for calendar year 2016.

Mayor Lane says he has three target area goals within city hall. They are:

  • Reassessment and reallocation of the city’s available capital resources to meet critical capital infrastructure needs.
  • Critical review of all uses of our citizens’ resources, all proposed city laws and regulations, and performance of all city service.
  • The impact of the evolution of our city’s marketplace on our residents’ investment.

Mayor Lane says he hopes his message resonates with voters this November as he says he continues to work toward brining economic growth in a stable and sustainable way.

“The citizens’ show of their faith in my leadership over the past seven years as mayor with a vote for my re-election,” he says of what he hopes will be one of his 2016 accomplishments as a member of city council. “Enthusiasm to bring out Scottsdale’s best and yet cautious to grow in a stable and sustainable way.”

Kathy Littlefield

Scottsdale Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield says the pending decision of Desert Discovery Center desert appreciation center is something that will be her immediate focus for calendar year 2016.

Kathy Littlefield

Kathy Littlefield

“It’s a matter of trust,” she said in a Jan. 6 written response to e-mailed questions.

“I don’t believe the DDC fits within the municipal use master site plan guidelines for allowable uses within our Preserve. Therefore, the guidelines would have to be amended to allow commercial uses within the borders of the Preserve as well as to allow evening events and entertainments (including alcohol) on Preserve land.”

Councilwoman Littlefield says she will let the residents of Scottsdale determine the proper uses at proposed Desert Discovery Center.

“I will not agree to these amendments without the consent of the citizens who voted — repeatedly — to tax themselves to buy and preserve our natural desert,” she said. “We owe it to our citizens to keep our promises — and the promises of previous councils. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of their trust. How could they ever trust us again? On anything?”

Councilwoman Littlefield says she wants to see the municipality run on fewer tax dollars.

“I’d like to pass a smaller General Fund budget by reducing expenditures and transferring a larger balance to the CIP (fund) for some much needed infrastructure improvements,” she said.  “Also, I’d like to move forward on the 2035 General Plan by approving the new, improved and expanded matrix as suggested by the Coalition Of Greater Scottsdale and sending it out for public outreach and eventual vote.”

The special events ordinance in the city of Scottsdale needs to be updated this calendar year, Councilwoman Littlefield contends.

“This ordinance has not been updated for 23 years and needs a complete rewrite to include events held on public land, appropriate fees and fee structures,” she said. “And, a process by which approvals or denials of events can be appealed.”

Councilwoman Littlefield says her constituents can count on her leadership to remain steady in the new year.

“Hopefully they (residents) will see a carefully thought-out position on each issue that comes before council with my focus on long-term effects for Scottsdale and her residents,” she said.  “I am an independent voice and vote for the residents of Scottsdale, focused solely on the continued well-being of our fair city.”

Virginia Korte

Scottsdale Councilwoman Virginia Korte, who says she plans on seeking re-election in November 2016, echoes much of the same sentiment expressed by Mayor Lane when it comes to pressing matters facing the municipality of Scottsdale in the new year.

Virginia Korte

Virginia Korte

“Funding capital projects will continue to be Scottsdale’s most pressing issue, particularly with the failure of the 2012 and partial failure of the 2014 capital bond issues,” she said in a Jan. 6 written response to e-mailed questions.

“It is incumbent upon our city leaders and community leaders to communicate and instill the importance to citizens the need for capital reinvestment and understand the fact that funding millions of dollars of capital improvement projects cannot come from our General Fund.”

Councilwoman Korte argues Scottsdale residents support reinvestment in the place they call home.

“Over two and a half decades, I have witnessed our citizens overwhelming support of capital bond projects in excess of $700 million,” she pointed out of the historical support local voters have expressed.

“These projects funded our libraries, parks, senior centers, public safety, transportation improvements, cultural amenities, a spring training baseball stadium, and much more. The citizens of Scottsdale understood the value of investing in our community to make it the best it could be, improve our quality of life, and maintain a city attractive to tourists and visitors while developing an economic environment that attracts businesses which create jobs.”

Could 2016 be the time the city of Scottsdale contemplates new ways for residents to get around town? Councilwoman Korte thinks so.

“In 2013 Scottsdale, in collaboration with our hospitality and tourism industry, adopted a ‘Five Year Strategic Plan for Scottsdale,’” she explained.

“The tourism plan also calls for a transportation strategy, stating that ‘Connectivity to the region is imperative for the health of businesses and downtown.’ Scottsdale and the Transportation Commission are updating the Transportation Master Plan and are hosting community conversations around the need for a more robust citywide public transportation system that serves our residents, our workforce, as well as our visitors.”

Councilwoman Korte asserts improved transit connectivity will bolster the local workforce and naturally create more destination experiences for visitors to the community.

“Our Tourism industry continues to talk about the need for destination-type experiences,” she said. “Many community leaders have been working diligently to bring the Desert Discovery Center to reality. I support the DDC for many reasons as it has the potential to be a game-changer for Scottsdale and become an important anchor for our tourism industry, as well as one of the City’s signature venues.”

Constituents can expect a steady level of commitment from Councilwoman Korte in this election year, she contends.

“Residents will continue to receive the same level of commitment to our city as demonstrated in the last three years on city council and the last three decades as a community-business leader,” she said. “I will continue to be a strong advocate for the McDowell Mountain Preserve, downtown, the Airpark, neighborhoods north and south, residents, businesses and tourists.”

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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