The Independent examines Scottsdale bond package: Question 4

A view of Scottsdale Road. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

A view of Scottsdale Road. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Scottsdale residents are expected to be asked Tuesday, Nov. 3 to approve a $95.9 million bond proposal the majority of Scottsdale City Council say will repair failing infrastructure, provide new technologies and help cover the costs of public safety facilities.

The Scottsdale Independent, through a six-part series, is providing readers with a breakdown, explanation and commentary on each bond question and its projects each week leading up to the November election.

The proposed bond package would cost homeowners 11.5 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation used for secondary property tax purposes. According to the city, an average Scottsdale homeowner living in a home valued at $370,000 would pay an additional $3.50 per month if the bond is approved.

The six proposed projects to be voted on in November include:

  • Parks and community facilities — $31,900,000.
  • Transportation — $16,540,000.
  • Citywide technology — $6,870,000.
  • Street pavement replacement — $12,500,000.
  • Public safety-fire — $16,350,000.
  • Public safety-police — $11,800,000.

The city of Scottsdale today carries $619 million in outstanding general obligation bonds, of which $331 million is supported by preserve sales taxes and $288 million supported by property taxes, Independent archives state. The city has about $3.5 billion in assets.

Question No. 4

Question 4 of the November bond proposal totals $12.5 million and is focused on what city leaders consider “Replacement of 140 Miles of Deteriorated Pavement on City Streets.” There is only one project within this question:

It entails the repair and repavement of approximately 140 miles of local collector and major streets throughout Scottsdale that have exceeded their life cycle.

Suzanne Klapp

Suzanne Klapp

Scottsdale Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp says city funds are limited for the repair and resurfacing of local streets.

“The City does plan for road resurfacing and paving projects through its normal annual budget process. We use funds from two sources: Highway User Funds from the State, and local sales tax revenue dedicated to transportation improvements,” she said in an Oct. 6 written response to e-mailed questions.

“These funds are limited, and must also pay for all our other transportation improvements as well as road resurfacing. This year, we have actually shifted funding that we have historically set aside for other improvements and used it to increase our budget for street resurfacing.

Even with this level of annual funding, however, we cannot keep up with the deterioration of the roadways. The overall condition of our street pavement, citywide, has been steadily declining since revenues decreased during the recession.”

Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips says city council is spending money in the wrong place.

“Not only could they have been planned through the budget, but other unnecessary projects like double lane roundabouts are given priority,” he said.

Furthermore, Councilman Phillips says Scottsdale street conditions are amongst the best in the Valley of the Sun.

“Although our road condition rating has lowered over the years it is way ahead of every other city in the greater phoenix area,” he said in a written response to e-mailed questions. “That being said if road quality is a priority it should take precedence over other more glamorous and controversial projects like roundabouts and streetscaping.”

Councilwoman Klapp says city streets account for a major portion of the municipality’s portfolio — something that needs maintaining.

“Our public streets are a valuable capital asset, the entire network is worth over $1 billion,” she said. “As with any of our capital assets, we need to invest in maintaining them over the life of the asset, or they will deteriorate. If the deterioration happens, the cost to repair the asset when it fails in the future is far greater than the cost of maintaining it now.”

Councilman Phillips contends city leaders need to take a look at priorities and be held accountable for meeting those expectations.

Guy Phillips

Guy Phillips

“The transportation budget currently has over $63 million, which is spread out among the many costs and projects of the city,” he explained. “As a council, we need to take a hard look at what our priorities really are and hold transportation to executing them through the guidance of the city manager.”

Councilwoman Klapp contends the time is now to fix failing infrastructure.

“We rate our streets on a scale of 1 to 100 using objective, industry-standard measurements. This gives us a condition score that we can compare over time, and with other municipalities nationwide who use the same scale,” she said.

“Using this scale, our streets had an average score of over 80 points in 2008. The condition has steadily decreased until today, now we have a system average of 72. This is still considered good, but any delay in addressing the downward trend leads to further deterioration, with the costs to bring the streets back up to standard increasing dramatically. Now is the most cost effective time to reverse the decline.”

Councilman Phillips says Scottsdale voters need to hold the elected accountable.

“Do you want to bail out the city bureaucracy by failing to prioritize needed projects over feel good projects or hold us to the fire and make the city take care of its needs before its wants?” he asked. “If you give us more money it will be business as usual and we will never be fiscally responsible with your tax dollars.”

Councilwoman Klapp points out the beauty and quality of local infrastructure is what sets Scottsdale apart from many Valley cities.

“Scottsdale is a beautiful city, and the condition of our streets is a first impression issue,” she said.

“Well-maintained street pavement in neighborhoods complements other attractive aspects of our community and increases property values. Well-maintained arterial streets set us apart from neighboring cities and towns, and give a positive impression to visitors and tourists that mean so much to our economy.”

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

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