Tag Archives: city audit committee

January 2017 • Newsletter

A big shout-out to all my neighbors and friends in District 1 and throughout this beautiful city that we are blessed to call home. Happy New Year to you! If you are like me, I can’t believe that 2016 was here and gone in the blink of an eye and now we begin 2017.

While December was slightly slower than most months, I was able to attend a few events and meetings as well as meet with some of my constituents. I began the month at the Northwest Valley Connect Advisory Commission meeting on December 2 followed by the Christmas tree lighting at the Annual Surprise Party. City Council Members and their families were joined on stage to welcome residents and light the tree. Despite the cold, there was a great crowd of residents that attended the two-day event.

Mayor and Council at Surprise Party 2016

Councilman Skip Hall and I, as Committee Members, attended the Audit Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 7. In addition, this Committee is comprised of residents, employees, and the City’s auditor. Meetings are open to the public and posted on our website. The next meeting is scheduled for March 22 at 3:30 pm in the Council Overflow Room at City Hall.

I attended the “Tech the Halls” Holiday Open House at the AZ TechCelerator on December 8. This event was an opportunity to look at the latest advancements from Surprise’s technology start-ups, including electric vehicle conversions, water desalination and electric skateboards. Since 2009, the TechCelerator has fostered local start-ups resulting in 16 businesses, over 200 jobs graduated and a local Google corporate office. This year, the TechCelerator reached worldwide with its Global Concierge Services program which helps international businesses establish local operations in Surprise and has thus far generated more than 300 additional community jobs.

Councilmember Winters at Tech the Halls event

On December 9, most of City Council and members of the Planning and Zoning Commission visited the new Mattamy Homes Rhythm development in Tempe to look at their new models. The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the project to see if it would be a possible future “good-fit” development in Surprise.

The Human Service and Community Vitality Department hosted their Annual Holiday Party for senior services at the Arizona Traditions Ballroom, December 14. Councilmembers Jim Hayden, Skip Hall and Todd Tande also attended with staff.

The Arizona State Transportation Board, which is responsible for establishing a complete system of state highway routes in Arizona, hosted their December meeting at City Hall on Friday, December 16. I attended the meeting which included discussion on future transportation projects and a summarization of projects that were recently completed including the Bell Road bridge project which was mentioned several times. While Bell Road opened for commuters in November, the entire project, including the ramps connecting Bell to Grande Avenue, is scheduled for completion in February.

On December 28, I attended an outreach meeting at Desert Oasis where we discussed future development north of Jomax Road. Additionally, this year, there will be some new home building along Bell Pointe and immediately outside the AZ Traditions gate along the dam.

New businesses and restaurants have recently opened or will soon open in Surprise including a new car wash near Winco, a new Wendy’s restaurant, Panda Express, Red Line Grill, a new self-storage facility located near the Sam’s Club shopping center, a new Verizon Wireless store, Denny’s restaurant and a new Popeye’s. At a Council meeting late last month, it was announced that Raising Cane’s has plans to build a restaurant near the corner of Bell Road and Civic Center Plaza.

Until next time, please be good to yourselves and be good to each other.

Best,

Roland F. Winters Jr.
Councilman, District 1

July 2016 • Newsletter

Greetings to my fellow District 1 residents! I hope that you have managed to stay cool thus far this summer! Thankfully, the city has options to help with that like the two Surprise pools and splash pads at a few parks. As a friendly reminder, City Council is on recess in July so there are no City Council meetings or Workshops scheduled this month. With that being said though, I will still be attending other meetings, and I will have more time dedicated to my constituents.

The Surprise Farms Picnic that was scheduled for Saturday, June 4 was cancelled so I missed seeing and speaking to my friends there! I look forward to seeing you when it gets rescheduled.

I attended the Audit Committee meeting on June 14. The Audit Committee meetings are open to the public. I would like to extend an invitation for you to attend our next meeting which will be held on August 17 at 2:30 PM in the Council Overflow Room which is located on the 1st floor at City Hall. As most of you are likely aware, a former employee is accused of stealing city funds over a seven year period. Following a two-year long criminal investigation by the Surprise Police Department, a Maricopa County Grand Jury has handed down a 15 count indictment against her. The new Audit Committee was formed to ensure you that this will not happen again.

Our last council meeting was held on Tuesday, June 21. With a 3-3 vote, the motion to increase property taxes for fiscal year 2017 failed. It was my position that additional funding to hire public safety should be found within the current city resources and not funded by a property tax increase. City Manager Bob Wingenroth assured us that he would find financial sources and the public safety positions would be funded.

At the same meeting, City Council approved sending a $63 million General Obligation Bond initiative to the voters in November 2016. Following public input and weighing community needs, Council approved the following nine projects, which 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.

If the bond is approved, the constituents of my district will receive a permanent fire station at 163rd Avenue and Happy Valley Rd. The great firefighters at Station 304 will get the long-overdue permanent home that they deserve and also the fire station the residents deserve. We are in dire need of a permanent fire station because of the increasing construction occurring in this area.

Additional educational public meetings will be scheduled ahead of the November 8 General Election. I encourage you to attend. 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.

We are proud to announce that a new emergency room recently opened in our city! The Dignity Health facility, located at 14267 W. Bell Road, hosted their ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 23. This free standing emergency room is fully staffed with necessary technology.

Members of Dignity Health and Surprise City Council at new ER facility for ribbon cutting

On Friday June 24, I attended the Northwest Valley Connect Advisory Board Meeting, of which I am a member. I saw a fantastic presentation by Jeffrey Tourdot, from Maricopa County Senior and Adult Services, demonstrating how they help the seniors and the disabled by providing meals, health care and transportation.

Police Commander John Poorte
Police Commander John Poorte

The Surprise Police Department hosted a retirement ceremony for Police Commander John Poorte on Thursday, June 30. Commander Poorte is retiring after almost 24 years of service to our city. Best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement, John!

ADOT reports that work to install girders for the Bell Road overpass at Grand Avenue resumed Tuesday, July 5.

The installation had been on hold since June 9, when a large, steel-reinforced concrete girder fell moments after it had been lifted into place by cranes. An employee of a contractor working on the project was seriously injured but is recovering.

While the Arizona Department of Transportation and the project contractor have investigated, a precise reason for the accident has not been determined.

The 29 girders in place as of June 9, as well as the remaining girders to be installed, have been found to be structurally sound. A replacement girder was manufactured. ADOT has found no evidence that materials used to manufacture the girder that fell contributed to the accident.

In all, the overpass will have 89 steel-reinforced concrete girders ranging from 67 to 158 feet in length and weighing up to 90,000 pounds each.

The project team plans to complete this stage of girder installation by Sunday, July 10. Grand Avenue will be narrowed to one lane in each direction between Dysart and Litchfield roads from 8 p.m. Thursday, July 7, to 5 a.m. Friday, July 8, and again from 8 p.m. Friday, July 8, to noon Sunday, July 10, when girder placement is taking place on the bridge span closest to the roadway.

The Bell Road overpass, traveling over both Grand Avenue and the nearby BNSF Railway tracks, is scheduled to open to traffic by November. For project information, visit www.azdot.gov/BellAndGrand.

Bell & Grand Construction progress images

Lastly, the night of my monthly meeting has been changed to the second Friday night of the month. My meetings will be held from 7 pm until 8:30 pm at the Retreat at Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. At the gate, dial 0000 to speak with the guard. Please come and voice your concerns or ask questions about what is going on in our city.

Until next time, be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Regards,

Roland F. Winters Jr.

June 2016 • Newsletter

A big shout out to my friends, fellow District 1 residents and all the residents in this growing city! The warm weather months are upon us. Surprise City Council will be on recess in July, therefore, we will not be holding any public meetings. With that being said, we are still working behind the scenes getting ready to embark on fiscal year 2017 that begins July 1.

May was another very busy month – not just for City Council but also for our staff. We have so many great employees working for our city. Many of our employees live in Surprise! Sometimes elected officials are inundated with so many meetings, ribbon cuttings, conferences, events, etc. in addition to preparing for and attending Council meetings that we take our support staff for granted. Since June marks the end of our fiscal year, I want to mention one person in particular of the many. Jodi Tas has been such a wonderful person to work with over the last three years and I often say “she makes me look good.” With juggling my schedule, making appointments for me and my fellow Council Members, even helping with my newsletters, I need to say thank you, Jodi!

My highlight of May was the grand opening and ribbon cutting of IRIS USA’s new 420,000 square foot North American Corporate Headquarters located on 30 acres within our Southwest Railplex Industrial District and the celebration that followed. The event was so important to the city and our future economic development that the regularly scheduled City Council meeting was rescheduled from Tuesday, May 3 to Wednesday, May 4, as many corporate executives flew in from the company’s home base in Japan to mark the great occasion. The new facility represents a $33-$40 million investment, 100 new jobs and $800,000 of new city revenues within the first year of operation. IRIS USA is led by President Chet Keizer. Parent company IRIS Ohyama, Inc. is a Japanese-based company and consumer products manufacturer with facilities in Wisconsin and Texas.


In a Special City Council meeting held on Thursday, May 5, City Council unanimously approved a settlement to end litigation between the city and Surprise Center Development Company, which owns most of the land around the Civic Center Campus at Litchfield and Bell Roads. Both parties are pleased to have finally come to terms on a settlement which achieves a full and final release of claims and believe this solidifies a partnership that will result in the development of a vibrant and engaging downtown in Surprise!

By now, everyone should have knowledge that the city is exploring options for funding capital improvements and considering a proposed $60 million 2016 General Obligation (GO) Bond. The money would fund capital improvement projects around Surprise over the next five years – from new fire stations to serve our growing city; to recreational amenities that promote community wellness; to road improvements that will create a more connected city. Several public meetings were held throughout the city in May to provide additional information and provide opportunities for questions and answers for our residents. City Council will consider and discuss what possible projects that would be included in a possible GO bond on June 7 and then vote whether or not to send the proposal to the November 2016 Election Ballot for voters to decide at our June 21 meeting.

I met with some of our Community and Recreation Services (CRS) staff on the morning of May 14 to determine how we can improve the beautiful parks we have in the Asante community located in the northern portion of District 1.

The City’s Audit Committee met on Thursday, May 19. I briefly discussed the City Manager’s new committee in my newsletter last month. These meetings are open to the public and held in the Council Overflow Room located on the first level of City Hall. The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 15 at 2:30 pm. The dates and agendas for these meetings can be found on the city calendar events page at surpriseaz.gov.

WESTMARC’s Economic Development Summit was held on May 19 at the Glendale Civic Center. Governor Doug Ducey was the keynote speaker. I had a chance to chat with him prior to the start of the program. The Governor is very supportive of small business and he inspires them to be successful. After our conversation, the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery stated “I used to sell ice cream!”

I hosted my last Friday Night Chat on Friday, May 20 until August. Due to scheduling conflicts, I have changed my regularly scheduled chats from the third Friday of each month to the second Friday of each month. Please take note of the change. The next chat will be held on Friday, August 12 at the Retreat Community Center at Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherly Drive. I will not be hosting meetings in June or July.

To recognize one of our previous city managers and the instrumental role he played in our city, we celebrated Dick McComb Wednesday, May 25. It was a nostalgic evening event filled with laughter and tears for our employees and residents. Mr. McComb was our City Manager during Surprise’s infancy and due to his leadership and vision we have grown to what we are today. As a newcomer to Surprise, I was envious that I didn’t have the opportunity to make those memories with him. The evening was filled with residents who had put down roots in Surprise, former council members and even a former Mayor. Thank you, Mr. McComb!

On May 26, I was honored to attend the promotion ceremony for some of our local heroes at the Surprise Police Department. Newly promoted are Enemecio Felix (Sergeant), Steve Turchin (Public Safety Communications Supervisor), and David Wood (Public Safety Communications Supervisor). For a moment, I’d like to congratulate Police Chief Terry Young for the great job that he is doing. I have been to a number of HOA meetings with residents with Chief Young and I was very impressed not only with his police work but the way he interacts with people. He is hired to PROTECT and LEAD his team. He is always very articulate, honest and straight forward, whether he is addressing our residents or the people that work for him.

Well, I’ll close for now and I hope to see some familiar faces along with the new ones at my next Friday night chat, August 12th. Until next month! As always be good to yourself, and be good to each other.

Regards,

Roland F. Winters Jr.