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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017 the city council will have a full agenda. One of the items is a staff presentation on a light rail update. Here is the link to the staff report: https://destinyhosted.com/agenda_publish.cfm?id=45363&mt=aacc&get_month=8&get_year=2017&dsp=agm&seq=139&rev=0&ag=71&ln=2184&nseq=&nrev=&pseq=201&prev=0#ReturnTo2184

There are several points within the staff report that are worthy of note. In the Background section it states, “In 2001, the voters of Glendale approved a dedicated half-cent sales tax to fund a comprehensive transportation program known the Glendale Onboard! (GO) Transportation Program. Maricopa County voters also approved transportation funding the regional transportation plan in 2004. These ballot initiatives include a project and matching funds for a high-capacity transit corridor from Glendale’s eastern border at 43rd Avenue to downtown Glendale (my bold). Based on these successful elections, the city and regional transportation plans include funding to complete a high-capacity transit corridor in Glendale by 2026 (my bold).”

Sometimes one has to read between the lines a bit. A high-capacity transit corridor does not imply light rail exclusively. Among other options, it could be a beefed-up bus system. In the 2001 transportation ballot measure the exact route was never identified. Rather it identified a study area from Northern Avenue to Bethany Home Road. If a light rail route were to run along Northern Avenue or Bethany Home Road neither route would touch downtown Glendale. Any route does not necessarily have to go through or accommodate downtown Glendale. Lastly, there was no ‘drop-dead’ date for completion of this corridor identified in the 2001 ballot issue. Light rail is not an issue that must be decided immediately.

The Background section goes on to say, “…the ongoing maintenance and operations is a local (city) cost. Glendale’s GO! Program and $105 million programmed for capital costs (construction and design) and $3.8 million programmed for ongoing operation and maintenance in the 25-year balanced program.”

On page 4 of the staff report is a table that estimates Glendale’s share of construction cost for light rail. The least expensive which ends at 43rd Avenue and Glendale ( 1 mile) projects Glendale’s share of construction costs at $30 million and the most expensive ending at 61st Avenue and Glenn Drive (crosses over Grand Avenue and is 3.5 miles) is $123 million. Based upon the stated $105 million available for Glendale’s share of construction costs funds are available for all options with the exception of the last and most expensive option – crossing Grand Avenue.

However, Glendale’s operating costs are considerable. According to the staff report, there is $3.8 million available in GO’s 25-year programming.  The least expensive and shortest distance option would require $1.6 million a year. That $3.8 million would be expended in 2 years. The most expensive option and longest distance would require $5.7 million a year to operate. Obviously the $3.8 million GO programmed funds would not even cover one year.

Where would a shortfall in annual operating costs have to come from? It would have to come from the General Fund…you know the same fund that issues debt for the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for such things as parks and libraries. It could require competing against Public Safety (police and fire) or employee raises or any other departments for funding resulting in fewer dollars for other departments. The central question for residents may be, do you want to take precious resources away from other departments and capital projects to annually fund the O&M costs of light rail?

Under the Community Benefit/Public Involvement section it states, “In addition to improved mobility and access, high capacity transit projects can also serve as a catalyst for economic redevelopment along a corridor. The original regional 20-mile light rail “starter segment” cost $1.4 billion to completer, but has generated an estimated $8.2 billion in private and public investment along the light rail corridor.” That’s about an 8 to 1 Return on Investment (ROI). Okay, that sounds great but it should be proven by providing specific, verifiable data. How much was the public (governmental) investment after light rail was completed along with a list of specific redevelopment projects and their investment cost? How much was private redevelopment and what were their projects and investment cost after light rail completion? These ROI figures cannot just be thrown out there without some kind of corroborating data. To date none has ever been provided.

Lastly, on page 3 of the staff report under Cash Flow Requirements, it says, “With the relatively short time frame until Prop 400 funding program expires in 2025, it is not fiscally sound to issue bonds, but will rely on existing fund balances and local funding to cover these upfront costs (design, right-of-way acquisition and construction). Glendale staff has told us that funding these upfront costs will negatively impact the GO program prior to construction.” In addition to the lack of long-term GO funding to support  O&M costs, staff has determined that there is not enough GO funding available to pay the upfront costs of construction. This is reminiscent of Camelback Ranch and AZSTA’s lack of ability to reimburse Glendale for those upfront costs. “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” Do we really want to go there again?

I have always wondered why Camelback Road has never been considered the option of choice. Phoenix would be required to build from 19th Avenue to 43rd Avenue, a distance of 3 miles. From 43rd Avenue to 91st Avenue, a distance of 6 miles Phoenix and Glendale would share the costs; and from Camelback Road to Glendale Avenue, a distance of 2 miles Glendale would be required to fund construction exclusively. But think about it. This route would accommodate 2 major destinations: Grand Canyon University and Westgate. That is exactly what light rail is designed to do — move large numbers of people to specific and major destination locations. In addition, it would run through 2 of the poorest demographic areas in the entire region: Maryvale and south Glendale and serve those whose need for mass transit is the greatest. If it really does spur economic redevelopment these two areas could certainly benefit from that kind of economic boost.

If you wish to follow the light-rail discussion on Tuesday, August 15th, at city council workshop which begins at 1:30 PM and is the last item on the agenda, please go to the city website, www.glendaleaz.com and click on the link to Glendale Channel 11 TV. It is broadcast live on the city’s site and also on Cox TV Cable Channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Monday, August 7, 2017 the City of Glendale’s city council meeting agenda for Tuesday, August 8, 2017 was amended and reposted within the appropriate time constraints. The item added to the agenda is the city council’s consideration and approval or denial of the city’s sale of 13.1 acres located on the north side of Bethany Home Road and on the east side of 99th Avenue to Topgolf. The land is directly north of American Furniture Warehouse. The purchase price is $5,713,730 that will go back into the city’s Water and Sewer Enterprise fund. The land was originally purchased by the city’s Enterprise fund for a water treatment plant but became unnecessary when the city built the Oasis Water Treatment Plant on Northern Avenue and approximately 72nd Avenue. Currently Topgolf has two locations in the Valley — in Scottsdale and in Gilbert.

The major investors in Topgolf are WestRiver Group, Callaway, Dundon and Providence Equity. Worldwide they have 33 venues with over 10 million visitors a year.

What is Topgolf, you say? It’s the hottest form of golf as an entertainment venue for all. Every Topgolf facility has dozens of high-tech, hitting bays. One to six people rent a bay by the hour and there are free clubs for use in each bay. The average bay rental is two hours. They also offer a full service restaurant and bars with unique menu items that can be found nowhere else in the Valley.  There are private event spaces and meeting rooms along with a rooftop terrace with a fire pit.  Customers can find original content shows, simulator lounges, competitive tours and pop-up social activities. There are HDTVs all over the place as well as everyone’s ‘must-have,’ free Wifi.

You don’t have to be a traditional golfer to enjoy their activites. Nearly 40% of their patrons are non-golfers. Two thirds of patrons are male and one third is female. The largest age group using the facility is people between the ages of 18 and 34 (53%).

If you would like to learn more about Topgolf please visit this link: https://topgolf.com/us/ . I couldn’t be more pleased. If the sale of land to Topgolf is approved by city council the city will have made its first move to extend its entertainment district beyond the Loop 101 and signals development of the west side of the Loop 101 for further entertainment venues. It’s a logical progression that moves entertainment to eventually join with the city’s MLB spring training facility, Camelback Ranch. It also can become a catalyst for further commercial development between Westgate and Camelback Ranch. The west side of the Loop 101 has suddenly become a hot location for more development. Look for more to come in this area.

This is yet another concrete example of Glendale, and especially the Yucca district, as a premier location for development. Glendale is on the move…and more is to come. As the Yucca district city councilmember with what I hope will be a vote of approval, I welcome Topgolf and wish it much success as the only venue of its kind in the West Valley.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

After years of negative media stories about Glendale’s finances, nowadays there is nothing but good news as Glendale has regained its economic development “mojo.” Glendale is back in the game.

All of the new development that is occurring is market driven, because the city has not provided tax breaks or other incentives to the companies. Most of the development is on the city’s west side (the district I represent, the Yucca district) and surrounds the Loop 101, or is either in Westgate or directly west and north of that area. Because this area provides easy access to the Loop 101, other high-end development and Luke Air Force Base, this area has become the first place commercial developers look.  Transportation access makes it easy for employees to come to or to leave the area. Business decision-makers are choosing to develop near similar existing or planned developments. It’s a matter of synergy. Success in economic development breeds more success.

Glendale’s success is dispelling the myth that there’s no talent, especially technological talent, on the Valley’s west side.  Glendale is proof that it’s just the opposite. You can find a ton of people that are just brilliant on this side of the Valley and are anxious to work for a technology company.

A sampling of the development now occurring is clustered in four industries: manufacturing, medical technology, advanced business services, and signature retail and entertainment: 

  • Aloft Hotel will be the latest addition to the Westgate area with a 100-rooms and four-stories. It will be located at the southwest corner of Glendale and 93rd Avenues. 
  • Construction is now complete and open for business is a Hilton-brand hotel, Home2 Suites, located in Westgate, just northwest of University of Phoenix Stadium.
  • Dutch Brothers Coffee will soon begin construction on the southeast side of Glendale Avenue and 95th Avenue.
  • Credit Union West,a Glendale-based financial-services firm, plans to begin work on a new corporate headquarters building near 99th and Glendale. It is slated for completion in late 2018.    
  • The medical influx began with St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center (part of the Dignity network), north of Glendale Avenue on 99th Avenue. This new hospital has 24 patient rooms and a 12 bed emergency room and plenty of room for future expansion.
  • It has been followed by a new Dignity Emergency facility located at the northwest corner of 83rd Avenue and Camelback Road.
  • Now, 101 West Healthcare is developing a $30 million, 200,000-square-foot medical campus south of St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center on the northwest corner of 99th and Glendale Avenue. Plans call for physicians’ offices, surgery centers, laboratories, a long-term care facility and related spaces.

Elsewhere in Glendale businesses are expanding or relocating. They include but are not limited to:

  • Conair Corporation has just opened the second largest industrial facility (second to Intel) at the Glendale Airpark. As it ramps up it will employ 750.
  • MobileLogix expects to have 24 employees at its 6,200-square-foot facility at 5150 W. Phelps Drive this year, and double that next year.
  • Canyon State Bus Sales relocated from Phoenix to 5600 W. Claremont St., in Glendale, in February. The company sells, maintains and repairs school buses and specialized vehicles, such as hotel shuttle buses and prison buses.
  • The Iron Factory, a golf club iron refinisher, is moving from Grand Junction, Colo., to 7615 N. 75th Ave., in Glendale. The operation opened in July. It opened in 1974 and has since repaired, rebuilt and refinished more than 1 million clubs for professional and amateur golfers.

Combined, these new companies (plus others not included in this article) represent approximately 1,000 immediate jobs and 3,000 jobs at build-out.

There is more news coming but until these new locates are ready to announce, I am not at liberty to share them. Glendale is by no means done and has vast tracts of land in Western Glendale, the Yucca district, that can be annexed into the city as it continues to partner with the economic development community. In fact, Glendale is just getting started…

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Congratulations go to Conair Corporation on their official grand opening of their new distribution center on Tuesday, August 1, 2017.It is a remarkable achievement.

You could say Conair and I grew up together. Twenty-five years ago I began serving my very first term as the Yucca district councilmember. That same year Conair opened its first facility in Glendale. Part of my history as a councilmember is also Conair’s history in Glendale.

Here are some fast facts about Conair:

  • the corporation is 57 years old
  • its annual gross sales is $3 billion dollars
  • it employs 3,500 people worldwide
  • 95% of us have at least one Conair product
  • it owns 24 brands
  • it sells its products in 124 countries

Just a few of the brands it owns include Cuisinart, Waring, Scunci, Interplak, Rusk and Allegro.

Conair has had a long relationship with Glendale. In 1992, after the creation of a foreign trade sub-zone, Conair built a 300,000 SF distribution warehouse and minor manufacturing operation at Glendale’s Airpark. As a newly elected councilmember, I remember to this day, my first tour of a Conair facility and was impressed by its use of technology to enhance productivity.

In 2009, as the national Great Recession gripped the country, Conair in a bold move, purchased the KB distribution center and opened a national return center at the site and grew to 620,000 SF, double the size of their original location. As Metro Phoenix was losing jobs and the vacancy rate for industrial buildings soared, Conair, in one fell swoop with its acquisition of the KB facility, dropped that rate in Glendale from 16% to 9%. Once again, as councilmember I toured this facility and thought at the time that the facility was enormous.

But Conair has outdone itself with the second largest facility in the valley – only Intel is larger. This facility is about 4 times larger than their existent operation and will expand to 750 employees. If you are not impressed, you should be. Their continued use of advanced technology has made them a model for distribution facilities. Touring this facility once again in my last term as a councilmember will be my pleasure and I will be sure to request a motor cart this time around.

Glendale is very proud of our 25 year relationship with Conair. We are grateful to have a name brand/household corporation in our community. Conair has always been very consistent about their desire to grow their business in Glendale and we appreciate their vote of confidence.  It attests to the fact that long term relationships do matter. We continue to support Conair and welcome the opening of their newest facility.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, August 1, 2017 city council, after a month’s vacation (sort of), will convene by holding its first workshop meeting. There are 3 agenda items: presentation of the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocations; update of the city’s website; and further discussion of the proposal to raise water/sewer and sanitation rates.

So far CDBG federal funds remain basically intact with the city’s total entitlement at $2,270,348.00. With a new administration in place we will have to wait to see what new federal policies are implemented that will affect allocations in the future. We are moving into uncharted territory. CDBG funds cannot be used throughout the entire city but rather in specific areas recognized as slum and blighted. Most of this area is located in zip code 85301 (not all of this zip code has this designation) and generally includes downtown Glendale.

There was one area that received no funding this year and I believe should have. That is the City of Glendale’s Neighborhood Services in the area of Neighborhood Preservation and Code Compliance. The request was for $94,945.00. Yet it received nothing. This funding can be used to board up vacant properties, distribute ‘roll-offs’ to neighborhoods and for its ‘clean and lien’ program. The city should be more aggressive in these areas as all benefit neighborhood preservation. Boarding up properties and cleaning up vacant properties can be expensive. Even though a property has a lien placed upon it, it may be years before the lien is paid and in the meantime the city has fronted the cost. “Roll-offs’ are those very large garbage bins. They are frequently used by neighborhoods when they call for a general clean-up. They are expensive and the charge for one is somewhere in the $500 range. Many neighborhoods, especially those older neighborhoods without an HOA, simply cannot afford the cost of a ‘roll-off.’ In an effort to maintain these neighborhoods it just makes sense to offer them, free-of-charge, to neighborhoods willing to self-clean.

Community Revitalization has a set aside of $654,050.00. It would make sense to allocate $100,000 of that amount to Neighborhood Preservation.

The second agenda item is that of updating the city’s website. Goodness knows it needs it desperately but before council gives direction to upgrade, I sure would like to know what the cost of such an effort will be. The request before council will be to approve the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) and then to eventually approve a contract for web hosting for the city. I think a cap of fund expenditure should be provided within the RFP. Without that, the sky is the limit for all bidders.

 It also raises a question that I continue to ask. What is the purpose and mission of the city’s Information Technology (IT) Department? The city is about to embark upon the implementation of a new citywide operating system called Munis. As part of this contract, the city will be paying nearly a million dollars a year for support of this system. If council decides to award a contract for hosting its website that becomes another major area that IT will not have to support. It appears as if IT is becoming no more than a glorified support system for all of the city’s equipment such as PCs. As the city moves into cloud computing, IT will no longer have to support servers for the city’s operating systems. IT receives a substantial allocation each fiscal year. It’s time to ask what are we paying for?

The last agenda item is further discussion about water/sewer and sanitation rate increases. A little history is in order. For approximately 8 years there have been no rate increases due to the Great Recession. No one felt it was appropriate to raise rates during that period. The economy is now rebounding and it is time to adjust rates. In addition, during those 8 years, the cost of materials and equipment has risen as well as the fact that employees in these departments are seeing their first pay increases in many years. So, a case can be made that the rates should be reviewed.

I have several major concerns that I expect to have addressed.  One is the need for a less dramatic initial rate increase. Rate increases need to be phased in and gradual. Let me give you a real example. My June billing was in the amount of $100.44 for 21,000 gallons broken down as follows:

  • Water                               $76.92
  • Sanitation & Recycling         16.30
  • AZ Water Quality Tax            0.14
  • Taxes                                  7.08                 

With a proposed 7.5% increase in water in the first year, that $76.92 jumps to $82.69; and with a proposed 10% increase in water the first year $76.92 becomes $84.61. The $16.30 for sanitation could increase in the first year by 17% to $19.05 or 25% to $20.50.

Over the next 5 years a water bill could increase by 29% adding approximately $27.72 to the average single family billing.  The sanitation bill could increase by 52% or approximately $8.50.

That does not include an increase in the AZ Water Quality Tax or taxes on each bill.

These increases are dramatic and mandate that city council look at the proposed projects that rather than being committed to at one time are rather phased in allowing a more gradual approach to the proposed rate increases.

City council has historically adopted a tiered rate approach to water. Those who use the minimal amount per month would see the smallest increase. Those who consume the greatest amount of water per month see the largest rate increase. This approach was designed to uphold the philosophy of water conservation and to recognize that minimal water users are often seniors and retired on fixed incomes. The proposal as presented does not take this strategy into account.

There is plenty of time for further discussion. The citizen comments are very important to this discussion. The city is holding a series of public meeting for citizens:

Open House Public Input Meetings

  • Wednesday, July 26, 2017 Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center 6-8 p.m. 11550 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, AZ 85307
  • Thursday, August 3, 2017 Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center 6-8 p.m. 5600 W. Union Hills Dr., Glendale, AZ 85308
  • Saturday, August 12, 2017 Glendale City Hall – Basement Level 10 a.m.-12 noon 5850 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, AZ 85301
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 Glendale Adult Center 6-8 p.m. 5970 W. Brown St., Glendale, AZ 85302

Lastly, citizen commentary from participants on the newly established Utilities Commission, seem to indicate that there was never a discussion of the central questions: do we need rate increases? and how can we mitigate the increases? From what I have heard the commission discussion began with these are the projects we must do and do you prefer a rate increase based on Option 1 or Option 2?

The city council workshop discussion of these agenda items can be seen on Channel 11 if you have Cox cable or live on the city’s website under Cable Channel 11 tabs.  It’s an important discussion.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In the context of the current discussion about the proposed Stonehaven residential development many readers have asked me to repost this blog.

Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state. Here is the ranking of the ten largest cities in the state:

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Glendale
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Peoria

Glendale has the lowest average median income of the 10 largest cities.

Glendale has the second highest poverty rate of those 10 cities.

Another media story shows that of the 25 wealthiest zip codes in Maricopa County Glendale has but one…85310…ranked 24th out of 25.

Glendale is a very diverse community:

  •     Caucasian                     50%
  •     Hispanic or Latino       37%
  •     Afro-American               6%
  •     Asian                                4%

Today we are going to examine why these facts drive development (or the lack of it) and also what needs to occur in order to improve or “upgrade” Glendale development to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and also make Glendale more competitive obtaining quality commercial/residential projects.

What can Glendale do to turn these numbers around? How does Glendale raise the average median income, lower its poverty rate and have more of its zip codes labeled as “the wealthiest”? It must embrace a new strategy toward future development and a new strategy to remediate some of its struggling neighborhoods.

So let us add some new facts and start to look for effective and reasonable solutions to Upgrade Glendale.

A square mile between Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road; 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue; in zip code 85301 is ringed by 10…yes, 10…low income multi-family apartment complexes? Were you aware that the density of package liquor stores and bars is the highest in zip code 85301? In an effort to upgrade south Glendale shouldn’t Council and the Planning Department be asking, when any developer or business seeks to locate in this area, does this project upgrade the area? Does it serve a family-oriented need? Does this project make the quality of life better for these neighborhoods or are we simply allowing more of the same because it’s easier not to fight the fight for quality commercial and residential development? If developers say they will walk away from a project because that is all that a certain area merits, perhaps the new Glendale paradigm is to let them. If we develop new standards of quality development and advise the development community that is what we expect and will allow, then that is what we will get.

The majority of Glendale’s residential base is comprised of starter homes and middle class homes. The home median value in Glendale is $183,300. Many new residential developments have a price point between $220,000 and $250,000. To some that may seem to be expensive but it is not in today’s market.

Where does one find big, beautiful, expensive homes on large lots? Why, zip code 85310. You can count on no more than two hands enclaves of large lot, expensive homes throughout Glendale. It is time to stop allowing the development community  build to the lowest common denominator of an area and demand that they build adhering to a philosophy of upgrading, not downgrading or adding more of the same in an area.

Glendale must stop allowing developers of infill projects greater and greater residential densities. I once learned that Glendale loses approximately $200 a year per home when providing basic services such as public safety, libraries, parks, streets, water, sewer and garbage collection. What that means is that Glendale spends more in services per home than that home earns in revenue for the city in terms of property taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, how is this imbalance made up? By commercial development with the property taxes and the sales taxes they pay to the city. I’m sure the figure has changed and I don’t know the current number however I plan on asking staff for a new current assessment.

Upscale businesses offering high paying jobs go a long way to offsetting the loss of revenue from the city’s cost of providing its basic services to homes. So how can we get the Intel’s of the world to locate in Glendale?

The quality of its workforce is the life’s blood of any major corporation. These corporations desire to locate where they can attract a highly educated, skilled employee base.

That’s where Glendale’s schools play a major role and unfortunately it is an area over which Glendale has no control. Many, not all, of Glendale’s schools have underperforming high school graduation rates with much of their student populations not moving on to college or technical training. Glendale’s primary and secondary educational system is failing to prepare students to become college or technically bound. They are failing to help the city to attract the quality work force needed to attract the Intel’s. The kinds of corporations we must seek to attract have employees who want to be assured that their children will have access to outstanding educational opportunities. These employees also seek quality, upscale housing with great quality of life amenities. They also require nearby access not just to fast food establishments but to upscale dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities. While a smattering of those kinds of quality of life issues are met in a few Glendale enclaves there is not enough of a mass to attract the kinds of employment providers the city seeks.

I contend a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isn’t it time to upgrade every Glendale resident’s quality of life? Isn’t it time to provide our residents with an abundance of good paying job opportunities? Shouldn’t it be in safe neighborhoods? Shouldn’t it be with Class A dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities throughout all of Glendale? We can do that by insisting and conveying to developers of commercial and residential properties that whether it is an infill parcel or raw land, our expectations for development are stringent. That Glendale now demands a new forward looking vision.

In a coming blog we will examine how Glendale government can move past prior history, Glendale school districts may help both their students now and after graduation and residents can actively engage in this new vision.

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Hold on to your hats, folks. This will be a rather long opinion piece as I have much to say.

I am mindfully aware that one of the prime directives of my job as a councilmember is to represent my constituency…the residents of the Yucca district. Their voice is my voice. They do not possess the power, money and privilege of the pro-Stonehaven contingent. Over 1,000 of my district residents have signed a petition in opposition to Stonehaven’s latest version of its proposed residential plan. These are the people who live in adjoining neighborhoods and will receive the full negative brunt of this proposal. They are the people for whom I speak.

Since this is my last term as a councilmember I possess a precious freedom that no others serving on Glendale’s council may have and that is, complete freedom. I can advocate for and take positions that I believe to be right without fear of retribution when the next election season rolls around. In this context, the opinions I am about to express regarding the Stonehaven application are mine and offered without fear or favor. Some will agree and others will disagree. That is to be expected.

Just as we have all heard of the Washington “establishment” aimed at protecting its power, money and privilege, every community in the country, large or small, has its own version of the “establishment.” Glendale is no different.

Lately, the local Chamber, the local newspaper and the local fire union (no surprise there) have announced their support for the latest iteration of Stonehaven. They all represent elements of Glendale’s “establishment.” The “establishment” circles the wagons when one of their own is in danger for that danger could spread and diminish them as well. All it takes is a well placed phone call or conversation with the “right” people. In “establishment” code it’s a plea for help with the veiled notion that it may be their ox gored next and if they expect reciprocal support, then it’s time to ante up.

Then we have the city’s Planning Department. I understand the tremendous pressure they are experiencing. When the Stonehaven applicants proposed 3,000 square foot lots, the Planning Department made it clear that it could not support the concept for Glendale doesn’t even have a zoning classification for 3,000 SF lot sizes. Hence the applicant’s quick pivot to 4,000/4,500 SF lots for Glendale does possess such a zoning classification. The Planning Department cannot be discriminatory and if it has accepted other projects with 4,000 square foot lots, it must be fair and do so in this case. You will hear the statement from the Planning Department that the Stonehaven amendment is “consistent” with Glendale’s General Plan.

But what you will not hear is that 4,000/4,500 SF lots have never been implemented on such a large scale. Yes, Glendale has seen small tracts of such sized lots and it may be used on small-scale infill projects. Hence the Planning Department’s statement of “consistency” with the General Plan. But it has never, in the city’s history, been used where 44% of a new 365 acre subdivision will have such small lots. It is incumbent upon the Planning Department to show where a subdivision of similar size and scope was permitted with at least 40% of the project consisting of 4,000/4,500 square foot lots. If that is their position I expect them to defend it with some relevant examples.

The pro-Stonehaven contingent is touting their $400 million dollar investment in Glendale implying that we should be ever so grateful. Don’t kid yourselves. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. We’ve all seen the term, Return on Investment (ROI). That $400 million dollar investment will reap them a hefty profit (ROI). How much? Only they know but we can assume it is substantial or they wouldn’t be pulling out all of the stops to make it happen.

The Stonehaven proponents also tout the benefit of the connectivity to be derived from the construction of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. In an agreement between the city and the John F. Long Trust Bethany Home Road does not have to be completed until January 1, 2021.  What you don’t hear is that the city will pay $1.2 million for the north half of Bethany’s right-of-way (ROW). Where will this payment come from? From the Development Impact Fees (DIF) paid to the city.  Each home buyer pays DIF as it is incorporated by the developer into the price of each home in this subdivision. DIF is used to improve the infrastructure surrounding the new development in terms of libraries, parks, roads, etc. Not in this case, the DIF will be used to pay for right-of-way. This is precedent setting for historically the city has not had to pay for ROW for a new subdivision.

The applicants like to refer to Stonehaven as an “infill” project. Here are some conclusions from national studies done on infill:

  1. The smaller homes associated with the increased density of the project will generate lower property tax revenues, yet it increases the burden on the city’s cost for the provision of services as the new residents use them.
  2. Existent nearby residents bear all of the costs associated with this new infill development in increased traffic and congestion in local schools even though it may provide a benefit to the community as a whole as the city receives state shared revenue benefits from an increase in population.
  3. There is a negative impact for those properties in close proximity to the new, denser subdivision, but a positive impact for those properties at a greater distance.
  4. Lower income neighborhoods tend to benefit from infill development and higher income areas had property values decline.
  5. Larger projects, such as this one, magnify the negative effects more so than smaller infill projects.

What did the April 16, 2016 approved Stonehaven plan consist of? It was a balanced plan that the adjacent neighborhoods accepted.

  • R 1-5 (5,500 SF lots) on 43% of site area
  • R 1-7 (7,000 SF lots) on 36% of site area
  • R 1-8 (8,000 SF lots) on 21% of site area

Now look at the changes requested in the new proposal.

  • R 1-4 (4,000 and 4,500) SF lots on 44% of site
  • R 1-5 (5,000 SF lots) on 22.4% of site area
  • R 1-6 (6,000 SF lots) on 17.9% of site area
  • R 1-7 (7,000 SF lots) on 16% of site area

As a comparison Rovey Farm Estates built 10 years ago is a subdivision of 300 acres north of this proposed project. It is comparable in many ways and has 800 lots ranging in size from 7,000 to 17,000 SF. More recent subdivisions close by such as Boardwalk Place built in 2010 has lot sizes from 7,000 to 12,000 SF and the newest subdivision still under construction is Catania, with lot sizes that start at 5,000 SF. Yet another new subdivision, Horizons at Camelback, has lot sizes ranging from 5, 750 SF to 9, 179 SF. All of these subdivisions demonstrate lot size diversity but not one of them in west Glendale has lot sizes as small as 4,000/4,500 square feet.

The applicant rationalizes the diversity of small lots as more appealing to millennials. Yet an article in the May 12,2017 Wall Street Journal said, “Outside Las Vegas, Tri Pointe home builders has introduced a new-home design that is specifically targeted to millennial buyers, featuring indoor-outdoor patio areas and deck spaces, as well as a separate downstairs bedroom and bathroom suite that could be rented out to a housemate. Building executives said one challenge is that many are buying first homes later in life, meaning they have higher incomes and greater expectations molded by years of living in downtown luxury rentals.”

Perhaps the most impactful to adjacent neighborhoods and families is increased traffic and overcrowded schools. Before Bethany Home Road is completed in January of 2021 and while Stonehaven is being built out, daily traffic trips on Camelback will grow from its current daily count of 25,000 to over double, 54,000 trips. When Bethany is completed the daily trip count on Camelback will drop to 41,000, considerably more than the current count of 25,000. Similar situations occur on 83rd Ave. and 91st Ave. between Bethany and Camelback. This subdivision will intensify local traffic even with the eventual completion of Bethany Home Road.

Who is most impacted by this traffic increase? The Camelback Park subdivision just east of Stonehaven will bear the brunt as well as the traffic to Sunset Ridge Elementary School. 87th Avenue is one of only two primary entries for Camelback Park residents. Now it will also serve as a primary entry for Stonehaven. I am very concerned for the Camelback Park residents for even with a widened 87th Avenue their ability to get in and out of their subdivision will be aversely compromised.

These very same residents will face other difficulties as a result of Stonehaven. While Stonehaven offers the requisite 15% of park/open space, the applicants emphasize and seem to rely upon the connectivity of Stonehaven to Camelback Park’s 3 acre Pasadena Park, Sunset Ridge’s joint 10 acre school/city park and of course, the 20 year, still unfinished Heroes Park. While Stonehaven has 9.1 acres of community park, the balance of 50 acres of open space includes entryway landscaping, perimeter landscaping, street landscaping and the inevitable retention areas doubling as open space and trails.

Pulte currently has about 20 subdivisions. In one of them, Parkside at Anthem, Florence, the house price starts at $146,990. At that subdivision Pulte is offering a recreation center with indoor rock climbing and an indoor basketball court along with a splash water park, lighted tennis courts and a softball stadium. At its Bella Via subdivision, Mesa, they offer adventure playgrounds, basketball courts, a dog park and an amphitheater. Pulte is offering no such amenities in Stonehaven. Why not?

There is no doubt that the two closest elementary schools, Sunset Ridge and Desert Mirage, will be under tremendous pressure. The applicants have received approval from the Pendergast Elementary School District and the Tolleson Union High School district. Little noted is another common practice usually unrecognized by the general public.  Built into the cost of every Stonehaven home will be a dollar amount that will be donated to the school districts to offset the cost of accommodating new students. Could any school district’s, including these districts, motive for approval of this increased density be the result of this typical practice of a home builder donation per house built? It is quite possible that the Pendergast School district will have to accommodate another estimated 1,000 K-8 students. In the last Pendergast bond issue recently approved by voters there is money to expand Sunset Ridge Elementary School but there is nothing allotted for an expansion of Desert Mirage Elementary School.

Finally Stonehaven proponents emphasize the $40 million the city will derive in taxes. In that amount they even count the utilities tax that we pay on our phone, cable bills, etc. They forget to mention this amount is over the lifetime of the project…10 years or better. They make it sound as if the city will receive this amount in one fell swoop.

However, one interesting factoid I learned many years ago is that roof tops (homes) do not pay for themselves on a long term annual basis. In other words, a city loses about $200 per home annually (that is an old figure. I don’t know the current figure). What does that mean? The amount of annual tax generated per home in sales tax, property tax, etc., does not cover the cost of services provided by a city. That is why the life blood of any city isn’t in roof tops but in its commercial, retail, manufacturing, etc. development for those facilities produce taxes that help to offset the loss caused by homes.

This proposed project does not hold the promise of upgrading Glendale. It reminds me of old, 1970s zoning and planning where the smallest lots and consequently the smallest homes are placed behind or adjacent to commercial development. That’s the promise of the Stonehaven plan for the 4,000 SF and the 4,500 SF lots are behind the proposed grocery store center and the proposed restaurant row.  Can you imagine millennials or seniors wanting to live behind a grocery store or restaurant with the lights, the smells and the noise of delivery trucks an estimated 35 feet away from their property?

This kind of plan also reminds me of the old Maryvale. The only difference being is that at least John F. Long offered the public 6,000 SF sized lots…not lots of 4,000 or 4,500 SF in size. This proposed amendment and zoning does not upgrade our community. This large, 365 acre parcel of land deserves to be developed in a manner designed to showcase living in west Glendale and to which all can point with pride.  How much pride will these 4,000 and 4,500 SF lots and homes evoke 5 or 10 years after they are built?

What do power, money and privilege get? They get their way… at the expense of nearby residents who live in stable communities and who don’t want the increased traffic, school overcrowding, and even more pressure on their scant park system. They don’t want small lots with small homes destined to become a sea of rentals harvesting nothing but lower property values for those residents surrounding it.

What was so terrible about the existing, approved plan of 2016? Nothing with one exception…it isn’t dense enough for the applicants. Do you ever wonder how much an additional 204 homes will raise the profitability quotient for those involved? And is it worth it… to us?

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On May 18, 2017 as a Council Item of Special Interest the Glendale City Council approved my request for a temporary council subcommittee on business. Its purpose is to review all codes, ordinances, regulations, policies, etc., associated with businesses in Glendale. This initiative has never been accomplished since the city’s inception in 1912. Over the years there are sure to be outdated and redundant regulations that can be eliminated. It’s an opportunity for the business community to tell Glendale what it’s doing right and where there can be improvement.

The article below by Cecila Chan for Your West Valley News of May 1, 2017, sums it up very nicely:

Glendale to establish subcommittee to help businesses

May 1, 2017 Business

Cecilia Chan Independent Newsmedia

“Glendale wants to improve its climate to keep and grow the business community in the city.

City Council last week in study session agreed to move forward with the creation of a temporary subcommittee and to solicit feedback from the business community. Mayor Jerry Weiers was absent. The item is expected to come before Council at its next voting meeting.

” ‘This sends a positive message to all business large and small in Glendale that we are interested in them and what they do,’ said Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who came up with the idea. ‘It sends a positive message to businesses thinking about moving here that we are serious about improving the business climate. I’m not saying it’s bad but it can be made better.’

“The one-year subcommittee will be made up of three council members and representatives from the business community who will review the city’s codes and make recommendations to the Council.

“Ms. Clark said during her time on the Council off and on since 1992, there has never been a review of the city’s policies, regulations or laws pertaining to businesses in Glendale.

“The subcommittee will remove outdated, ineffective and redundant business regulations on the city’s books, she added.

“The committee will look at everything the city does relating to business and see where it can become more business-friendly and enhance its reputation as the premier business community in the Valley, Ms. Clark said.

“Development Services Director Sam McAllen said the subcommittee would take an average of two to three hours a week of staff time. For the duration of the committee, it is estimated to take 1,040 hours to 1,560 hours of staff time, he added.

“Councilman Ray Malnar suggested increasing the seven- member committee to include a contractor or builder because that profession, which creates job opportunities in Glendale, is affected by city fees and policies.

“Councilman Jamie Aldama suggested adding two representatives, one from the minority business community and one from a woman-owned business.

“Councilman Bart Turner said the idea of a subcommittee is a worthy endeavor, however, it is a step too soon.

“He cited the large use of staff hours, a city resource.

“Instead, he suggested the city find out what the issues and/or frustrations are for businesses in Glendale by getting it from the members of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, soliciting input at city hall’s second-floor service counter and establishing a hotline for merchants.

“Try that for a year and then see if the committee is still needed, Councilman Turner said.

“Councilman Aldama asked what the staff hours equated to in money.

“Mr. Allen said staff only went as far as to identify which departments would be involved in the committee. Departments involved include Building Safety, Fire Marshal, Planning, Economic Development and City Attorney.

Councilman Aldama noted despite the cost of creating the committee, its recommendations would generate more revenue for Glendale.

Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff suggested the council move forward on both proposals.

” ‘I have no problem doing both at the same time,’ she said.

“The council also agreed to expand the subcommittee to 11 to 13 members, taking in Councilmen Aldama’s and Malnar’s suggestions.

Staff estimated the new subcommittee could be up and running within three to four months upon approval.”

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I belong to an online site called nextdoor.com . This site connects neighbors to neighbors within their neighborhood as well as connecting nearby neighborhoods to one another. You can post general messages, want ads, items for sale, event notices, etc. It’s a great site and I urge you to check it out.

The other day this question was posted, “Does anyone know any updates on casino? It seems like it is in a standstill with moving forward with construction.”  It was posted to 41 neighborhoods in my general area on April 26, 2017. It was as if a bomb had gone off. It generated more replies than any other issue I have seen lately. There was not only a great deal of misinformation posted but there were replies like, “Which casino sorry Glendale?”

It’s time to offer an update on the TO casino. As of today, May 6, 2017 the last Arizona District Court minute entry was posted on February 10, 2017, 3 months ago, “MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge David G Campbell: Telephone Conference held on 2/8/2017. Plaintiff State of Arizona request a 45 day extension of the response to 263 MOTION for Attorney Fees . Discussion held. Request granted. Response due 3/31/2017 .”

As you can see from this minute entry there are procedures and pre-trial motions that must be adjudicated (settled) before a bench trial before Judge Campbell may begin. It could be months before the case is argued before the judge. In other words, it’s at a standstill.

This case revolves around the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) attempt to get a Class III license from the State of Arizona. Until this case is settled there will be nothing but bingo (and no liquor) at the Desert Diamond Casino located on a county island in the midst of Glendale, just north of the Westgate area. The temporary casino located in the Tohono O’odham’s warehouse facility will continue as the only operation on the site. Those who have visited this casino are quick to point out that it’s not on a par with Talking Stick Casino and Resort. Factually, it will never be a Class A facility unless the TO get their Class III license. Will that occur? Only Judge Campbell will have the answer when he rules on the current case before him.

Here is the comment from a local resident who used to work at this casino, “They also want to build another one up here somewhere (on the Glendale site). I don’t remember exactly but…on the east side (of the site). I think… they are fighting for both now. When it opened they told us one year to the day we would be walking into the new one. Well that passed Dec 20th.”

This resident’s comment sparked a new round of replies, “For me it was just a crappy sneaky deal all around. As I know the facts, it was a Federal land swap. The feds didn’t ask or didn’t want to ask or didn’t care to ask what their plan was for the property and didn’t put casino restrictions on it, right across the street from the high school, and didn’t inform the local government. Everybody dropped the ball letting the tribe do whatever. I don’t know what the Grand plan and or timeframe, but if they turned the entire property into a family friendly resort with pool, water park, rides, par 3 golf, hotel, etc……. I don’t have an issue with the casino.”

Or this comment, “I’m wondering if the City of Glendale was notified. Isn’t that property within the city limits? If so??? I also wonder what land did the Fed’s swap? The issue for me is if all the tribes signed an agreement not to develop a casino in an urban area and this tribe somehow managed to have the land swapped and designated as tribal land they should not be granted a full gambling license. Just my opinion.”

I must offer a little history in answer to these comments. In 2001 the state began negotiations with all Arizona tribes to craft a gaming compact. At the same time (2001-02) the Tohono O’odham were already land shopping in urban areas of Maricopa County. They formed a shell company, Reiner, which purchased the land in Glendale. This purchase was kept secretly while the TO participated in the negotiations and paid for publicity pamphlets asking voters to approve the Gaming Act of 2002. It wasn’t until the TO publicly announced their intention in 2009 (7 years later…7 years a secret closely guarded) to build a casino on a county island within Glendale that the public or Glendale knew of their plans.

It was not a federal land swap per se. The Gila River Act of 1985 allowed the TO to purchase land in Maricopa County because the federal government had flooded their land when it built a new dam. It made the TO’s land unsustainable for agriculture. No one, except the TO, believe that it was legal to purchase land for a casino in an urban area rather than adhering to the intent of this law which was to acquire useable agricultural land to replace lands that were lost to flooding.

Glendale joined in lawsuits with virtually every Tribe in the state to fight the TO casino…until August of 2014. The city sold its soul for 30 pieces of silver. It entered into an agreement with the TO agreeing to withdraw all official opposition to the project, and would adopt a new resolution expressing support for the Tohono O’odhams’ acquisition of the property and for the casino. 

The Tohono O’odhams, in exchange, would pay for any infrastructure improvements needed in the area to accommodate the additional traffic the casino would generate. It would also give Glendale a one-time payment of $500,000, and annual payments of $1.4 million, which would increase by two percent a year.

As a Glendale city councilmember it is my obligation and duty to uphold Glendale policy. If the TO were to come to the city I have a duly sworn obligation to give them a full and fair hearing without bias. This, I would endeavor to do. On a personal level that doesn’t mean I agree with or even like this agreement.  For I do not.

Another resident comment expressed, “They won’t start building until they get a class 3 license. It is supposed to go back to court in May. The state is still fighting the casino. The state needs to give it up and let them build. They are wasting taxpayers money by fighting it.” Many feel this way but they are willing to overlook the deception and extreme breach of ethics by the TO in dealing with the state and its sister Tribes during the gambling compact negotiations and during the effort to gain voter approval for the compact in 2002. These stakeholders believe the TO lied to them by having secretly already purchased land for a casino in an urban area and that is a very difficult bridge to repair. It’s an action that is precedent setting and puts every Valley city in peril for who is to say which city will become the next host to a tribal casino?

One resident offered this link to a study on the economic impact of tribal casinos. It’s a good read:

http://www.uwyo.edu/shogren/gaming%20and%20casino%20economics.htm . Finally, I end with this resident’s comment on casinos, “Casinos are, in my opinion, a tax on people bad at math. You know who you will never see in a casino? Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerburg… or any of the other richest people in the USA. Because they understand math better than most of us.” Maybe it would help if we all got better at math.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Friday, April 28, 2017 Glendale city council had another all day budget workshop to continue its review of departmental budgets. Here’s how these department budget totals lined up in terms of total increases or decreases over the Fiscal Years of 2016-17 and 2017-18;

  • Budget, Finance and Non-Departmental     64.76% decrease                                           (this is an anomaly explained by the removal of two line items, Arena Events and the AZSTA stadium tax refund). In actuality this department will see a 6.24% increase in this year’s proposed budget.
  • Public Facilities and Events                         10.10% increase
  • Economic Development                              20.59% increase
  • Public Affairs                                               7.27% increase
  • Office of the Mayor                                      8.9%  increase
  • City Council Office                                     17.06% increase
  • Innovation and Technology                        13.60% increase
  • City Manager’s Office                                  2.15% decrease
  • City Clerk                                                 35.75% increase 
  • Water Services (Enterprise Fund)                 5.21% increase
  • Public Works (Enterprise Fund)                    3.17% increase

Budget, Finance, Non-Departmental. The issue within this department’s budget continues to remain the acquisition of and implementation of a city-wide ERP system called Munis. For years the city has utilized a system called PeopleSoft. From what I have heard some PeopleSoft modules were never fully implemented nor was staff adequately trained on the use of some of its modules. In addition, a year and a half ago the city paid $1.2 million to upgrade the Human Resources component of PeopleSoft. Oracle, the parent company of PeopleSoft has announced that it will continue to support the PeopleSoft system until 2027.

Staff contends that PeopleSoft requires a great deal of manual input and output with modules that cannot be tailored to the city’s needs in the 21st century. It, with the assistance of a consultant, has identified a system called Munis, tailored to the needs of local governmental needs. The cost of acquisition and implementation is $6 million over 3 fiscal years. While I believe they have made a case for acquisition of the Finance modules, I am not convinced that the abandonment of the HR PeopleSoft system, recently upgraded, is critical and warranted right now. Further discussion of this item will occur at council’s next budget meeting of Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Public Facilities and Events.  A great deal of council conversation continues to center on the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and its use of the city’s bed tax revenues. My question continues to be why does it cost the city $407,602 to administer this tax? Up until now the CVB has concentrated its advertising dollars (funded by the bed tax) toward a select group of downtown businesses. Council indicated quite clearly that advertising of downtown businesses must be more inclusionary and that advertising dollars should be directed to all businesses in Glendale rather than just the downtown core.

Economic Development. The major conversation was the acquisition of a Downtown Manager for $125,000 annually. A Request for Proposals was issued and the contract will be awarded to the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.  Major deliverables in this contract include the establishment of a downtown merchants’ association and a full and complete current inventory of all downtown properties. While these are major tasks if they are not or cannot be accomplished during the contract’s first year the contract could be terminated.

Public Affairs.  The realignment of departments under the new City Manager Kevin Phelps created this new department. Its focus is primarily public relations for the city. Within this department is the city’s cable TV division. If you are a Cox subscriber you have the opportunity to visit Channel 11 to see some award winning programming.

Office of the Mayor and City Council Office. The Mayor and City Council are the most visible representatives of our city. We serve in so many ways: representation of the city on national, regional and local levels; we are your voice and our prime directive is to represent your interests and concerns; and we make policy decisions for the entire city. During the recession these two divisions, just as all other departments, reduced the number of support staff making us lean but not so mean. Since my last service as a councilmember in 2012 and my return in 2016 I am surprised that elected officials’ duties and responsibilities have increased significantly. When I returned to council I staffed myself for the first four months. I was able to experience, up close and personally, how much work a council assistant must perform. Yet a council assistant staffs two councilmembers. It is an impossible situation. The move toward a council assistant for each councilmember is long overdue.

Innovation and technology. This is an area that merits further scrutiny. Many departments now have their own IT support or pay for it annually as part of a licensing contract for specialized software. Training on new software is often also included in the purchase of specialized software. Has our IT department become no more than glorified support for the city’s vast numbers of personal computers at work stations? I don’t know but it is an area that deserves in-depth discussion by council.

City Manager’s Office. The city manager sets an example for the entire city and a reduction in his budget is symbolic for the organization. He is demonstrating that more can be done with less in some circumstances. Mr. Phelps has demonstrated his abilities to tackle tough issues and to create new initiatives that will benefit the city over the long-term.

City Clerk. While election season takes a brief hiatus (at the end of this year, 2017, candidates for the Ocotillo, Barrel and Cholla city council seats will be able to take out nominating petitions) the City Clerk’s election budget shrunk to $2,000. Yet in this information age, the number of documents, contracts, correspondence, etc., has exploded. Most of these materials must be retained per state or city policy.  The increase in this department budget is to meet this need.

Water Services and Public Works. These areas are Enterprise Funds meaning they rely upon residents’ use of and monthly payment for these services. Their revenues are your monthly payments for water, sewer, sanitation and landfill. These departments are the worlds of engineers. They understand numbers. As a result, their budgets are very clean and comprehensive. It’s always a pleasure to review these departmental budgets because they are so clear. There are two major initiatives in these areas. During the recession, water services delayed many major repair and maintenance projects. There is now the opportunity to address these issues and in addition, an opportunity to plan for future needs by beginning to build redundancy into the system of water delivery. Public works’ major initiative now and for the next 5 years is the pavement management program. Over the next 5 years the entire system of streets in the city will receive some form of remediation, long over-due. In addition, a suggestion I made will also be implemented by changing the city’s street lighting to LED will save the city approximately half a million dollars a year.

The next budget workshop is Tuesday, May 2, 2017 and begins at 1:30 PM. It had originally been scheduled for 9 AM but a change to the afternoon became necessary. If you would like to watch this workshop you can view it on Cox TV cable channel 11 or online at www.glendaleaz.com, at cable channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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