Category Archives: District 3 News

Council briefed on possible General Obligation Bond questions; Call to Election vote set for June 6

City staff briefed City Council on three proposed General Obligation Bond questions in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation, at Tuesday’s Work Session.

The three proposed questions and projects, as presented to Council, were determined based on community needs, comments received from residents during the 2016 bond election outreach process, and input received during and after the Surprise Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee’s April 19 meeting.

Proposed Question #1: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $34 million public safety bond proposal to: build a Public Safety Evidence & Readiness Center; renovate an existing city facility into a Police Training Facility; acquire Land for Future Fire Station/Police Substation & Park; build a new Fire Station at Cactus and Litchfield roads; build a new Fire Station along 163rd Avenue, south of Happy Valley Road, to replace the current temporary station; and build a Public Works Operations Facility to centralize operations. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $26 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Proposed Question #2: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $15.5 million street bond proposal to provide funds to plan, design, construct and improve Waddell, Greenway and Litchfield roads. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $12 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Proposed Question #3: Voters in Surprise are asked to consider a $10 million street pavement preservation bond proposal to plan, design, construct, replace and improve deteriorated street pavement citywide. The annual cost for a homeowner would be approximately $8 per $100,000 in Limited Property Value (LPV).

Per City Council consensus at the Work Session, staff will bring back a Call to Election action item at the June 6 Regular Council Meeting. If approved, the three separate bond questions would appear on the ballot in a Special Election on November 7. All registered voters in Surprise will receive a ballot by mail.

View the May 16 Work Session bond discussion

City Council Work Sessions begin at 4 p.m. and Regular Meetings begin at 6 p.m. They are open to the public and carried live on Surprise TV and online www.surpriseaz.gov/surprise11. All meeting agendas are posted online at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting at www.surpriseaz.gov.

Let’s talk! D3 Quarterly Meeting- May 24

Hello District 3 Neighbors!

I’m hosting my next D3 Quarterly Meeting on May 24, 6 pm, in the Community Room at City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza.

I hope you can make it! There are so many things happening in our city that I want to share with you. Please let me know if you can make it, so I can add to the agenda to include information that is most important to  you.

RSVP by calling 623.222.1300 or email our Council Assistant Jodi Tas at jodi.tas@surpriseaz.gov

I’m looking forward to getting to know you better and chatting about our great city!

Thanks,

John Williams

FY18 Recommended Budget released

City Manager Bob Wingenroth presented a $336.5 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Recommended Budget to City Council at Tuesday’s Work Session.

The Recommended Budget maintains existing city services and identifies creative options to maximize some resources.

That includes securing outside revenue sources and reallocating the operating budget to provide new positions that address public safety, water and inspection demands. Two public safety grants (SAFER Grant and COPS Hiring Program) will partially fund a five-member Fire-Medical Peak Time Response Unit and two police officers, focused on community policing, through 2019.

The Recommended Budget also includes $49.8 million to support the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is used to maintain, preserve, and/or replace city infrastructure. This includes funding for pavement preservation of city streets, vehicle replacement and aging communications, information technology, recreation and utility infrastructure.

There are also two recommended financial policy revisions regarding the Minimum Fund Balance Policy for the General fund and the Stormwater and Workers’ Compensation funds that will provide clearer definition for the reserves to strengthen the city’s financial position.

The FY18 Recommended Budget will be available at www.surpriseaz.gov/budget.

Council is scheduled to vote on the final budget in June.

Ottawa University Announces New Residential Campus in Surprise

City of Surprise to become university town with classes beginning August 2017


Ottawa University and the City of Surprise today announced that Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ), a new residential university campus, will be opening Fall 2017 in Surprise, Ariz., expanding upon the university’s 40-year presence in the Valley of the Sun, making Surprise a university town, and bringing intercollegiate athletic programs to the West Valley.

OUAZ Surprise, 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza, will offer a full complement of academic, athletic and student activity programs primarily for traditional-age college students, including multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The university will be home to 19 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams, and will be working toward a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) designation. Upon award of the designation, OUAZ would be one of only four NAIA programs in Arizona. The school mascot is a grey wolf and the sports teams are called the Spirit.

At a dedication event this morning, Ottawa University President Kevin C. Eichner announced the university aims to enroll 250 students for its first semester of classes at the new campus, with a target of up to 3,000 residential students over 10 years, adding to its current 8,300 alumni roll in the Arizona market.

“Ottawa University has expanded strategically during the last 151 years and we are poised for significant growth and exceptional student outcomes here in Surprise,” said Eichner. “We are grateful the City of Surprise shares our vision for delivering a new model for education with an emphasis on educating and developing the whole person, and creating work-ready graduates who are prepared to be successful on the job from day one.”

Ottawa University is a private, non-profit, Christian university that was founded in Ottawa, Kansas in 1865. The university has been operating in Arizona since 1977 with campuses in Phoenix and Queen Creek, and has been serving the Surprise community for eight years at its current location as part of the Communiversity at Surprise, a partnership of higher education institutions. Historically, the Surprise campus has primarily served adult learners, which it will continue to do; the traditional-age student is a new market for OUAZ.

The future 35-acre OUAZ campus will be embedded within the Surprise City Center, integrating with the existing 250-acre City of Surprise Civic Center and Recreation campus. The school will also launch out of existing space within the Civic Center, allowing students to avail themselves of the surrounding city amenities, including the Surprise Aquatic Center, Dream Catcher Park, the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex, and Surprise Stadium, as well as robust shopping and dining amenities.

“Surprise is a college town! Our graduating high school seniors now have the option to pursue a college degree in their hometown,” said Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “This partnership keeps our promise to residents; after all, university campus development is part of the City Council’s Strategic Plan and we could not ask for a better partner than Ottawa University. This is a storied educational institution with more than 150 years of success and a 40-year foothold in the Phoenix market. They know us and we know them!”

Expansion plans for the Surprise campus include development of residential housing, an indoor activity center, dining and conference space, and new athletic fields, including a stadium with artificial turf for football and soccer.

OUAZ innovates a unique approach to education. In addition to traditional academic degree and athletics programs, the University places significant emphasis on evolving all dimensions of the student: intellectual, spiritual, physical, artistic, financial, familial and vocational. A key delivery vehicle for this approach is OUAZ’s Adawe Center, which pairs a life coach with each student upon registration who will remain with the student throughout their enrollment at the university, helping them identify and pursue their degree and life paths, and preparing them to pursue their desired vocation upon graduation. Another distinctive element of OUAZ is “personal growth days.” No classes are held on Wednesdays so students may take part in chapel, attend the numerous personal and professional skills development conferences and workshops offered throughout the year, take part in volunteer or service activities, and share a meal together with faculty and staff.

OUAZ’s unique FlexTerm academic calendar offers a 21st century approach to enable students to learn how and when they want to learn. Courses are offered in formats that run for four weeks, eight weeks, or in more traditional semester-length time frames. With this format, students will typically take just two courses at a time, allowing them the benefit of concentration vs. fragmentation (when trying to balance four or five courses in a traditional semester system). The OUAZ FlexTerm calendar encourages students to tailor their educational experience and investment to go deeper into their studies while also interspersing their classroom learning with internships, service learning, international and cross-cultural study programs. It also allows students to accelerate toward graduation in less than four years and even to combine master’s degree studies within their educational plan, enabling OUAZ graduates to enter the job market with a combination of degrees.

OUAZ will be introducing the Ottawa Alliance for Quality Christian Education, a network of not-for-profit mission-based organizations that are interested in supporting a Christ-inspired community of grace throughout their educational institutions and the world. The Alliance aims to reduce the cost of Christian education, increase enrollment at Christ-focused schools and encourage enrollment at Ottawa University. Scholarships for students; faculty, staff and board members; and, faculty spouses and student parents will be available.

Of particular interest for strong academic and service-minded students will be the prestigious Founders and Pioneer Scholarships targeted for well-qualified and motivated students who will serve with OUAZ to shape student culture at the new campus. A limited number of these scholars can begin serving the institution this spring by working with prospective students and their families.

“We are a steadfastly Christian, positively open and inclusive university empowering students from around the world and every background to become ‘whole’ people, to develop their passions and abilities, and be ready to face the world when they graduate from OUAZ,” said Eichner. “We are proud to be bringing a full-fledged residential university experience to Surprise and to our future students.”

The OUAZ leadership team includes: Dr. Dennis J. Tyner, Provost; Keith Johnson, Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Amy Hogan, Dean of Instruction; Brandon Fowler, Dean of Student Experience; Dr. David Barnes, Executive Director of University Advancement, Arizona; and Kevin Steele, Director of Athletics.

Additional faculty hires are underway, with a number of key athletic coaching positions already filled. Student recruitment for August enrollment has begun.

For enrollment information and to learn more about OUAZ Surprise, visit www.ottawa.edu/Surprise.


About Ottawa University

Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and opening inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution serving more than 4,000 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz. (opening Fall 2017), and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Phoenix, Queen Creek and Surprise, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; Jeffersonville, Ind.; and online. For more information, visit www.ottawa.edu.

City begins FY18 budget discussions Feb 7

The City of Surprise Fiscal Year 2018 budget-building process begins at the City Council’s Work Session, 4 p.m., Tuesday, February 7.

This is the first in a series of presentations regarding the overall development of the budget. This presentation will give a general overview of the city’s budget and review the calendar for the upcoming process. Emphasis will be placed on the areas of policy making that the City Council has available to impact the FY2018 budget.

The presentation will also discuss outside issues that will influence the outcomes of the budget process.

Future Council Work Sessions and Regular Meetings will include additional presentations related to budget development, including topics on Capital Improvement Projects and continued operating budget discussions.

This process will result in the adoption of a balanced FY2018 budget in June. FY2018 begins July 1, 2017.

Council agendas are posted online at http://agenda.surpriseaz.gov/ at least two business days before the meeting. City Council meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Work Sessions are at 4 p.m. and Regular Meetings begin at 6 p.m. All meetings are carried live on Surprise TV for cable customers and streamed online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseTV.

Councilmember John Williams Sworn in during City Hall Ceremony

The first Regular City Council Meeting of the New Year included the swearing-in ceremonies for mayor and three councilmembers, on Tuesday, January 3.

Sharon Wolcott, who was re-elected in the August 2016 Primary Election, was sworn in as Mayor of Surprise for a second term.

Re-elected Councilmember John Williams was sworn into office to serve District 3.

Newly elected Councilmember Ken Remley took the oath of office to serve District 4.

Jim Hayden, who won the District 2 council seat in August 2016 and joined the City Council, last October through a vacancy, was also sworn into office.

City Clerk Sherry Aguilar administered the oath of office to each elected official; each of which is sworn to a four-year term.

For more information about these elected officials visit:

https://mayor.surpriseaz.gov/
http://d2.surpriseaz.gov/
http://d3.surpriseaz.gov/
http://d4.surpriseaz.gov/

The next regular Council meeting is scheduled for January 17 at 6pm in City Council Chambers. City Council meetings are televised on Surprise TV and streamed live on the internet at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv.

City celebrates reopening of Bell Road

Commuters were able to cruise over the new Bell Road Bridge at Grand Avenue on their way to work this morning, as the Arizona Department of Transportation officially opened the road at 12:15 a.m.

The city of Surprise hosted a pre-celebration on Monday in the Surprise Marketplace parking lot to officially kick-off the 2016 Holiday Season and to thank the area businesses, residents and drivers for their patience during the seven-month closure of Bell Road.

“To the customers that continued to shop these businesses, thank you for realizing that they were ALWAYS open and for supporting them,” said Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “And to those that took a different commute during the closure, I invite you to come back to this area. No more stopping for the train and three new businesses have opened since the closure began in April, with two others opening this fall. Come check them out!”

Representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce also spoke at the event that was attended by neighboring elected officials, residents and local businesses.

As a “thank you” for supporting the businesses around the Bell and Grand intersection attendees received Surprise shopping bags, filled with vendor coupons and promotional items. A perfect reminder to Shop Surprise this holiday season!

The Bell Road closure was part of the ADOT US 60 (Grand Ave) and Bell Road Interchange project which began in January 2016. By closing Bell for 7 months, construction delays were avoided during two Spring Training Seasons and this year’s holiday shopping season.

The entire Bell-Grand project, including the ramps connecting Grand Avenue to Bell Road, is scheduled to be complete prior to Spring Training 2017 at the Surprise Recreation Campus. In the meantime, your Bell to Grand Avenue access remains on Dysart Road, east of the intersection and Bell to Reems to Grand, west of the intersection.

Fitch upgrades Surprise revenue bond and long-term default ratings to ‘AA+’

City Manager Bob Wingenroth announced Tuesday night that Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” nationally recognized credit rating agencies, has upgraded the city’s Excise Tax and State-Shared Revenue Obligation (ETRO) bond rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.

Fitch stated the “rating reflects a solid coverage cushion and expectations for strong pledged revenue growth.”

Fitch also upgraded the city’s Long-Term Issuer Default rating (IDR) to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.

In reviewing the city’s economic base Fitch noted, “The city’s 2015 population of 128,422 has realized a rapid 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past 15 years and its median household income exceeds that of the U.S. by 16%.”

In commenting on the city’s operating performance Fitch reported, “Fitch expects Surprise to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic downturns based on its ample revenue raising capacity and solid financial flexibility, supplemented by its ample reserves.”

“We are very pleased with this news,” says Finance Director Lindsey Duncan. “In following the financial policy direction as set by City Council, we have been able to do an amazing job of managing city revenues in a responsible manner and these favorable ratings verify that.” A city’s credit rating is important due to its impact on interest rates in the bond market. A better rating means the city can sell bonds to finance capital projects and pay a lower interest rate to the buyer.

The agency also issued a rating outlook of Stable.

View Fitch’s news release.

D3 residents receive update on city’s economic development plans; Prasada & bond election

On September 13, 2016, I hosted a District 3 Update meeting at the new Surprise Honda to update my constituents on Economic Development, Prasada and the upcoming bond ballot initiative.

Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic provided a community profile about Surprise. Surprise’s planning area is approximately 309 square miles which provides us plenty of room to grow. See Presentation

Our population has exceeded 127,000 with a median age of 38.7 and a median household income of $60,000. Our development areas are split between three main areas which consist of City Center, the Southwest Railplex and Loop 303 development. Our economic engines consist of Prasada Automall, Spring Training, AZ TechCelerator (our business incubator) and multiple international headquarters and businesses.

Strategic Plan development, a higher education initiative, retail attraction, small business retention and workforce development are among some of the highlights our Economic Development team diligently works on for our residents. We want more head-of-household positions! We’ve also heard our residents loud and clear with recent results from our retail survey – residents want Costco and In-N-Out Burger and we are working our hardest to bring them here!

Jack Rasor, Partner of WDP Partners LLC, discussed the current Prasada development. Three new auto dealerships have opened or will soon be opening. Prasada is also working with developers to bring higher-end homes to the area which will increase overall property values and increase dispensable income which retailers research prior to solidifying locations for their companies. Due to evolving changes in the economy and consumer shopping strategies, bringing retail to Prasada has been slower than anticipated. With that being said, the future looks bright.

Staff was present to discuss the upcoming bond initiative. Your November 8, 2016 General Election ballot will feature one question regarding the $63 million General Obligation Bond. It is your decision to choose whether or not the selected projects will be funded.

The projects include:

  • Fire Station 308 (SW Surprise)
  • Permanent Fire Station 304 (NE Surprise)
  • Police Property & Evidence Facility
  • Land for Police Substation/Fire Station/Park (SW Surprise)
  • Public Works Operations Facility
  • Greenway Road Improvement (East and West of Loop 303)
  • Litchfield Road Improvement (Sweetwater – Desert Cove)
  • Regional Recreation Complex (Location TBD)
  • Aquatic Center Expansion

Surprise does not currently have a secondary property tax. If the bond is approved, it will result in an estimated average secondary property tax rate of $0.4642 per $100 of assessed property valuation. For a $200,000 home, that would equal $93 per year. Learn more about the projects, the cost to you and election information at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseforward. A reminder that the last day to register for this election is October 10!