The Tuesday, November 19, 2013 Glendale city council workshop is jam packed and includes a Development Impact Fee update, the Fire Department Budget deficit, special project recommendations and the Ballpark Boulevard extension.

Since the Arizona Legislature changed the way all cities in the state can impose, collect and spend Development Impact Fees Glendale, like many other cities, has developed a new Impact Fee structure. Impact Fees are charged to new developments and the developers typically add these fees into the price of a home, apartment, office, commercial or industrial building. Tischler Bise is the consultant hired to prepare the study on Impact Fees. I would like to know the cost of the study for I assure you, as thorough as it is, it was not cheap.

The consultants divide Glendale into three zones. The East Zone runs the entire length of Glendale, north to south and from 43rd Avenue to 75th Avenue. It is a very large zone and is approximately 42 square miles.  The Loop 101 zone is the smallest running from Northern Avenue to Camelback Road, 75th Avenue to 115 Avenue. It is a very small zone and is approximately 13 square miles. The West Zone is all land within Glendale’s annexation boundaries and is approximately 36 square miles. Although very thorough the consultants provide no rationale for the establishment of the Zones that are essential to the study.

There is concern with the disparity of size of the zones for they comprise a “nexus.” By that is meant that development impact fees are collected and spent within each zone. With the Loop 101 Zone being the smallest there will be less opportunity to collect/spend fees to provide the same quantity and quality of infrastructure as enjoyed by the East Zone. As an equitable issue all land south of Northern Avenue from 43rd Avenue to 115th Avenue should form the Loop 101 Zone. That would remove approx. 12 square miles from the East Zone making it approx. 30 square miles and increasing the Loop 101 Zone to 25 square miles. The West Zone would remain static at 36 square miles.

The balance of the study is impressive. Their facts and figures are well grounded and formulas are used to determine what the new fee structure for state mandated infrastructure should be. Although the Development Impact Fee structure is no longer what Glendale and every other city used previously there is no choice but to work within the new state-mandated regulations. We will not see the kind of Impact Fees that helped to make Glendale what it is today but it is important that we make the best use of them possible. With the exception of the determination of the zone configuration this is exactly what this study does.

The second item of discussion is the fire department’s deficit. There is but one question to ask. Is the fire department being managed effectively by current Fire Chief Burdick? In juxtaposition the Police Department led by Chief Deborah Black is not facing this kind of deficit. What kind of deficit? How about $1,674,887 minus one-time savings netting a deficit of $1,328,070? In addition the on-going, annual deficit of over $800,000  goes to pay for overtime due to the department’s philosophy of “constant staffing.” It’s time for a study to demonstrate which brings more value to citizens – constant staffing which entails an enormous amount of overtime at time and a half pay or the hiring of more personnel eliminating the need for the constant staffing regimen and its requisite overtime pay.

That item will be followed by a presentation and discussion of recommendations that resulted from the half million dollar external audit.  The City Auditor’s and City Attorney’s roles will be part of that discussion as well as the Trust Fund Citizen Boards and departmental internal premiums for risk management.

The last item of discussion will be what to do about Ballpark Boulevard. The city in an agreement with the two baseball teams agreed to extend Ballpark Boulevard north to 99th Avenue and Maryland Avenue. The current, approved concept will cost the city $18 million to acquire land for right-of-way and construction. Mayor Weiers asked that two alternatives be considered that would come in between $6 and $8 million. Both of these alternatives would run adjacent to the city’s airport on either its west or east side. The only problem with the alternatives is that they will not replace the contractually mandated concept of connecting to 99th and Maryland. That will still have to be done. So the question is…does the city construct a stop gap measure costing $6 to $8 million now knowing that down the road it still must spend $18 million per its contract with the City of Phoenix and both baseball teams? The city has no money right now and without any demonstrated urgency it is something that can wait. Neither Phoenix nor the teams are demanding immediate action.

This is not going to be one of the council’s typical one hour or less meetings. The issues are complex and I would hope that council “has done its homework” and is prepared to ask meaningful and relevant questions on all of these complex issues…but then again, it could be wishful thinking.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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