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.
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.
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.
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.
Roland F. Winters Jr.