Infrastructure needs, prospect of DDC vote top list of priorities for Scottsdale elected

Infrastructure needs top the list of priorities for elected leaders of Scottsdale in the New Year. (File photo)

A keen eye toward infrastructure needs and the possibility of a public vote for the proposed Desert Discovery Center top the list of priorities for elected leaders of Scottsdale heading into calendar year 2017.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane contends his focus in 2017 will be on improving the municipality’s public infrastructure.

Jim Lane

“The clear, transparent and accountable path to the funding of the capitalization and recapitalization of the city’s capital infrastructure projects with voter-approved general obligation bonds,” would be his top priority he said during an interview Dec. 20.

But Mayor Lane also points out Scottsdale has been through one of the must tumultuous election cycles in recent memory.

His biggest disappointment in 2016, he says, was watching the “political and social anger that permeated the thoughts and opinions of many in our city through the course of the campaign.”

“My re-election as mayor, by a significant margin, sent a clear and resounding message from the Scottsdale voters, in their belief of the positive direction of the city. I thank them for that.”

Mayor Lane says meeting with residents during the campaign, and talking about issues has re-energized him as he prepares for his new term.

His proudest accomplishment in 2016? “Connecting with so many Scottsdaleons through the course of my campaign for re-election.”

Economic development will be a key focus in 2017, and one of the city’s biggest competitors for tourism dollars sits just outside its city limits.

“The development efforts of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community will have an increasing impact on Scottsdale,” he said. “Maintaining and continuing to develop a good and cooperative relationship with the tribe will be significant and important.”

Scottsdale Vice Mayor Kathy Littlefield says her focus for the new year will be on lobbying for a citizen vote on the contentious DDC project.

“My hope is that the city council will agree to allow citizens of Scottsdale to vote on whether the DDC should be allowed inside the boundaries of the Preserve,” she said Dec. 19.

Kathy Littlefield

“If we do not allow this vote to occur, we break faith with the residents. Once that faith is broken, it is very hard to repair and could easily rebound to other things. For example, if they can’t trust us to preserve the Preserve, why should they trust us with bond money to upgrade our city’s infrastructure.”

The vice mayor says city leaders should pay attention to Scottsdale’s bond rating.

“Our success rate on bonding is not very good as it is;  do we really want to destroy people’s trust in us and make it harder?”

On top of her wish list this holiday season: budgetary restraint.

“It really bothers me when council votes for some politically favored capital project and approves the money for it long before the upcoming budget is even presented for consideration,” she explained.

“All issues should be considered together and prioritized for merit and need. For example, I would like to see some serious consideration given to selling the ‘80 acres’ of land that we’ve held for over 10 years now, paying about $3.5 million per year in debt service for the bare dirt.”

Vice Mayor Littlefield says the hiring of Jim Thompson as city manager is a milestone of note.

“The most important, long-lasting accomplishment of this year was the hiring of the new city manager,” she said. “Hopefully, he will bring some long-term vision, focus and stability to our city government.”

Vice Mayor Littlefield contends the city is still not listening to its residents, which remains her biggest disappointment of 2016.

“It does listen when it concerns the small things like litter in the alley or a new pothole in the street,” she pointed out.

“But when it comes to major concerns regarding the degrading of the quality of life in neighborhoods or the future development of the city as a whole, it does not. The city is more concerned with justifying what it is doing and denigrating those who do not agree.”

Along similar lines, Scottsdale Councilman David Smith says the city needs to better measure its actions in calendar year 2017.

David Smith

“My No. 1 priority for the city of Scottsdale is that we measure each action we take against the litmus test of ‘what will this do for the quality of life for our existing residents and the appeal of our city to tourists?’” he said Dec. 21.

“Next year, I would like to see the city finally demonstrate a sensitivity to our neediest citizens by repealing the local sales tax on food consumed at home.”

Councilman Smith agrees the hiring of a new city manager is city’s greatest achievement in 2016.

“The greatest disappointment last year was our council’s inability to compromise and agree on a draft General Plan document to take to our citizens for their approval,” he said.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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