Scottsdale City Council examines potential improvement plans for 2016-17

Scottsdale Capital Needs

Photos are compiled with Independent Newsmedia file photos.

The Scottsdale City Council Tuesday, Jan. 19 was presented with a preliminary fiscal year 2016-17 capital improvement plan for the city’s General Fund budget and a projected plan for the transportation budget.

The council looked over a graph showing a variety of items worthy of General Fund allocation, as well as information on upcoming transportation projects in need of completion.

“You voted in November to agendize the city’s capital program, including spending plans and maintenance of capital assets, future capital needs and sources of available funding and any gap between needs and funding and alternatives for closing that gap that is the entire motion that you voted on November and this presentation is a result of that direction to staff,” said Scottsdale Public Works Director Dan Worth during his presentation to the council.

“We developed a first cut at a proposed CIP that we will be using as the basis of discussion today. And, of course, we will take your comments, direction and input before we come back with the proposed CIP budget in March when we normally do.”

The two funds are largely sensitive to sales tax revenue, and also have the greatest shortfalls right now, Mr. Worth pointed out.

General Fund

The starting 2015-16 General Fund capital improvement plan cash balance was $33.9 million, according to documents provided to the city council. After spending on “major anticipated expenditures,” the city is left with a $24.8 million cash balance.

The budget then gets a projected 25 percent construction sales tax added, that is to equal about $2.3 million; finally, the city receives “net interest in excess of $1M” that will equal about $500,000. The city expects to start with about $27.7 million for the fiscal year 2016-17 budget that will begin July 1.

The list includes 18 projects, 10 of which are highlighted as being “new projects or significant changes.” Items included are:

  • Fire Stations 603, 613 and 616
  • Granite Reef Watershed
  • Skysong
  • TNEC
  • Aquatics Chemical System Replacement
  • Indian Bend Wash Lakes Phase I
  • Facilities Repair and Maintenance
  • Payroll system replacement
  • Public safety radio system phase I
  • Public safety radio network lifecycle project
  • Police portable and vehicle radio replacement
  • Crime laboratory equipment replacement
  • IT-network infrastructure
  • IT-server infrastructure
  • CityCable audio/video equipment replacement
  • City Microwave Radio Network upgrade
  • WestWorld tent removal
  • Other projects with minor balances

“These are fire station projects that were, in fact, approved by the citizens and by the election last November,” Mr. Worth said. “Although, there are some costs associated with those projects that have to be paid for with general funds that are ineligible for using the bond proceeds to pay for them.”

Those expenditures are administrative costs for completing a project, as well as land purchase funding that was approved earlier, and some other money from design that has not been fully spend, all coming from the General Fund, said Senior Budget Analyst and CIP Coordinator, Sylvia Dlott.

Every capital project that might have been approved by the voters will have a portion of it that cannot be bonded and must be paid for out of the General Fund, Ms. Dlott confirmed.

The most expensive project on the list is the Granite Reef Watershed at $6.3 million.

“The Granite Reef Watershed project is in the current CIP with a total cost of just over $51 million,” said Mr. Worth. “We’re showing that as $23.7 million from the flood control district, $15 million from the Salt River Pima Community, $7 million general fund, and $5.3 million of proceeds from the last previous successful bond election in 2000.”

“Out of that amount, we have spent $1.8 million. A lot of that is the bond proceeds, but about $700,000 of it was from the General Fund money that’s allocated as a project. So that’s why $7 million minus the $700,000 that we spent yields the number that you see on the slide up here; $6.3 million of remaining General Fund funding.”

Cost control is a priority

One highlighted item on the list is the aquatics chemical system replacement, a project Mr. Worth feels is the one and only project the city may be able to include in the CIP that came out of the questions residents of Scottsdale did not approve in the November bond election.

“The reason that this comes to the top of the prioritization list, when the staff and the manager viewed the capital needs, is it’s an operating cost reduction; it’s a safety issue,” said Mr. Worth. “This replaces the gas chlorine system with a much safer system at each of our four pools.”

The projected budget is a presentation of the city trying to squeeze in as much as they can without running out of money, he said.

“So, with that, we could squeeze the aquatics process, from the bond list that failed.”

The additional highlighted items include multiple multi-year reoccurring projects such as facilities repair and maintenance, public safety, radio, police and portable radio, crime lab equipment, two IT projects and a city cable project. The city microwave radio project is a regulatory compliance issue, said Mr. Worth.

The last major item on the list is the WestWorld tent removal. The city tent costs $40,000 a year to maintain it, said Mr. Worth. It is about eight years old, and is going to need its fabric replaced within the next couple of years, a cost that would run about $1.5 million. Residents in Scottsdale have expressed desire to remove it, while Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction CEO Craig Jackson has requested to retain the tent as it is crucial to his yearly event.

Mr. Worth said it costs about $190,000 a year to have the tent. WestWorld of Scottsdale makes about $110,000 a year of booked revenue with the tent. For fiscal year 2015-16, WestWorld rented the tent out for 85 days, according to WestWorld General Manager Brian Dygert.

“We’re operating at deficit of about $80,000 if we keep that tent,” said Mr. Worth.
The city currently has the tent out for bid to be purchased, but has had little response so far, said Mr. Worth.

Transportation

The 2016-17 fiscal year transportation capital improvement plan’s anticipated beginning cash balance is to be $17.8 million; add in a 50 percent transportation sales tax, and the city will have about $28 million to use.

The transportation list includes 20 items; 14 of which are highlighted as a new or significant project. Included on the list are:

  • FL-Scottsdale Road to Shea
  • ITS/Signal Systems Upgrade
  • Redfield Road: Raintree Drive to Hayden Road
  • Raintree Drive: Scottsdale Road to Hayden Road
  • Raintree Drive: Hayden Road to Loop 101
  • Pima Road – Pinnacle Peak to Happy Valley
  • Pima Road: Krail Street to Chaparral Road
  • Happy Valley Road – Pima Road to Alma School Road
  • Streets North Storage Yard
  • Advanced Traffic Signal Control Cabinets – Phase II
  • Replace Drainage Grates
  • Transit Stop Improvements
  • Sidewalk Improvements
  • Trail improvement Program
  • Intersection Mobility Enhancements
  • Traffic Signal Construction
  • Neighborhood Traffic Management Program
  • Bikeways Program
  • Pavement Overlay Program
  • Other projects with minor balances

“Happy Valley Road, that, like the aquatic centers project on the General Fund side, is a project that was at the top of the list on the proposed bond funded projects,” said Mr. Worth. “The voters said no to that project. This is the one that if we go through the prioritization this year, was at the top of the list, and we felt that we could reasonably work that into the transportation sales tax funding, CIP, and put that on the list.”

Another project Mr. Worth highlighted was the “streets north storage yard,” a new project that gives the city the chance to purchase a potential piece of preserve land.

“Kroy Ekblaw is working with the state land department to position the land on the northeast corner of Pima and Dynamite for the next auction for the preserve,” said Mr. Worth. “You will hear more about that as we get further down through the process, but there’s a very small parcel of land; I think it’s about three acres.”

Mr. Worth says the piece of land was leased to a contractor who was using it as storage land. He defines it as disturbed land, as there’s a building and a wall there.

“It runs from southwest to northeast through that area and we are considering using non-preserve funds, transportation sales tax funds to acquire that portion of that purchase and then use it in its existing configuration,” said Mr. Worth. “That’s been a problem for us, because we don’t have an area like that or any storage capacity in that area.”

Mr. Worth says the small area of land isn’t a pristine piece of land, but the rest of it might be worth something.

“The rest of the land purchase, and I can’t remember of the top of my head, it’s 300 acres, but the rest of that potential purchase certainly meets the criteria of preserve,” said Mr. Worth. “The proposal, if the Preserve Commission agrees, is to buy it for the transportation purpose, already disturbed area, and then buy the rest of it which is a much larger parcel with preserve funds and it would be subject to the preserve rules and be a part of the preserve.”

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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