Scottsdale narrows critical capital improvements as bond election appears imminent

Scottsdale City Council held a study session on March 26, which included discussing a potential bond election this fall. (File photo)

Scottsdale City Council is one step closer to determining its ballot fate after spending multiple hours combing through and analyzing individual projects proposed for a potential general obligation bond election this November.

The local governing board hosted a March 26 work study session at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., evaluating which identified projects should be included in a bond program, should an election be called.

The current proposal from the Council Capital Improvement Projects Subcommittee includes 59 projects for a cost of $349.1 million.

Since 2010, bond elections have mostly failed in Scottsdale. Their last successful bond election was in 2000, where six of the nine questions passed.

In 2010, a single question for streets, transportation improvements and drainage facilities failed; while all four questions in 2013 failed as well. In 2015, two of six questions passed, funding street pavement replacement and public safety for the fire department.

The CIP subcommittee is comprised of elected leaders Guy Phillips, Suzanne Klapp and Kathy Littlefield as City Treasurer Jeff Nichols serves as liaison between staff and the larger governing body.

Jeff Nichols (File photo)

“When we look at a $350 million GO bond issuance, what I want to note here is there would not be an increase in the current taxes that homeowners pay, and not only that, but after a few years they will go down,” Mr. Nichols noted at the onset of the lengthy conversation.

“You see, there in the fourth year of this chart, we’re paying off a considerable portion of outstanding debt, that will have a positive impact on their rates as far as being reduced.”

Public Information Officer Erin Walsh says during the city’s public outreach between Feb. 19-March 12, six open houses were held that yielded 211 attendees, 10,910 website pageviews and 5,285 individual users. Of these users, more than 4,000 responded to questions of “is this project a priority,” “this project is not a priority” or “I’m not sure if this project is a priority.” And, 975 public comments were submitted on individual projects.

The responses from resident input was used to prioritize the CIP projects. Additionally, the CIP Committee recommended the projects be put into potential groupings.

The first grouping option is coined “Scottsdale One.” It includes all the projects where public support was over 50 percent, and one additional project: “Build multiuse sports fields in the area of Bell Road to generate revenue and create event parking.”

Option two is coined “Three Project Groupings.”

It includes all projects where resident responses deemed “this project should be a priority” was over 50 percent; and the projects were divided into three categories: neighborhood enhancements, community safety and wellbeing, and cultural facilities preservation.

Scottsdale City Council is expected to finalize the number of questions and project groupings included during an April 2 meeting, with a call for the election on April 16. During the study session, it was agreed upon to push the timeline back slightly.

The City of Scottsdale, for many, is the crown jewel of the Valley of the Sun but failing infrastructure has become a point of political strife in “The West’s Most Western Town.” (File photo)

City Council direction

A number of motions were made by City Council members regarding individual projects, the timeline and the potential 2019 bond.
Ultimately, the council voted 4-3 to have one bond question, with councilmembers Klapp, Littlefield and Solange Whitehead dissenting.

A total of nine motions were made by councilmembers, with only two passing.

The two passing motions are:

  • Adding Item 21, Expand Via Linda Senior Center to meet Demand for Senior Services, to the list of identified projects to be included in the bond;
  • Approving the timeline submitted by staff, adjusting it by two weeks to allow staff time to answer the questions raised by Council, with the understanding that staff may be able to bring everything back by April 16.

Motions made by councilmembers which failed included:

  • Add Item 49, Build Shade Structure over Arena at WestWorld to Increase Event Revenue, to the list of identified projects to be included in the bond. It failed 3-4, with Mayor Jim Lane, Vice Mayor Linda Milhaven, and Ms. Klapp and Ms. Whitehead dissenting;
  • Add Item 65, Scottsdale Road Streetscape from Indian Bend Road to Chaparral Road to the list of identified projects to be included in the bond. The motion failed 3-4, with Mr. lane, Ms. Milhaven, Ms. Klapp and Ms. Whitehead dissenting;
  • Remove all WestWorld items from the list of identified projects to be included in the bond. It failed 2-5 with Mr. Lane, Ms. Klapp, Ms. Korte, Ms. Littlefield and Mr. Phillips dissenting.

Lastly, council directed staff to bring back additional information, options and recommendations regarding the cost effectiveness of solar projects, items 57-60, before a final decision is made on whether those projects will remain on the list of identified projects for bond funding.

Questions posed to staff included what is the lowest number for a bond, when does it make sense for a bond, and what is the right amount for a bond; and how much damage this year did homeowners experience that wasn’t covered by their flood insurance. Other questions were very specific to bond projects, including how many weeks will soccer fields be used if installed?

Top 10:

Editor’s Note: Each project yielded a different number of resident responses. The attributed residential supporting percent is not based on an equal amount of respondents, these projections are being used by Scottsdale to rank the identified projects however. Data by City of Scottsdale.

The top 10 projects with the highest resident support are:

  • Replacement of Fire Utility Truck to be used on fire ground activity and response to Hazardous Materials and Technical Rescue incidents: 95 percent, $782,638;
  • Replace Outdated Emergency Response Equipment for Fire Department: 93 percent, $2,057,000;
  • Replace Outdated 9-1-1 Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management to Improve Efficiency: 93 percent, $591,156;
  • Modernize and Expand the Police and Fire Training Facility: 92 percent, $4,227,262;
  • Replace Emergency Power Source for Public Safety Radio Network: 91 percent, $305,240;
  • Build a New Fire Station near Hayden Road and the Loop 101 to Improve Response Times: 90 percent, $10,470,043;
  • Renovate and Expand the Civic Center Jail and Downtown Police Facility to Meet Demand: 88 percent, $13,102,518;
  • Replace Workstations at 911 Communications Dispatch Center to Accommodate New Technology: 88 percent, $638,522;
  • Repair Lakes and Irrigation at Vista del Camino Park in the Indian Bend Wash: 86 percent, $23,512,804;
  • Build a new Fire Department Training Facility: 85 percent, $18,258,520.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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