McLaren: Unanimous council support is crucial to pass Scottsdale bond election

The City Council Capital Improvements Plan Subcommittee has recommended that the full council approves a General Obligation bond election that would be held in November 2019.

Alex McLaren

This is a major step in the process.

The subcommittee and city staff have worked hard to develop a reasonable, implementable and affordable list of projects that cover all areas of the city.

The city has just completed a public outreach process based on 67 unfunded projects totaling an amount of $ 436.6 million. There were six public meetings where staff were able to answer questions on the projects and there was also online engagement where folks could ascribe priority (or not) to projects.

They could also submit comments at the meetings or online. The information and analysis is on the city’s website and I would urge folks to review the results. Here is the link.

The input provided by the respondents is not a scientific poll of how all the city will react to the projects if and when they vote in an election.

However the input reflects the opinions of those who were concerned enough to attend the meetings and submit comments. The input reflects their views and opinions on the projects.

The input shows very strong support for public safety projects and given that one of the primary functions of all government is to provide safety for its citizens, this makes a lot of sense.

These projects were placed in a grouping labeled Community Wellbeing. There were another two groupings labeled Quality of Life and Cultural Facilities.

The groupings, done by city staff, is an attempt to group like projects. There was also strong support for many of the projects in these other two groupings.

The City Council will be holding a study session on March 26 in which it will be determined which projects should be included in the bond program (if called) and what groupings or questions should occur.

I have been involved in a number of bond elections that have taken place in the city. As a city staff member (1985 to 2007) I was involved in developing and implementing transportation and flood protection projects for the 1989 and 2000 bond elections.

Both of those elections were successful and the projects were grouped into separate questions, which had to be approved separately.

In the bond elections held since 2000, (2010, 2013 and 2015) the projects were grouped into questions and only in 2015 did the voters approve two of the questions (public safety, fire and street pavement replacement).

There were 12 questions in total submitted to voters in these three bond elections. Questions that were not approved include public safety (three times), parks and libraries (twice), transportation (three times) and flood control (once).

The City Council will need to decide if the projects for this bond election will be put into separate questions as has been the practice in past years. The council could also decide to put all the projects in one question. The latter option would be my recommendation.

The council made a decision in 2018 not to call a bond election. The voters were asked to approve (which was done), a 0.1 percent in our sales tax (for 10 years) in order to fund transportation improvement projects.

Also in 2018 the council decided to fund stormwater projects with an increase in the storm water fee.

The proposed 2019 bond projects do not include a category for transportation or storm water projects given the decisions that were taken in 2018.

In my opinion the projects that the City Council decides on this year should be put to voters as one question. There are projects that are located city wide that although local to the area, benefit the entire community.

Placing projects in separate questions that have to be individually approved could lead, in my view, to different sections of the city opposing some questions that they may disagree with.

We are one city and including all the projects in one question will clearly demonstrate that. We need a unity of purpose.

We have not had a totally successful bond election since 2000. For cities to remain dynamic and provide the best possible environment for all, reinvestment must occur regularly.

The council has just approved the agreement that will provide major upgrades to Scottsdale Stadium. This is a wise investment utilizing Bed Tax funds and contributions from the Giants and the Charros.

It shows the commitment to a reinvestment in a vital part of our Old Town. I totally support the decision.

The City Council needs to provide the leadership that is required to successfully complete the projects that will be on the 2019 Bond Election. I trust that there will be unanimous support by the council for these important projects.

Editor’s Note: Alex McLaren is a Scottsdale resident.

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