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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.

I have received a lot of calls, emails and text messages from citizens wanting an explanation of Proposition 437. They say the city has not provided any information on this issue. If you go to www.glendaleaz.com on the landing page there is a link to get you to the information about Proposition 437 and the 4 ballot questions asking for voter approval for bond authorization. 

You may have wondered why the city is not asking voters to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 437 and the 4 bond questions. By state statute a city may not advocate for or against issues presented to the voters when they are city initiated. The city has held at least a dozen public informational meetings on these issues where information about them was presented by staff being careful not to advocate for the issues presented.

With Proposition 437 the city is asking for voter approval to grant a franchise agreement between the city and EPCOR Water Arizona, Inc. Approval would allow EPCOR to construct, maintain and operate water and wastewater utilities within the city including any future annexations, west of 115th Avenue. EPCOR has been providing water and wastewater services to many entities both commercial and residential west of 115th Avenue for many years. All of their current  service provision has been on county land not incorporated Glendale land. Since they are already operating in that area and already have the infrastructure in place to provide services it makes sense to grant them the right to service properties in Glendale’s Municipal Planning Area (MPA) as those properties are annexed into Glendale.

The city council approved a policy for future annexations in far West Glendale that mandates the area be used for industrial, commercial and retail development, most particularly around the Loop 303 area. With EPCOR already providing water and sewer services in that area it does not require the city to invest millions of dollars in putting in the needed infrastructure there.  EPCOR already has customers and operates in that area as well as in some West Valley cities.

Voter approval of this franchise agreement in no way affects current city water and wastewater customers now getting those services from the city. There is no relationship between the two services. Those people who get water and wastewater services from the city will continue to get those services. Approval of this franchise agreement eliminates the need to expand city infrastructure beyond 115th Avenue. If the voters do not approve this franchise agreement then Glendale may have to build infrastructure in far west Glendale. In this scenario every current customer would bear the associated costs. 

As a franchisee of the city EPCOR will be required to pay the city three percent (3%) of its annual gross (not net) receipts. The estimated annual payment to the city is $825,612.

It’s a win-win for the city and for EPCOR. I would recommend a ‘yes’ vote.

Please note my previous blog presented information not just on this issue but on the 4 bond questions that are on the ballot.

  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.

As voters receive Early Ballots and we are 3 weeks away from voting in person, it’s a good time to review the items related to Glendale on the ballot..

The first is Proposition 437. The city is asking voters to approve granting a franchise agreement to EPCOR Water Arizona, Inc. Approval would allow EPCOR to construct, maintain and operate water and wastewater utilities within the city including any future annexations, west of 115th Avenue.

The city council approved a policy for future annexations in far West Glendale that mandates the area be used for industrial, commercial and retail development, most particularly around the Loop 303 area. With EPCOR providing water and sewer services it does not require the city to invest millions of dollars in putting in the needed infrastructure in that area.  EPCOR already has customers and operates in that area as well as in some West Valley cities.

Granting voter approval for this franchise agreement in no way affects current city water and wastewater customers now getting those services from the city. There is no relationship between the two services.  As a franchisee of the city EPCOR will be required to pay the city three percent (3%) of its annual gross (not net) receipts. The estimated annual payment to the city is $825,612. It’s a win-win for the city and for EPCOR. I would recommend a ‘yes’ vote.

There are also 4 Bond Questions on the Nov. 3rd ballot. The city issues bonds to pay for Capital Improvement Projects. These bonds are paid off over time, usually 25 or 30 years. The city has committed that it will issue no more bonds than that which can be paid off while keeping your property tax rate at its current rate. In other words, passage of these bond questions will not raise your property tax bill.

Question 1 is for Parks and Recreation in the amount of $87,200,000. These bonds would not be issued all at once but rather as other bonds are paid off that allows the city to issue new bonds without raising your property tax. Here are the specific projects for which the bonds will be used:

  • Existing citywide park infrastructure improvements $31,819,400.00
  • Heroes Regional Park Lake                                      4,435,000.00
  • O’Neil Park Splash Pad                                            1,350,000.00
  • Park play structures city wide                                  3,195,000.00
  • Heroes Regional Park Build Out                             46,400,000.00

Question 2 is for Streets in the amount of $81,500,00. and lists specific streets that will be reconstructed. It costs between $3M and $4M to reconstruct one mile of arterial street. The specific streets are:

  • 67th Ave (Greenway to Bell Rd)                      $3,528,000.00
  • 67th Ave (Deer Valley Rd to Pinnacle Peak Rd) $3,704,400.00
  • 59th Ave (Glendale to Northern Ave)               $3,704,400.00
  • Cactus Rd (59th to 67th Ave)                           $3,704,400.00
  • 51st Ave (Peoria Ave to Cactus Rd)                 $3,528,000.00
  • 51st Ave ( Olive Ave to Peoria Ave)                 $3,616,200.00
  • 75th Ave (Glendale Ave to Northern Ave)         $3,528,000.00
  • 83rd Ave (Glendale Ave to Northern Ave)         $4,254,000.00
  • Arterial Street Reconstruction identified in the Capital Improvement Program (Years 6 through 10)   $51,932,600.00        

Question 3 is for the Landfill in the amount of $9,900,000.00 and any bonds issued will not be paid back from the General Fund. These bonds will be paid back by the consumers/rate payers that use city sanitation services.  Current bond repayments for previously issued bonds are already part of your monthly sanitation bill. These funds will be used for expansion of the city’s landfill as it opens the north cell and closes the south cell.   

Question 4 is for Flood Control in the amount of $9,300.000 and will be used for 3 specific projects:

  • Storm drains, Camelback Rd ( 51st Ave to 58th Ave)                       $2,776,400.00
  • Storm drains, 83rd Ave (Bethany Home to Camelback)                    $3,129,500.00
  • Drainage improvements, Glenn Dr (52nd Ave to 59th Ave)                $3,394,100.00

If all or any of these 4 Bond Questions do not pass, there will be no bond money to pay for them. The city options are to not build the project or scale it back. It should also be noted that when voters approve these bond questions, the bonds issued can only be used for the specific projects on the ballot that were voter approved.

I ask that you carefully consider all 4 questions. If you think they are worthy of investment then you will vote to approve them as I am doing.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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 asked city staff to research a series of questions regarding expenditures for Glen Lakes over the years. Much of it was historical data which they could not provide. However, I am sharing the information I did receive.

I asked what the 1979 purchase price was for Glen Lakes. The amount the city paid in 1979 was $1,418,113. I would only remark that the 1979 price was remarkable considering that it was purchased over 40 years ago. It would be considered a remarkable amount of money today as well.

I asked if there were any expenditures required after the land was purchased prior to opening the course to the public. Staff could not find any information.

I assumed the course operations and maintenance would have been a line item in the city’s budget over the years but that was not the case. Costs of operation and maintenance for all city parks and facilities were lumped together so there is no method to determine what would have been expended on the course until 2019. In 2019 the city implemented a new financial software system that now enables the tracking of individual facility expenditures across all departments.

It is fair to assume the city did spend money on operations and maintenance of the course between its purchase date and 2019 when the city could actually begin tracking expenditures. We just don’t know how much was spent each year so I find it puzzling when supporters opposed to the sale of Glen Lakes claim the city deliberately underfunded the operations and maintenance of the course in recent years when they have no factual information to prove it. As can be seen below with regard to attendance figures available attributing the decline in attendance to lack of maintenance seems unrealistic when nationwide golf course attendance declined.

We do know the city paid Golf Maintenance Solutions $120,500 in 2018. We do know that city expended $394,537 in 2019; another $166,691 in 2020; and another $65,000 in 2020. I asked what the city has spent on course maintenance since its closure. That figure is $261,634.

Factually, it can be documented that between the purchase price and the expenditures identified since 2018, the city has spent approximately $3,164,841.00 plus whatever expenditures there were between 1979 and 2018. Over 40 years, it is fair to say the expenditures were considerable and could be considered in the millions of dollars but there is no means of verification.

I asked what the attendance at the course had been since 2005. I have heard Glen Lakes advocates say repeatedly that in 2005 the course was very popular. I asked staff if they had any data on attendance and they provided:

  • 2005 47,469
  • 2006 46,947
  • 2007 42,999
  • 2008 39,455
  • 2009 39,999
  • 2010 33,577
  • 2011 25,104
  • 2012 21,377
  • 2013 22,788
  • 2014 19,196
  • 2015 18,420
  • 2016 15,483
  • 2017 unknown
  • 2018 12,240

I discovered many 9 hole municipal golf courses throughout the country whose annual attendance is twice that of Glen Lakes at its peak in 2005.  By 2016 users of Glen Lakes had declined by 67% from the 2005 figure.

An article entitled Course Correction published in September of 2019 sums up the current issues associated with municipal golf courses, “But over the past 15 years, golfing participation has fallen by 20 percent, from 30 million in 2005 to 24 million today. Now, according to the National Golf Foundation, there are more municipal courses than ever—some 2,800 across the country—but they are serving far fewer golfers than they once did. As a result, course costs are cutting into city budgets. One-third of public golf courses don’t make enough to cover annual operations. That number goes up when taking into account other expenses, such as debt and employee retirement benefits.”(https://www.governing.com/topics/finance/gov-golf-courses.html).

There is another issue that has surfaced recently with regard to Glen Lakes and that is, the issue of the park space to be reserved for public use. Currently, other than the view provided to adjacent neighbors, to actually be on the golf course one would have to pay a fee to use it so consequently the only benefit to neighbors is the view.

It should be noted that there is quite a bit of established park space in this area. Close by are Butler Park and Manistee Ranch Park. A little further is one of Glendale’s premier parks, that of Sahuaro Ranch Park.

I attended the public meetings for neighborhood residents. At one of those meetings conceptual plans were offered for proposed park space and the amount of improved park land is to be + or – 10 acres. The attendees were the ones who chose the final conceptual plan and they made it quite clear that they did not want a park with active amenities such as basketball courts that would attract users from outside their neighborhoods. Now to hear complaints about the configuration of the park space is quite baffling.

The city council will be voting on this issue sometime in October. I have no idea how the vote will go. There are several issues to consider. Does the city need two 9 hole municipal golf courses? Is it cost effective to maintain a view for the adjacent neighbors? Should this course be preserved no matter the current and future costs to be borne by all of the city’s taxpayers? Would the funding to operate and maintain 10 acres of useable, neighborhood, public park space be a better investment for the city?

I understand the Glen Lakes advocates’ position. Their request is to restore the course. I represent all citizens of Glendale. Is it fair, just and equitable to ask every taxpayer in Glendale to subsidize millions of future dollars to completely renovate, operate and maintain this course? Even if the course were renovated, it is anticipated the revenues earned by players’ fees would not cover the annual costs of operation and maintenance. The reality is that this course will be a financial deficit to the city in perpetuity.

It is always jarring and upsetting to residents when they are confronted with the fact that a once vacant parcel of land nearby will be developed. Their first comment is on the loss of their unimpeded view enjoyed for many years.

As Planning Chairperson Gary Hirsch said at a recent meeting, if this were a parcel owned by a private entity wishing to develop, it would be recognized and acknowledged that the private entity has the right to so as it wished with its investment. He drew a line in the sand when it came to a public entity, namely local government, and its desire to develop or to repurpose land that it owns. I’m not sure I agree with his premise. Taxpayers constantly question whether its local government is making sound financial decisions and operating in the most cost effective manner possible. Doesn’t local government have the obligation to stop throwing good money after bad?

I understand the anguish of nearby neighbors and the loss of their view of 40 acres of green space but at what cost do the rest of the taxpayers preserve the neighbors’ view?

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

No project as large in scope as this one is simple or easy to create. This project is wide-ranging and complex reflected by the fact that it has taken over a year to put all of the pieces in place. There are 5 different agreements:

  • Development Agreement with ECL Glendale, LLC. (approved by city council on Sept. 8)
  • Government Property Improvement Leases with ECL Glendale, LLC. (approved by city council on Sept. 8)
  • Purchase and Sale Agreement with ERD Glendale, LLC. to purchase approximately .2942 acres of city-owned land (scheduled to come before city council on Sept. 22)
  • Option Agreement to purchase real estate with ERD Glendale, LLC to purchase approximately 4.154 acres of city-owned land (scheduled to come before city council on Sept. 22)
  • Parking Agreement(s) (scheduled to come before city council on Sept. 22)

The Development Agreement acknowledges that this project qualified as a business expansion economic development project. The term of this agreement is 25 years. The agreement spells out the terms of a 25 year “partial” Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET). Under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S. 42-6208) a GPLET may be applied only to amusements and their related retail and restaurant concessions. It allows for a 25 year partial exemption of lease excise tax for recreation and entertainment uses. Once the project has completed all construction (October, 2022) the company sells the project to the city for a token amount. The city becomes the lessor (owner and landlord) exempting ECL from paying property tax.  ECL becomes the prime lessee (renter) paying the city a token annual rental payment and pays annual lease excise tax instead of property tax. After 25 years the GPLET terminates and cannot be renewed. At that time the project reverts back to ECL, becomes private property and pays property tax rather than a lease tax.

The Government Property Improvement Lease further refines the terms of the 25 year partial GPLET. The terms remain as represented above but they are spelled out in excruciating legal detail. It’s a 50 page document (yes, I read it all) that only an attorney would love. It even covers what happens if there is “an act of God” that destroys the project.  It’s a very detailed, boring, yet important document.

The company is obligated to operate and maintain the project for at least 25 years continuously. The company agrees to completion of construction of the entire project on or before October 31, 2022. The city recognizes the right of the company to develop, construct and use the property under its current Planned Area Development (PAD) zoning. The city will provide expedited plan review. The city will provide a Fee Waiver in the amount of $1M in permit, plan review and inspection fees but this waiver does not include Development Impact Fees (DIF) which is estimated to be a one time payment of $4.4M.

Purchase Sale Agreement for 0.29 acres allows ECL to purchase for $10 a square foot, totaling $126,000. This small sliver of city-owned land is situated on the southwest corner of Montebello Avenue and 95th Avenue. It enhances access to the project site.

Option for Purchase Sale Agreement for 4.15 acres allows ECL to purchase for $10 a square foot, totaling $1.8 M. This land would be used for water retention, employee parking and maintenance operations for the project.

Parking Agreement(s) provide for the project’s overflow parking needs at the city-owned Black lot on all days but football game days and mega events at the stadium (attendance must be 40,000 minimum). ECL will maintain the black lot and pay for all associated utilities. This agreement will also be approved by the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Cardinals. Additional agreements between the Bidwill family and ECL may provide alternate parking should the city decide to develop the Black Parking lot. Obviously, with this project and others within Westgate and Zanjero, at some point the Black Lot parking land becomes so valuable for development that its use as a parking lot no longer makes financial sense.

The Return on Our Investment (ROI) is substantial. Keep in mind the city always uses conservative figures and I think it is fair to assume the numbers provided could be higher. Over 25 years the county earns $60.4M or $2.4M a year; the schools earn $90.6M or $3.6M a year; and the state receives $309.3M or $12.3M a year. What does the city earn? Over 25 years $240.5M or $9.6M a year. During construction of the project the city earns construction sales tax of $5.9M; $1.8M for the sale of remnant land parcels; and DIF fees of $4.4M. I personally think the annual revenues will be higher, especially during and after the Super Bowl in 2023. This resort project is sure to be heavily promoted during the Super Bowl generating a ton of viewer interest and a spike in tourist visits to Glendale.

All of these revenues are generated because the city, in order to attract this project, was willing to forego $1M in fee waivers, agree to accept excise lease tax rather than property tax and already had an abundance of available overflow parking constructed. In return for which, the city will generate almost $10M a year in new revenue. The city did not have to pay a dime to entice the project. The city does not write a check as an incentive to the developer for anything. I think that it is a win-win for Glendale and ECL. That’s why it won my immediate and enthusiastic support from the time I first learned of the project.

There are cities across this country that will never have this kind of opportunity but Glendale has spent the past several years positioning itself to attract just such a project.  As I said in my last blog there are intangible benefits as well. This experiential retail, entertainment concept is a brand new concept and will be the very first anywhere in the world. It will claim the attention of both the retail and entertainment industries and provides a blueprint for marrying the two concepts together. Glendale was on the map as a host city for the Super Bowl and the Final Four but this project moves Glendale to a new level of prominence.

I thank ECL for choosing Glendale as its partner and for hanging in there for over a year to execute tedious, legal, governmental documents that can be frustrating at times. It’s a challenge for all concerned to bring a project such as this to reality. Kudos to Glendale and ECL for making it happen. I am very proud to welcome them as the newest member of our Glendale family and the Yucca district.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

This is a blog I have been dying to write for the past year. I simply couldn’t wait to announce this project until tomorrow. So, I will write for a couple of hours and post it in the wee hours of tonight. In this first blog I will give you the big picture regarding the project and in my next blog I will go into detail for those of you who may be nerdy like me.

A year ago our City Manager shared with me that there was a possibility that a Crystal Lagoon project could be coming to Glendale and specifically to my district, the Yucca district at the southwest corner of Cardinals Way and 95th Avenue. I had no idea what the concept was so the first order of business for me was to do my research. What I learned made me anxiously hopeful that Glendale could land such a project. I was excited about the prospect and periodically asked our City Manager Kevin Phelps about the success of the negotiations always ending with, “Can I announce it yet?” For months the response was always, “Not yet.”

The concept was born with Fernando Fischmann, a trained biochemist and a real estate developer. His first project was in San Alfonso del Mar, Chile. The obstacles in the creation of a large lagoon as an amenity to his real estate development project were immense and frankly, solutions were non-existent.  At the time there was no cost effective technology available that could be utilized to maintain a large body of water.

He did what any other genius entrepreneur would do. He did the research himself by setting up his own laboratory to invent the technology needed for his project. He successfully patented his newly created technology allowing him to build major residential/lagoon projects worldwide. Today there are at least a 100 Crystal Lagoons throughout the world — in every South American country; southern European countries like Spain and Greece; the Middle East from Egypt to Jordan; Canada and dozens of lagoons in the United States. The list of projects is extensive.

But it was time to apply the concept to not just residential projects but to a commercial/retail/office/hotel concept.

One of the first such projects will be in Glendale. The developer is ECL Glendale, LLC.  The project site is 48+ acres and will host 9 complimentary components:

  • an 11 acre lagoon style water park planned to include scuba diving, windsurfing and water jet packs
  • 175,000 square feet of retail space
  • 130,000 square feet of office space
  • 3 hotels offering a total of 630 hotel rooms
  • amusement rides
  • family entertainment center
  • fly and 4D theaters
  • restaurants and bars
  • a performing arts and film venue space

There will also be the first ever “aero bar,” a 135 foot elevated bar in the middle of the lagoon with a 360-degree view. It also will include the world’s largest helium balloon. The balloon will be on a tether with a gondola that raises riders 400 feet in the air offering a bird’s eye view of the entire Valley. Some of the newest elements have yet to be announced and you will learn of them in the coming months.

ECL Glendale, LLC. plans to begin construction this year, probably late Fall with a target completion date of October of 2022. That gives them a few months of operation to work all the bugs out before the Super Bowl comes back to Glendale in 2023. It’s an ambitious schedule but as all elements will be constructed simultaneously, it is doable.

So, how much will this plethora of entertainment cost the visitor? I understand that an All Day Pass will be $20 per person. That seems to be a competitive price compared to other water venues in the Valley.

Why am I so excited about the project? It’s a one-of-a-kind attraction for not just the State of Arizona but for the entire Southwestern United States. But even more importantly, it forever ensures that Glendale is the premier sports and entertainment destination in all of Arizona. Now, all we need is basketball and soccer to capture the entire sports market. Maybe if the Coyotes Hockey team actually leaves Glendale as they have threatened to do for several years we could repurpose the arena for basketball? Or perhaps the property owners of the “Vision 4” properties on the west side of the Loop 101 might try to lure additional sports venues such as basketball and soccer to their site? Who knows?

This soon-to-be resort site compliments and adds to all of the existing and soon-to-be constructed development in the Westgate and Zanjero areas. It causes Glendale to become a year round tourist destination, similar to Disneyland or Disneyworld. It also increases Glendale’s viability as a host city for mega events such as the Final Four. Lastly, it will generate slightly less than $10 million a year in new revenue for the city and will create an estimated 1,800 jobs.

This was a difficult and complex project to bring to reality. It has a lot of moving parts and I will get into those moving parts in my next blog.

I don’t believe anyone else, other than our City Manager, Kevin Phelps, could have successfully concluded this project. He is a master at development and exactly what Glendale needs to become eminently successful in a highly competitive market as cities out bid and jostle one another to land mega projects. Mr. Phelps has also put together an outstanding team of senior management responsible for the success of this project. It includes Brian Friedman, Director of Economic Development; Lisa Collins, Planning Administrator; Vicki Rios and Jack Friedline, Assistant City Managers; and Craig Johnson, Director of Utilities. If I omitted anyone please accept my apology. Michael Bidwill, representing the Bidwill family, also contributed to the project’s success by working with ECL Glendale, LLC. to craft a parking agreement.

I don’t think I can express the momentous effect this project will have not just for Glendale and the Metro Valley but for the entire state. This project is in the forefront of a new type of retail. As was expressed today, people no longer just want to buy things. We are entering a new age where people want experiences…memories that are invaluable. That is the promise of this new concept for Crystal Lagoon and the new buzz words are ‘experiential retail.’

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

In about 75 days Glendale’s voters will be asked to consider approval of the city’s request for $187.9 million in bond authorization. In order to understand this question I am offering a primer of everything you ever wanted to know (or didn’t want to know) on city bonds.

Let me answer one question up front that will be repeated elsewhere in this blog – approval of this bond authorization will not raise your taxes – not your property tax or sales tax.

The type of bonds being offered for authorization are called G.O. (General Obligation) bonds used for paying for the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In an upcoming blog I will discuss the CIP in further detail. The city uses G.O. bonds to pay for facility, infrastructure and equipment improvements valued at over $50,000.

These bonds are paid back with your property taxes. There are two categories of your property tax: your primary tax levy and your secondary tax levy. By state law, the primary property tax revenue the city collects can be used for anything but the secondary property tax levy can be used for one thing only – to pay off bonds and interest for a specific capital purpose.

In Fiscal Year 2020 the total of the city’s primary tax levy amount is $5,856,524 and the secondary tax levy amount is $20,408,799. Keep in mind the city never collects the full amount of either the primary or secondary tax because some people don’t pay their property tax.

That is why the city has a Capital Improvement Program. The CIP identifies every project that must be funded through the 6% and 20% bond categories from its secondary property tax levy.

To complicate things a bit further there are two separate categories of General Obligation, secondary property tax funded projects. These categories are based on a percentage of the value of a city’s total secondary property tax value. One category is the 6% category (of the total value of the city’s secondary property tax value). Projects that fit in the 6% category are:

  • Economic development
  • Cultural facilities
  • Government facilities
  • Libraries

Then there is the 20% category based upon the same formula – 20% of the city’s total value of its secondary property tax. Projects that fit in this category are:

  • Flood control
  • Open space and trails
  • Parks
  • Public Safety
  • Streets and parking
  • Water and sewer (the city doesn’t use G.O. bonding but instead debt is paid with water and sewer revenue – your water and sewer bills)

What is the city asking for? Your permission to allow the city to issue G.O. bonds at a ceiling of a certain amount.  While you would grant permission that doesn’t mean the city would use it right away. The city council has voiced its refusal to raise property taxes. Property taxes and sales taxes are the backbone and lifeblood of the city’s General Fund. The city’s General Fund pays for two primary things: 1. operating and maintenance costs of running city government and 2. the debt on city issued bonds. Each year the city council must balance these two competing interests seeking funding. The greater the cost of operating and maintaining city government the less there is available to issue bonds for capital improvement projects.

The last time the city asked voters for bond authorization was in 1999, 21 years ago. For example, in the last bond election voters approved bond authorization in Open Space and Trails in the amount of $50,459,000. The city has never used this full amount and still has $38,653,005 left of bond authorization. Obviously this time around, the city is not asking for any bond authority in Open Space and Trails or any other capital project categories where there is still adequate bond authority left.

Can the city just switch the $38+ million left in Open Space and Trails to another capital project category like Public Safety? The answer is by state law, no. Will your approval of the bond authorization sought raise your taxes? Again, the answer is no. The city policy is to issue bonds that can be paid back without raising taxes.

Last fall the city council authorized a citizen bond committee to review all requests for increased spending authorization. These Glendale residents were on the city council approved Bond Committee. These 7 citizens represented every district within Glendale:

  • Jon Froke, Chair
  • Lisa Baker, Vice Chair
  • Michael Boule
  • John Guers
  • Gary Hirsch
  • Ryan Wesselink
  • Michael Socaciu

After careful consideration and having received comprehensive information they have made the following recommendations for voter consideration on November 3rd. Each question requires separate voter approval:

  • Question 1 in the amount of $87.2 million for citywide park improvements, updated playgrounds, upgraded restrooms, Heroes Park completion and the O’Neil Splash Pad.
  • Question 2 in the amount of $81.5 million for street construction and reconstruction of major streets including 59th Avenue, 63rd Avenue, 83rd Avenue, Bell Road, Thunderbird Road and Bethany Home Road.
  • Question 3 in the amount of $9.9 million for our landfill’s expansion and to meet mandated environmental protections and compliance. Normally, these items would be covered by rate payers but the costs are just too high and raise rate payers’ bills dramatically.
  • Question 4 in the amount of $9.3 million for storm and drainage improvement projects.

In an upcoming blog I will go into greater detail about each of these questions.

Remember, just because voters authorize spending in these amounts for these listed items, does not mean the debt will be issued all at once. It will be issued as the General Fund can afford to pay back the debt without raising taxes.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

In my previous blog I’ve described the various groups that have coalesced supporting the candidacies of Michelle Robertson and Bryce Alexander. Why? It seems to be an “anyone but the current leadership” kind of moment where these groups are encouraging voters to support a rock, a clown or a zero rather than leadership that brought the city off the cliff of possible bankruptcy.

What is the union’s beef in this election cycle? Arick O’Hara is the Glendale chapter President of the International Fire Fighters Union (IAFF). Justin Harris is the President of the Glendale Law Enforcement Association (GLEA) and Julie Pendergast is the President of the Glendale chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). All of them are leading the charge to unseat Mayor Weiers and/or me. There is no polite way to say that they hate us, have declared war and will use whatever is necessary to get rid of us.

Did you know that you, the taxpayer, pay union representatives to conduct union business during their working hours instead of paying them for their duties as a firefighter or police officer? It’s called union “release time.” What other cities in the Valley pay for union release time? Only Phoenix. No other city, not Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Peoria or Surprise pay employees to conduct union activities during that employee’s work day. If you think they are not heavily involved in Glendale’s election activities, you are mistaken. Even though such election activities are in violation of the federal Hatch Act.

Every two years the city negotiates a renewal of an agreement on the pay and benefits for all public safety employees (commonly known as “represented employees”). When the previous agreement (2017) was negotiated and accepted, it included two union release positions for the fire union and two union release positions for police unions, one for GLEA and one for the FOP.

Think about this. You, the taxpayer, pay for union representatives to negotiate enhanced fire and police pay and benefits agreements with the City, which is, in essence, you. So you’re paying both sides of the table. You’re paying city employees to negotiate on your behalf and to protect your interest as a taxpayer and you’re paying for union representatives to negotiate for their union members getting the best pay and benefits possible for their membership – at your expense.

Subsequent to the agreement accepted two years ago, there was a rash of school shootings. Council wanted to make sure every high school in Glendale had a school resource officer. A few schools did have a resource officer and paid for the position. Others did not and chose to use their school funding for things other than a school resource officer. So the city council stepped up to the plate and with each high school’s approval placed a resource officer on each high school campus, paid for by the City of Glendale.

The funding had to come from somewhere else as the yearly budget and its expenditures had already been approved by council several months earlier. Council decided to eliminate one taxpayer funded fire union release position and one police union release position leaving each union with one release time position. No one lost their job. With each release position there were also extra hours of release time. The cost of each release position and the extra dedicated hours is in the $200,000 to $250,000 range per representative. Four union release positions and additional hours came to between $750,000 to a million dollars a year.

Each union went ballistic. How dare the city eliminate a release time position! A release position in fire was eliminated and the person occupying that position, Tony Butch, left and went to another city. FOP President Julie Pendergast’s release time position was eliminated. Julie remains in a non-patrol position within the department and has never forgotten or forgiven the loss of her use of release time.

There is more to this story. Here are the real funding numbers for each department for the past 5 years:

Fire Department

  • Fiscal Year 2017 actual budget                      $43,637,282.00
  • Fiscal Year 2018 actual budget                      $46,472,394.00
  • Fiscal Year 2019 actual budget                      $49,866.189.00
  • Fiscal Year 2020 budget estimate                  $52,127,595.00
  • Fiscal Year 2021 budget request                   $53, 501,963.00

In 5 years the Fire Department budget increased by nearly $10 million dollars or about 20% a year, far above any annual inflation rate.

Police Department

  • Fiscal Year 2017 actual budget                      $87,206,875.00
  • Fiscal Year 2018 actual budget                      $91,831,365.00
  • Fiscal Year 2019 actual budget                      $98,529,310.00
  • Fiscal Year 2020 budget estimate                 $102,471,164.00
  • Fiscal Year 2021 budget request                  $104,742,510.00

In 5 years the Police Department budget increased by $17 million dollars or about 5% a year, again greater than the yearly inflation rate.

In addition, the Fire Department, in this year’s budget alone, received additional, one-time, supplemental funding of $411,000 and the Police Department received $100,000 in supplemental funding.

One final fact to consider is that both Glendale firefighters and police officers rank among the top three paid agencies in the Valley. And oh, by the way Glendale firefighters work 52 hours compared to every other agency in the Valley that works 56 hours.

Here’s something else to think about. Fire and Police are the largest consumers of the city’s General Fund operating budget coming in between 65% and 70% annually. This council can always give them more money but when is enough, enough? More money to Public Safety means less money for every other city department funded by the General Fund. What are you willing to cut to increase Public Safety’s insatiable appetite for funding? Parks, Libraries, City Court, Community Services to the underserved and Transportation, including our streets repair program, all compete for the same funding as Public Safety. Each year’s budget is a balancing act by city council through prioritization to fund as many departmental needs as possible. Clearly this council has been generous to both departments over the past 5 years.

Why go after the mayor or me for the elimination of union release positions? We are running opposed and Councilmembers Hugh and Malnar have no opposition. They would have taken out these councilmembers as well if the opportunity existed. It is a given that they would support anyone running against any of us. If any opposition was talking and breathing, that was good enough reason for the unions to support them. 

Their goal is to get rid of the mayor, or me, hoping that there will no longer be council majority support for decisions not to their liking.

What is disappointing is that the police unions have joined the fire union is this political warfare. They should heed this warning: the fire union will stab you in the back if it is in their best interest. They come first. Police unions, you are a distant second and you know this. A stunning question to ask is why would the police unions support Democrat candidates whose presidential nominee has finally come out in favor of ‘defunding the police’?

If they succeed they will acquire political influence with the installation of Robertson and Alexander, willing to grant the fire union its agenda. Glendale could repeat the debacle of Ed Beasley and a fire union influenced administration, plunging the city into debt once again. After all, who will Robertson and Alexander owe if they win? Both are relative unknowns and neither has historically been part of community leadership or been involved in Glendale’s affairs by serving on a city board or commission and has no real working knowledge of Glendale’s affairs.

Anyone can run for any elected office as long as they meet the minimum qualifications such as being of a certain age and living in the jurisdiction to be represented. You, the voter, should expect more than that. What experience within the community do they possess? What do they plan to do to make your life better? Where do they stand on raising taxes? If Robertson and Alexander are not offering that kind of information perhaps they don’t deserve your vote. How long can they hide behind the buzz words we have heard ad nausea…like ‘transparency’? What the heck does that mean anyhow?

Glendale is the 7th largest city in the state with the adoption of this fiscal year’s budget of $747 million dollars…nearly ¾ of a billion dollars. It is the country’s 88th largest city out of nearly 20,000 incorporated cities in the United States. Glendale is no longer a small, ‘podunk’ city. It is a large suburban community reflecting the diversity of our country. You, the voter in Glendale, deserve to know each candidate’s position on a variety of issues that are important to you. Yet all Robertson and Alexander have offered is what’s wrong with Glendale. How about some positivity by sharing their vision and plans for Glendale and you? That’s not what you are getting from them.

Glendale deserves better than two liberal Democrats, whose seats were bought and paid for by the unions. Two politicians willing to sacrifice your needs for those of the unions.

Unfortunately that is politics.

Now you know who is backing Michelle Robertson and Bryce Alexander and their motives for doing so. It is important information that every voter in Glendale deserves to know.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

In my blog of June 23, 2020 entitled “Will the real Robertson please stand up?” I shared typical Facebook postings of Mayoral candidate Michelle Robertson now publicly available only to friends and family, I am told. They represent the causes and values in which she believes. Why wouldn’t she want everyone to see these? Why suddenly limit them only to friends and family? In this blog I will take a look at who is supporting and backing her candidacy and their likely motives for doing so. Even though Glendale elections are officially nonpartisan, Michelle Robertson is a Democrat activist who reportedly reached out to local Democrat groups to ask them to help her “capture” the Mayor’s office.

Unions: It appears the largest backers are the ones with the most money and manpower to spend on her behalf and that would be…wait for it…the unions, with their bottomless bank accounts and deceptive attack ads. The list is the Who’s Who’ of unions and most of them are from outside Glendale and they really have no interest in or connection to Glendale.

When I shared screen shots from her Facebook page one that was not included was this one. It demonstrates her long standing support of unions. Is that why you, an interested voter, can no longer see it?

Downtown dissidents: There are others who have decided to back Robertson, because they are angry with the current leadership of the City and have their own axes to grind. Let’s begin with the most visible representative of the downtown Glendale merchants, Cheryl Knappes. She represents a small coterie of merchants who continue to fight any changes to downtown, to the detriment of the entire downtown area and efforts to revitalize the area.

Save Glen Lakes: Another group that is unhappy with Glendale’s leadership is the ‘Save Glen Lakes’ group, one of whose leaders is Jane Bachman. The fact that the council had given approval to the city manager to sell the Glen Lakes property guaranteed their opposition. It had become a financial sinkhole at nearly a million dollars a year to maintain and operate and it needed very costly updates.

Past political losers: Then there is, for want of a better term, the political group. These are people who have run and lost, or who used to work for the city and lost their positions. The most currently visible among them is Mark Burdick, former Fire Chief, who never produced a balanced budget and ran against the mayor in the last election cycle and lost.

I must digress to show what happens when the fire union calls the shots. Our former City Manager, Ed Beasley (city manager from 2002 to 2012), was advised on major issues by our fire union. They were members of Beasley’s inner circle. Due to the influence of the Glendale fire union when Beasley left in 2012 Glendale was heavily in debt and teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Is this what we are to expect if Robertson is elected and controlled by Glendale’s fire union?

Burdick has made a formal endorsement of Robertson. Add to this mix former Councilmember Yvonne Knaack who has always been an ally of the fire unions because of their support in every one of her elections; and current Councilmember Bart Turner who has made no secret of his absolute disdain for the mayor and our city manager. He has also formally endorsed Robertson. Bruce Heatwole, former Councilmember, and close friend of Bart Turner, offered an endorsement as did Sammy Chavira, disgraced former Glendale Councilmember and a Phoenix firefighter.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and free expression of them. That the beauty of our system. They are free to support any candidate of their choosing but it is important for voters to to know the reason for their position/opinion causing their support of Robertson.That is how democracy works. There is a world of difference between supporting a candidate because you have the same positions or supporting a candidate to settle a grudge with his or her opponent. We all deserve better than that. 

In my next blog we’ll take a closer look at the unions’ motivation for supporting Robertson and Alexander…and it ain’t pretty.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

For the past seven years I have blogged about Glendale issues…the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether on city council or off I do not plan to stop.

Cardinals Way Dedication

I am running for re election as your Yucca district councilmember because I love this city and I love its people. I love representing you and I am good at it. It is an honor and privilege to serve you. My experience as a councilmember has given me the advantage of understanding how to maneuver within the corridors of power to achieve objectives that benefit Glendale’s residents and especially Yucca district residents. I always do my homework and research on every issue that comes before council. Residents and staff alike acknowledge my strength in this area. I have always been accessible to all. I listen to all points of view and have been known to change my position as the result of a strong, well reasoned argument. I have always been mindful of my expenditures because the money I spend is yours, not mine.

This has been the strangest election campaign in history.  Candidates have not been able to approach voters to meet and greet and share their personalities and positions on issues. This campaign has been all digital. That works well if all have internet access but that is not always the case and that is very concerning.

I have tried to figure out why my opponent, Bryce Alexander, is running. He has no experience in participating in the Glendale community.  His background is that of a network architect. He dabbled briefly (for about a year) as a downtown Glendale art gallery owner and is currently an associate pastor at a local church.

On July 5th on his website he finally posted what he is for and against. There are several problems with his list. First, it’s too little and too late. The very things he offers are the very things I have championed for years and for which I have a proven record. We seem to hold similar views and the only difference is that I have extensive experience and leadership in each of them.

  • My opponent is against police defunding. When the issue first surfaced weeks ago I immediately stated publicly that I would never support defunding the police and rather I will continue to defend the police. It’s taken him several weeks to get to the same position. One of our children is a retired law enforcement officer and as a Mom I have heard far too many horror stories of the dangers he faced. I support law enforcement…always have and always will.
  • My opponent is against new taxes. I have a proven record of no property tax increases for the past 4 years.

    Bryce Alexander

    That, and my reputation as a fiscal conservative, is my record.

  • My opponent says he is strong on crime prevention. Again, my record proves my position. I have always supported the funding of the Glendale Police Department resulting in an agency that ranks among the top 3 agencies in the Valley in terms of officers’ pay and benefit package.
  • My opponent supports neighborhood revitalization. I guess he’s forgotten or maybe he’s not aware of the fact that it was my work that created the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program. This program, during its lifespan, awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in neighborhood grants to upgrade some of our most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
  • My opponent says he is strong on parks and road infrastructure maintenance. It was my suggestion, adopted by the city council last year, to allocate ten million dollars a year for the next four years to upgrade existing parks and to add new amenities. My record of support for the residential street repair program is strong and has been appreciated.
  • My opponent claims to be strong on transparency and ethics in government. When you don’t have any issues to claim as yours, all politicians drag out these often used buzz words. They are platitudes. During my term, I have sent out 188 weekly E Newsletters; 6 semiannual district newsletters mailed to all 11,000 households in the district; posted innumerable times alerting residents to timely issues and shared my positions on current issues on Facebook, Twitter and NextDoor. I have also written this blog for seven years discussing Glendale’s issues. I am available via email, text or phone call. All of these means of contact are offered regularly.

So, that brings us back to why is he running?

I keep thinking about a statement he posted on Facebook on June 19, 2018 that stated, “I always get that special feeling when my name appears in print.”

Draw your own conclusion about such a statement.

If you conclude that Mr. Alexander is on an ego trip, you may be right.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

This morning the city council had a budget workshop meeting. It began with an update on the CoronaVirus situation. Let me say this. I want Glendale to declare a state of emergency and close bars, restaurants, etc. NOW. The Mayor, the City Manager and a majority of council are reluctant to do so. I believe it is necessary.

Mayor Kate Gallego did so today and I commend her and applaud her. It was not an easy decision to make. Glendale should be doing the same. The City of Flagstaff has already done so. I am convinced other cities will follow Phoenix and Flagstaff and every day that Glendale and other cities delay, is a day wasted in the enforcement of social distancing.

At the beginning at the budget portion of our workshop I asked council to consider freezing the Capital Improvement Program. We can allot a line item within the budget to preserve our capability to resume the CIP when financial conditions warrant it. We should also be freezing spending on all but essential items. Again, no support. I went through the national recession and I fear a repeat. At the very least I do not expect to see a rebound in the national economy until the fall. Those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

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