Councilmember John Williams is joined by education experts to discuss the importance of increasing Arizona’s college attainment rate and a statewide program focused on measuring the success of our schools.
As September rolls in, I hope everyone is enjoying the final days of summer. School recently began and fall is rapidly approaching! It’s hard to believe we have completed two months of fiscal year 2017.
I am hosting a District 3 Update meeting on September 13 at Surprise Honda, located at 13270 N Autoshow Ave. I appreciate my constituents and thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas on future development! I share your passion for growth and I would love to see many of the amenities discussed. Please join me on the 13th from 5 pm until 6 pm as we will receive an Economic Development update from City staff, a Prasada update, and bond information. A tour of the new dealership has also been offered by Surprise Honda General Manager Leon Lee.
Completion of Cactus Road
After meeting with constituents and members from our schools over the last year, I am happy to report the completion of Cactus Road from 175th Avenue to Cotton Lane is complete! This pavement project provides additional east/west connection, in addition to Waddell Road, for the neighboring communities of Sara Ann Ranch and Sierra Montana as well as Shadow Ridge and Paradise High Schools.
Bell Road/Grand Avenue Update
Construction on the Bell Road bridge project continues and Bell Road is on schedule to open as originally planned in November 2016. Current work includes the building of the retaining wall panels of the bridge over Grand Avenue and the reconstruction of the eastbound Grand Avenue roadway. Grand avenue traffic is temporarily sharing westbound lanes while the old asphalt pavement on the east side has been removed and the utility relocation occurs.
Budget Approval FY17
The Surprise City Council approved a $271.9 million Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, at a Special City Council meeting this past May. Council approved a formula to fund 22 new public safety positions by maintaining the city’s property tax rate of $0.7591 per $100 of assessed property valuation. Due to higher valuations, that would generate approximately $165,000 in new money. The remaining funds would come from vacancy savings. The positions are as follow:
Police: 13 Fire-Medical: 7 Court: 1 City Attorney: 1
This budget also dedicates $53 million for capital improvements to preserve and/or replace aging infrastructure, such as increasing funding for the Pavement Preservation Program to $4.5 million.
Investments in communications, facility, information technology, recreation and utility infrastructure amount to $6.8 million. And $10.5 million will support replacing aging vehicles to enhance service and lower maintenance costs.
Beginning in November, the city will assume responsibility for billing the water, waste water and sanitation utilities. By removing these operations from a third-party vendor, the city will be able to provide more efficient operations and provide an improved customer experience. This service will result in an additional 11 positions. The ongoing utility billing budget of $1.7 million that had been paid to the third-party vendor will remain the same once the city transitions to the billing responsibilities.
The FY17 Budget also provides funding to add Sunday Dial-A-Ride service and continue Saturday and holiday pick-ups.
Great things are happening in Surprise and that includes several new businesses that have recently opened or are opening soon. Surprise Honda opened its doors last month in the Prasada Automall and Hyundai and Subaru dealerships are under construction now. Burger King opened a few months ago in the Walmart Plaza on Greenway, west of Loop 303.
Other businesses scheduled to open include the new Babbo Italian Eatery, Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, Dickey’s Barbeque, Ono Hawaiian BBQ, Firehouse Subs and a few more.
By now, you’ve probably noticed some important enhancements to the ShopSurprise digital marketing campaign! With more than 2,000 ShopSurprise subscribers and nearly 123,000 messages and deals announced, you are doing your part to support our Bell-Grand area businesses during the Bell Road bridge construction!
The Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce text message service provider, Dex media, recently scheduled a service upgrade to keep this successful campaign up and running, with a new feature- coupons sent directly to your email, no more having to click a link. That required a new text opt-in number, which is 85100.
Here are all the ways you can check out the daily deals:
- Text ‘ShopSurprise’ (one word) to 85100 to have daily deals sent to your phone;
- Visit shopsurpriseaz.com to view the daily deals online;
- Like the Shop Surprise, Arizona Facebook page and have the deals appear in your timeline; or
- Follow @ShopSurpriseAZ on Twitter to have deals tweeted to you daily.
A Construction Business Access Map is also available online to help you find the best ways to enter the shopping, dining and service centers to claim your deals. The Bell & Grand ShopSurprise daily deals are only available during the Bell Road full closure. The Chamber will consider a more comprehensive, citywide campaign in the future.
City Council approved sending a $63 million General Obligation Bond initiative to the voters when we met last month. Following public input and weighing community needs, Council approved the following nine projects that, if voter-approved, would be included in the bond:
- Two fire stations
- Police evidence storage facility
- Land purchase for a future southwest Surprise Fire Station/Police Substation/Park
- Public Works maintenance facility (frees up existing city locations to meet Police and Fire-Medical storage needs)
- Road improvements to portions of Greenway and Litchfield Roads
- Aquatic Center Expansion
- Land purchase for regional rec complex (sport fields, playgrounds, future rec center)
General Obligation Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest. The repayment comes from a secondary property tax, which Surprise does not currently have. If approved, the secondary property tax could be up to $0.50 per $100 of limited property value, which on a home with an assessed value of $200,000 would be a yearly maximum increase of $100, or $8.33 per month.
Additional educational public meetings will be scheduled ahead of the November 8 General Election. Meeting dates and locations will be posted at www.surpriseaz.gov/surpriseforward. You may also visit the website for a complete list of projects, renderings, financial impact information and public survey results.
Neighborhood Grant Program
The Surprise City Council approved funding to support the Neighborhood Grant Program that provides eligible neighborhoods with small grants to fund neighborhood events, functions or even some community improvements.
Recognizing an opportunity to encourage community engagement and further build strong relationships with communities in Surprise, the city designated $10,000 to support the grant program for FY17. To be considered, projects must meet the following program criteria:
- Provide a public benefit
- Result in a product, which benefits a neighborhood or the larger Surprise Community
- Be feasible for completion by June 2017
- Involve the benefiting neighborhood in project identification, planning and execution
- Emphasize neighborhood self-help; or be educational, community-building, or a public physical improvement
- Final report to due and presentation to the Sub-Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships and Grants on June 15, 2017
Additionally, a minimum of 5 neighbors within the residential area must sign the application and support the idea; neighborhoods governed by a homeowner association (HOA) must have HOA approval.
Interested communities should deliver the complete Neighborhood Grant Program application to City Hall, attention Jodi Tas, by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 5.
For more information about the grant, visit Neighborhood Grant Program or contact Jodi Tas, 623.222.1330.
Fall CRS Line-up
Registration for City of Surprise Fall Youth Sports, including girls’ volleyball, Babe Ruth softball and Cal Ripken tee-ball and baseball, began this week. Registration will be offered through September 24, with a special Saturday registration on September 24 from 8 – 11 a.m. at the Community and Recreation Services office, located at 15960 N. Bullard Ave. Office hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Registration will also be available online at www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.
Here’s a look at the programs being offered:
Fall Girls Volleyball League
Teaches the game of volleyball in the spirit of sportsmanship, fun and wholesome competition. An emphasis is placed on the development of skills and the value of teamwork. Age: Girls 7-15. (Age determined on or before December 31, 2016)
NEW Girls Competitive Volleyball League (15u and 17u Divisions)
While emphasis will remain on basic fundamentals, sportsmanship and cooperative participation, this program differs from recreational sports in that there are NO MANDATORY PLAYING TIME RULES. The competitive sports league will follow modified NFHS rules and is intended for EXPERIENCED PLAYERS ONLY. Participants will go through a skills evaluation on Friday October 14, 2016 and will be drafted onto a team. Special requests will not be honored in competitive programs. Any player that is not selected in the draft is guaranteed a spot in the recreational volleyball league. All teams will compete in an end of season, single elimination tournament.
Fall Babe Ruth Girls Softball League
Teaches the game of softball in the spirit of sportsmanship, fun and wholesome competition. An emphasis is placed on the development of skills and the value of teamwork. Age: Girls 7-16. (Age determined on or before December 31, 2016)
Cal Ripken Youth Fall Tee-ball
The road to the “Big Leagues” starts here! The Cal Ripken tee-ball program will offer separate 4-year-old and 5/6-year-old divisions. Boys and girls have the opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals and skills associated with the game of baseball in an atmosphere where participation and fun are top priority. Age: Boys and girls 4 – 6. (Age determined on or before December 31, 2016)
Cal Ripken Youth Fall Baseball League
Concentrates highly on instruction and emphasizes the development of fundamental skills over wins and losses. Participants registered in the Major Division will go through a skills evaluation and will be drafted to a team. Age: Boys and girls 7 -12. (Age determined on or before December 31, 2016)
The City of Surprise invites you to volunteer for the upcoming fall sports season as well! The Community and Recreation Services department is dedicated to providing our volunteers the information and confidence they need to have a fun and successful season. If you are interested, please complete a volunteer application at the Community and Recreation Services Office. For more information, please contact the Sports Division at 623-222-2000 or visit www.surpriseaz.gov/recreation.
America’s Mighty Warriors (AMW) will host the 2nd Annual Marc Lee Fitness Challenge in Surprise at Surprise Community Park on Saturday, November 5. The fitness challenge will include a 5K run/walk which will begin at 7 a.m. and the fitness challenge portion will begin at 8 a.m. For more information, please visit www.americasmightywarriors.org/fitness-challenge/.
The City’s 2nd Annual Veterans Day Parade is scheduled for Friday, November 11. This parade will travel along Bullard Avenue in front of Surprise Stadium. This year, the event will kick-off with a pancake breakfast and Veteran art show prior to the parade start at 9:30 am. I hope to see you there!
The City is currently looking for patriotic-themed parade entries for the parade. We are seeking clubs, organizations, groups or residents who would like to participate. There is no fee for participation. Interested parties may obtain an entry form online at www.surpriseaz.gov/specialevents or at the Community & Recreation Services offices at 15960 N. Bullard Avenue.
Arizona League of Cities and Towns
The Arizona League of Cities & Towns Conference began on Tuesday, August 23. This conference is a great opportunity to reconnect with other Council Members throughout the state, network with agencies who work with Surprise and help build the momentum the City Council has been able to achieve.
Part of this year’s conference included meetings with Cox Communications regarding digital contour and EPCOR regarding their plans to combine their water districts. In addition, I was able to attend several sessions including the impact of military bases in Arizona, education initiatives and much more.
City Council attended a focus group discussion on why our youth leave the State; Surprise was represented by our very own Surprise Youth Council (SYC) Member Samantha Salazar. Following the youth session, members of SYC competed in the Democraseed Challenge and placed third. The Center for the Future of Arizona and Arizona State University’s Office of Entrepreneurship partnered with the Challenge to foster creative civic engagement projects. Congratulations to our SYC team!
Councilman Skip Hall and I received service awards during the Legislative and Service Award Luncheon on Thursday, August 25. Congratulations to Skip on his years of service. I have enjoyed serving with you!
Luke Air Force Base Celebrates 75 Years!
Luke Air Force Base is the largest fighter-training base in the entire world, with thousands of military personnel working diligently to protect us. Luke AFB is one of the largest employers in Arizona with approximately 6,000 employees. It is estimated that the families and personnel of the Base contribute an overall impact of over $2.15 billion to our economy.
We are very fortunate to have this asset, not just in our State, but in the West Valley. As a resident and as an elected official, I am grateful! Happy anniversary to Luke Air Force Base!
I will be taping another Council Conversation regarding an upcoming education initiative. Keep your eyes on Surprise TV for more information!
In closing, it has been an honor to serve you the last four years. I am grateful, honored and humble to serve you for another term.
Join Councilmember John Williams and city staff at a D3 Update meeting, Tuesday, September 13, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
City staff will be on hand to talk about the November 8 General Obligation Bond Election; a current Prasada development update and a tour of the car dealership. This meeting is open to all city residents, not just those living in District 3. Questions? Call 623.222.1323.