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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.

In my last blog I shared a proposed development project along 83rd Avenue where 70 rental town houses are proposed surrounded by Suburban Residential (SR-17), large lot properties. It is simply a bad proposal and needs to be rejected.

Here’s another further update on 83rd Avenue, at the southeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Glendale Avenue. The same Jon Froke who is representing the property owners asking for the 70 town houses was initially involved with this parcel as well. In fact, he was successful in getting this parcel zoned Planned Area Development (PAD).

The current proposed plan for this southeast corner is seeking yet another multifamily apartment complex and a Quik Trip gas station. There are many things wrong with this proposal but the most disturbing is the Quik Trip.

There is some history regarding the intersection of 83rd and Glendale. Mr. Sam Senato owns the property at the northwest corner. To date, he has refused to sell. Currently there is a vacant bar, Ella’s, on that corner. There is also a food truck that seems to have taken up permanent residence and has installed a permanent canopy for its patrons. I asked our Code Department to investigate this situation and apparently Mr. Senato has given the food truck operator his permission to conduct their business on his property. By the way, Mr. Senato is an absentee landlord. Apparently, as long as they have Mr. Senato’s permission, they can operate there.

On the southwest corner is a Walgreen’s and a Circle K convenience store/gas station. On the northeast corner there is an abandoned Texaco station that has been that way for over 15 years. I, and many residents, were relieved when we learned that a 7-11 was acquiring this site. I met with representatives of the prospective owners and reviewed their plans and it seemed everything was good to go.

Then, everything fell apart and the site is once again for sale. What caused 7-11 to leave? The property owner of the southeast corner has proposed a Quik Trip on their site along with a multifamily complex. When 7-11 learned of the Quik Trip, they abandoned their plan to develop the site.

The city should not accept a new gas station, Quik Trip, when there is a gas station site, vacant for 15 years that should be developed. If that Quik Trip is allowed to proceed, it will guarantee that the abandoned Texaco site will remain the ugly eyesore it is for another 15 years. Am I the only one that believes this to be short sighted and dumb?

I have noted of late that there is a stampede to build not only more gas stations but car washes as well. We do not need a gas station and car wash on every corner of our city. I have asked our City Attorney to suggest a way that I can propose a 6-month moratorium of both uses. I believe this is an issue our City Council should address by the development of new guidelines regulating the development of both types of uses within our city. I do not know if I will be successful but I want to give it a try.

I am hosting a meeting on Monday, March 7th at 6PM at the northernmost ramada adjoining Heroes Lake at 83rd and Bethany. If you live anywhere in this area, please plan to attend. We will be discussing both the 70 town houses and the Quik Trip. It is time for you to voice your objections to both of these ill-advised proposals. Please join me that evening.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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.

Glendale’s future looks very bright but there is one storm cloud on its short-term horizon and that is the near-term threat of another national recession. I would hope that the city is not forced to repeat what it did the last time and that was to defer maintenance of the city’s infrastructure.

However, my vision is not one of doom and gloom but rather building upon successes already achieved. I will “crystal ball” various components within the city from my lens as a sitting councilmember in Glendale for over 20 years. In that time, I’ve participated in the good, the bad and the ugly. I would remind you that this is my vision and just because I am visioning, it does not mean that any of my vision will become reality. I welcome readers’ comments including your vision for a Glendale of the future.

Economic Development. It should be acknowledged that most of, perhaps more than 85% of all the recent economic development successes have occurred in the Yucca district. I anticipate that trend to continue. While there are very few meaningful vacant parcels in Glendale’s other districts, there remains plenty of vacant land left for job development, especially in the western portion of the Yucca district.

All cities must continually seek the Holy Grail of economic development, or they will stagnate and eventually die. Since Arizona is a low property tax state, cities rely upon other forms of taxation and most critically, sales tax. That is why economic development is so important to any city.

There are 6 major economic nodes in Glendale – 1. Arrowhead Mall and Bell Road Corridor, 2. Downtown Glendale and 3. Westgate/Zanjero area; and I would argue 4. the Airport area, 5. the Loop 303 area, commonly referred to as the “New Frontier,” and 6. the Ballpark area.  Let’s look at my expectations for each area.

Arrowhead. I expect the Arrowhead Mall and the Bell Road corridor to continue to thrive. Despite rapidly growing use of the Internet for consumer purchasing, people still like to touch, see, and feel the products they buy. The owners of Arrowhead Mall have done an excellent job of keeping the Mall up-to-date and to refreshing its look and product offering continually. My vision is Arrowhead and the surrounding area will thrive for years to come.

Downtown. My vision is to see the Downtown area adopt some major changes or die. The city can only do so much to prop up this area and has made a major commitment with its intent to refresh the City Hall Complex which includes its Amphitheater. This area needs two components to survive and flourish. One is an entertainment destination. The current buzzword is ‘experiential retail’. People expect not just to shop but expect an opportunity to be entertained in some form or fashion. An entertainment destination for the Downtown should be a movie theater, performing arts theater, museum, or art gallery—a facility that draws people downtown, every day, 365 days a year. Look at Phoenix. It was not by whim that it located a science museum and a history museum in its downtown.

Our Downtown also needs a mass of new residents. This will happen. All it takes is one apartment complex developer to locate Downtown and others will follow. A vibrant downtown needs people to live, work and play within it.

The other missing component essential to a vibrant downtown is the creation of a Downtown Merchants Association that becomes the only legitimate voice and a catalyst for Downtown Glendale. Downtown Glendale is split between two opposing groups – those who will not embrace any change to Downtown and those who embrace the need for change. Until those two factions unite into one, viable Downtown Merchants Association that requires ‘skin in the game’ in the form of annual dues as well as a commitment by its members to be open on a regular basis, stagnation will continue. How long can stagnation exist before the common body dies? I suspect for a few more years. Time is running out for Downtown Glendale. While the city adds Café Lighting and refreshes its Amphitheater, it does not and cannot solve its deep-seated problems and only prolongs the agony.

Westgate/Zanjero area. This area continues to exceed all expectations. As I say repeatedly, the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort, once opened, will change the character of the area forever. It is a powerhouse development project that will draw visitors from all over the world. My vision for the area is to see development continued on all parking lot space and parking to be contained to several large parking garages. The space is simply too valuable to continue to be used for parking and that includes the city owned ‘Black Parking Lot’. My vision also includes the city’s sale of the Gila River Arena to an experienced entity committed to creating profitability by booking events nearly every day of the year. If, someday, the arena is sold, my vision would be to use the proceeds to finance construction of Heroes Park Recreation and Aquatic Center and to finance the construction of a museum in Downtown Glendale. My vision would be to create a partnership with the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian has rotating exhibits that are placed throughout the country. One of my fondest experiences while attending college in Baltimore was to go to D.C. and spend a day at the Smithsonian. It has so many wonderful exhibits and it would take someone a month or better to visit everyone on a daily basis.

Loop 303 area. Development of this area as a job corridor is booming. I expect its growth to continue for a few more years until nearly all developable land is consumed. To meet the employment demand that this area generates it is my vision that the city focus on retraining and reeducation of our work force by partnering with our educational institutions to create nodes of work force training in key locations throughout the city. My vision also includes partnerships with education to create more STEM centers throughout the city.

Airport area. This area to-date has been underutilized and underappreciated. My vision is to see the land on the east side of the airport developed as a major airpark in the next few years. The runways should be elongated to their maximum extent possible to attract more corporate jet traffic. My vision also includes developing a connection over the Agua Fria River so that there is connectivity between the Westgate area and the Airport.

Ballpark area. This area is on the cusp of an explosion of new development. Since Ballpark Boulevard was constructed the connection between the Westgate/Zanjero area and this area has been enhanced. There are several hundred acres of prime, vacant land to be developed. My vision is to see a limited amount of residential apartment development to create some mass in the area but also to see more retail/commercial development in the area. And yes, another hotel would be a welcome addition to the area. My vision is to see strong interconnectivity between the Westgate/Zanjero area, the Airport area and the Ballpark area. When that occurs Glendale will ensure its economic prosperity and vitality for years to come.

There are some parts of my vision that don’t fit neatly into the above cited economic boxes but should be part of not just my vision but that of the city vision. One of these is to address low socio-economic, minority neighborhoods. A city is only as great as its marginalized neighborhoods. If we continue to ignore them, they will spread and destabilize other parts of our great city. Right now, there is a continual circle in these neighborhoods. Because they are already marginalized, we continue to allow non-profit organizations, in the name of doing good and serving their client populations, to plant more services in these neighborhoods. As more non-profits locate in an area, the more likely even more poor and minority populations locate there. It’s time to break this vicious cycle. Non-profits and low-income housing must be dispersed throughout the city. There are all kinds of good, sound reasons to do so that I will not elaborate upon at this time.

Another vision that doesn’t fit neatly into a box is that of art and culture within our city. These elements reflect who we are and what we value at any given point in time. Glendale has historically lacked the commitment to value art. My vision is to emphasize visual art throughout the city. It isn’t just a mural on the side of a building in Downtown or an historically themed statue placed in front of a city building. It’s a commitment by the city to encourage the use of art not just at a newly constructed building but the encouragement, even if it means financially, of older buildings to adopt art as an element of their public face. My vision is to see the use of art liberally throughout the city on both public and private property.

My vision also includes greater appreciation of the various ethnicities and cultures that historically birthed Glendale – Russians, Asians, Hispanic and yes, Caucasians. I would like to see an annual festival that celebrates the history, the food, the music of all these groups who came together to envision our community.

I am sure I left something out and I expect you, the reader, will tell me. The bottom line is that we all want the same things – a clean Glendale everywhere within it, a safe Glendale everywhere within it, a Glendale with employment opportunities within it for you, a Glendale that offers superior services to all its residents, a Glendale that offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities, a beautiful Glendale and a Glendale that values and recognizes its past. We may have differing visions on how to get there.

We’re not there yet but maybe that’s a good thing. It offers us an opportunity to dream, to act and to strive to make Glendale even better.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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 haven’t written for awhile simply because being a Glendale City councilmember is more complicated and busier than ever. It takes a minimum of 3 hours and often days to write, edit and publish one blog.  I miss writing and I need to make a concerted effort to carve out the time to do so. Be that as it may, there are many events of which to make note.  Most are not enough for a full blog on their own but should be recognized.

Arguably, the most important recent event is the Grand Opening of Heroes Regional Park Lake. While the celebration was occurring, people were already catching fish. About 100 residents came to the ceremony and many expressed their gratitude to see this wonderful addition to the park. Next up will be to get some sports fields constructed followed by the biggest, most expensive ticket item, the Recreation & Aquatics Center.

Inflation is killing all of us, including cities. Yesterday I filled up my car to the tune of $56. Before Biden that same tank of gas cost me about $25 or $30. My weekly grocery bill has increased by about 40%. Then there are supply chain issues. My local Safeway has had bare shelves, especially in the pasta and chicken sections. They haven’t had any chicken for the past 10 days.

This situation is rough on people on a fixed income, like me and obviously on the poor. From what we all hear it will continue throughout 2022 and we can expect prices to go even higher. The same holds true for cities. For instance, Glendale uses a lot of chemicals to treat its water supply. Those same chemical prices have risen about 30%. This same scenario goes for everything from copy paper, cleaning supplies to vehicle parts and maintenance. While Glendale is earning more revenue than ever before it is paying higher prices than ever before.

Development in the Loop 303 area continues to boom. Several new projects have been announced and there continues to be more in the pipeline. The industry has recognized that Glendale’s “New Frontier” is an established job corridor in the Valley.

Westgate continues to thrive with new development as well. After some internal delays on the part of the developer, Tiger Woods’ Pop Stoke will begin construction any day and is slated to be completed this fall. To the east of the AMC theater, a pickle ball complex complete with a restaurant and bar and rental facilities, ala Top Golf, is slated to start construction in the near future and is expected to be open prior to the Super Bowl. The Thirsty Lion, a 2-story restaurant and bar, situated between the arena and the Renaissance Hotel, is about to start construction as well. A new concept restaurant, exclusively serving some of the most decadent desserts you can possibly imagine, will take the place of the Saddle Ranch Chop House.

Let’s not forget the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort development. I continue to believe it is the most significant development ever to occur within Glendale. It is a mini-Disneyland without the $100+ a day charge per person to enter. Expect about 12 million visitors a year. It will contribute nearly $10M a year in sales tax revenue to Glendale. I expect it to draw visitors not just from the state or the southwest but nationally and even internationally. It’s a Saturday and I just checked their live camera. Earth moving equipment is busy today and the large crane was in use. If you would like to check it out, use this site: https://app.truelook.cloud/dashboard/553/923/live?code=15hm7ev0xey9jmgpfyf2jd9e0&fbclid=IwAR2VhkoN56nBnnmqMouCzAWFM9BHxtvSmNlj83REtd_D2fuA3g9vdeZ-SAY

One of the city services most loved by residents is sanitation. Recently our City Manager related that 44% of the sanitation drivers were out with Covid. Sanitation division managers and employees from other departments stepped up to fill the void resulting in no disruption in your service. Your trash was collected as usual and I bet you had no idea that Covid was crippling the department’s ability to service you. Yet I recently read that the same kind of situation occurred in Tempe resulting in a disruption of pick-up service for about a week. Two cities, two different ways to handle the problem.

At our next council voting meeting I will vote to approve a rate increase in sanitation. Sanitation is run by Michelle Woytenko, Director of Field Operations. Ms. Woytenko is one of the best Directors in the city of Glendale. She is no nonsense and provides excellent information and service to every resident. Our office has contacted her to report a citizen’s trash pick-up being missed and Ms. Woytenko will have someone picking it up the same day. Her explanation for a rate increase was logical and persuasive.

Speaking of money, in February the city council begins its annual budget oversight and preparation for the next fiscal year. We will begin with the Capital Improvement Program. This is the portion of the budget that lays out what infrastructure the city will build, rehabilitate, improve, or maintain for the next 5 years. It is one of the most important segments of the city budgetary process.

The city has completed its redistricting process and submitted its plan to the state and the feds for final approval. As of now, unless something dramatic occurs, the new city council boundaries are set not only for the next election in November of 2022 but for the next ten years until the next census.

There has been minimal accommodation for the tremendous growth occurring in the Yucca district. Instead of creating all districts with a population of about 41,000 the Yucca district will start with a population of 39,000. However, I contended that the accommodation is insufficient. I anticipate an additional 14,000 moving into the Yucca district in the next few years. I anticipate a population in the Yucca district of about 55,000. The Yucca district is the ‘gorilla’ of Glendale’s districts. It is the largest geographically; it accounts for about 80% of all recent and current economic development within the city; and will soon have the greatest population of all the districts. Much of the new population can be attributed to Stonehaven, a residential development between Camelback and Bethany, 83rd to 91st Avenues. At build-out it will contain 1,365 new homes. Another factor is the multitude of apartment complexes in the Westgate area. Westgate needs a mass of people living there to support all its retail and restaurants.

The eastern boundary between the Yucca and Ocotillo districts has changed. From Northern Avenue to Orangewood Avenue the boundary is 75th Avenue. The east side of 75th is in the Ocotillo District and the west side is in the Yucca district. At Orangewood Ave to Glendale Avenue the boundary is 71st Avenue. From Glendale Avenue to Bethany Home Road the boundary is 75th Avenue. Note that Independence Heights subdivision is now in the Ocotillo district. From Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road the boundary is 67th Avenue. Here is a map that shows the dividing lines between the Yucca district and the Ocotillo district:

Council is moving forward on remodeling the City Hall complex. It demonstrates our commitment to downtown Glendale. The exterior look of the buildings will be updated. The parking garage, long in need of major repairs, will be rehabilitated. The concept of offering free, live entertainment year round at the city amphitheater will continue in a newly reconfigured and updated area. Murphy Park will receive an update as well.

You may have noticed that I am the only councilmember to consistently vote ‘no’ on the city’s awarding of 5-year contracts to vendors of services and supplies. I do so for several reasons. A 5-year contract is longer than a city council term of office which is 4 years. That results in no continuity of oversight by the council. If a new councilmember comes in there is no knowledge of the existing contract or its terms or pricing. In addition, the contracts are often for ordinary goods or services and 5-year contracts for those items do not create a competitive atmosphere. Some say a 5-year contract is good because it locks in prices for 5 years even during inflationary periods such as now. Not so, quite a few contracts have come before us lately as amended seeking our approval for an increase. In all cases, the vendors are asking for increases to cover inflationary costs. So a 5-year contract does not lock in prices during the term of the contract. In addition, the same vendor who asked for a price increase, if prices decline, never, ever, comes back to offer the city an adjusted lower cost to reflect that decline. It’s all one way and always higher. I believe contracts should be no longer than 3 years and then put out for bid again.

Lastly, a few thoughts about the city owned Gila River Arena and the Coyotes. The city was not bluffing or positioning itself for a better lease deal with the Coyotes when it terminated the lease agreement. The city council has approved a contract with HKO to rehabilitate the arena. Deliberately moving from a sports venue to an entertainment venue requires a venue that is comfortable and welcoming to its attendees. After years of flaky ownership – Ellman, Moyes, LeBlanc, Barroway, etc., a consistently losing team and financial difficulties, it’s fair to say enough is enough. We wish the Coyotes well and harbor no ill will. It’s up to the Tempe city council to decide if they can do better. I would simply ask them to consider these questions: Does each member of the council believe there is a bond of trust between themselves and the current ownership group? Has Tempe’s staff done its due diligence, and can it demonstrate that the ownership group has the finances to invest into such a project? Will the ownership want financial contributions from the city of Tempe and does the city have the bond capacity for such a project? In an election year how will Tempe residents react to any deal that requires the city to spend taxpayer dollars for another sports arena in the Valley?

This new year will be interesting to say the least. Glendale is in the strongest financial position it has had for years. We will weather this inflationary period and come out on the other side, stronger and more resilient. We have the funds to expend on one-time projects that will benefit our citizens and create a better, more vibrant Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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 past week I had the opportunity to visit the site for a status update. The end is near. In mid-December we will turn the water on and fill the lake. Shortly thereafter, Arizona Game and Fish will stock the lake. During the winter months expect trout to be introduced and during the summer months perch and catfish will be added.

We could have the Grand Opening after Christmas but with people being out of town and the rush of holiday activities we decided to hold off until after New Year’s Day. Expect a public announcement inviting the public to the Grand Opening slated for the first week in January of 2022. It’s a nice Christmas present and start to the New Year for Glendale residents. My Council Assistant, Shannon, and I are already working on a fishing event for next year.

I thought I would share construction progress to date. These photos show fish habitats provided by Arizona Game and Fish. Fish need places to hide and these habitats will grow algae and other “gunk” on them turning them into secluded oases for the fish.

Fish habitat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also note that in selected spots you can see black material running down the slope of the lake. Some are already being covered by rocks. These are more fish sanctuaries where they will be able to rest and to hide.

Fish habitat on lake slope

The sidewalk surrounding the lake is complete and for those who wish to walk or jog, one lap around the lake is ¾ of a mile.

Pump house under construction

The pump house that will contain the heart of the water system and filtration is now under construction.

Along the rim of the lake, just below the water line, a ‘shot crete’ coating is now being applied. This surface will also receive additional rock on top of it.

The irrigation for the landscaping is now being installed to be followed by plants, trees and shrubs. There will be two fishing piers, one of the east side and one on the west side of the lake. The only element that will not be installed by the time of the Grand Opening are the ramadas. Due to supply chain issues, the steel delivery needed for their frames has not arrived.

Site of one of the ramadas

I cannot begin to tell you how excited and pleased I am to see this element of the park becoming a reality. After 23 years, the park is now beginning to take shape and to develop its own identity.

The next park element that I am working on are the sports fields that will be located in the northeast quadrant of the park. Having these sports fields will finally offer children a place to run, throw and kick a ball. I am working on having the design of the fields in our next fiscal year’s budget followed by their construction shortly thereafter.

The major element still to be installed is the Recreation and Aquatics Center. I believe the time has come to address this issue. After redistricting of the city council district boundaries is approved by the council, the Yucca district will be the largest district geographically, the district with the greatest population within the next few years, and the district containing about 80% of all of the economic growth within Glendale. The Crystal Island Resort Lagoon of Glendale development alone will earn the city almost $10 million a year in sales tax. The construction of a Recreation and Aquatics Center will serve all south and west Glendale residents, nearly 100,000 people. The explosion of economic and population growth within the Yucca district necessitates this facility. It is long overdue.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 haven’t written a blog in quite some time but I have a good excuse. The city council has just gone through its budget season which consumed our lives. In an effort to “do my homework” I have spent countless hours studying hundreds of pages of budget material. In addition to creating city policy the annual budget is the most important council activity.

Money is the life’s blood of our lives. If we have enough, we’re comfortable. If we don’t have enough, we’re miserable. Money is the life’s blood of all governments, from local to federal. Who ever directs its spending has the power.

The Glendale City Council has had 9 meetings since January building its annual budget.  For Fiscal Year 21-22 Glendale’s total budget is $1.242 billion dollars. It breaks down as follows:

  • An operating budget of $730 million dollars or 59% of the total budget. The police and fire budgets consume most of the operating budget coming in at 66%. This budget convers all employee salaries and benefits, all supplies, and all usual day to day equipment (such as computers and phones) and all minor purchases and contracts needed to operate (such as building cleaning services). In addition to employee salaries and benefits and public safety it convers such services as community services and transportation.
  • Our capital improvement budget totals $280 million dollars or 28%. This budget is used to construct new amenities such as Heroes Park Lake and the O’Neil Splash Pad and to repair and maintain all sorts of things such as a fire station, a park irrigation system, the adult center entry way or repainting Sahuaro Ranch fencing. It covers items such as streets, the airport and transit.
  • The contingency budget is $139 million dollars or 11%. Our contingency funds are just that. For example, the council approves a construction project that totals $500,000 but it turns out that lumber prices have tripled. Yet the council approved allocation is that $500,000. Contingency can be used to cover the costs associated with the rising and unexpected costs of materials.
  • The debt budget is $93 million dollars or 7%. It not only convers the debt on the arena and spring training facility but debt arising from the capital improvement program.

Some of the departmental highlights within this year’s budget include:

  • Community Services will continue to provide pass through services for the distribution of federal Covid funding for emergency rental and utility services.
  • Development Services will see the addition of 3 new inspectors to handle the tremendous amount of new construction we see at the Loop 303 and elsewhere throughout the city.
  • The Fire Department will add a second federally granted funded Medical Response Unit and will get new and replacement turnout gear.
  • The Police Department will provide cell phones for all sworn personnel and institute a drone program as a tool to combat crimes in progress.
  • The Public Facilities, Recreation and Special Events Department will see Heroes Lake constructed this year in addition to upgrades to 3 community centers and Foothills Recreation and Aquatics Center along with park restroom replacements and the addition of a mid-city splash pad.
  • The Facilities Department will oversee City Court, Glendale’s Operations Campus, and amphitheater renovations.

There are two fiscal issues that should be noted. The Arizona Legislature will likely pass a presumptive fire fighter cancer bill. This means all fire fighter cancer claims will be automatically presumed to have occurred while being on the job. Previously a fire fighter had to provide proof that the cancer was the direct result of working as a fire fighter. Now, cities will have to prove that the cancer did not occur because of that work. In other words, all fire fighters’ cancers will have to be covered by cities. This new fiscal burden will add millions of dollars of liability to each and every city in the state.

Another legislative bill under consideration is the reduction of state shared income tax paid to all cities and will be a substantial hit. This will reduce the amount of state shared revenue received by every city in the state. So, at a time when the legislature is adding another fiscal liability by requiring all cities to cover all fire fighter cancers it is also reducing the amount of money received by reducing the income tax payments it shares with all cities. Don’t be surprised if some small cities and towns find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. These legislative mandates are unsustainable.

The good news is the Glendale city council has achieved a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 21-22 which begins on July 1, 2021. There are many elements within it that will upgrade all of Glendale and add amenities unable to be achieved due to the past recession. You will see parks that look and feel better. You will see roads that continue to receive pavement management or reconstruction of major arterial streets. You will see the city continue to assist those in need because of Covid. You will see neglected city facilities receiving long overdue repairs and upgrades. You will see a better Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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.

One of the major reasons the 4 bond authorization questions at Glendale’s November election went down in flames was because voters feared an automatic increase in the amount of Glendale property tax they would have to pay.

To refresh your memory there were 4 bond questions.  Question 1 asked for $87.2 million for Parks and Recreation and included Heroes Park build out. Question 2 asked for $81.5 million for street construction and reconstruction primarily of arterial streets and would have included 59th, 67th and 83rd Avenues as well as reconstruction of Bell Road, Thunderbird Road and Bethany Home Road. Question 3 was under $10 million for continued expansion of the new north portion of the landfill and its debt would have been paid off by users of city sanitation services. Question 4, also under $10 million would have been to improve local drainage issues such as fixing the flooding on Glenn Drive.

At all public meetings designed to provide information on these bond questions, by state law, the city was required to provide you with the worst-case scenario. From these public meetings the following was offered to the public, “However, as part of the disclosures we are required to tell you that the amount of the proposed bond authorization combined with the outstanding debt would exceed the city’s constitutional debt limit. But as we’ve said, once before, the city’s paying off some debt which will keep the amount of outstanding bonds below either limit (6% or 20%) and no bonds can or will be issued that would exceed the city’s constitutional debt limit.” (Assistant City Manager Vicki Rios, October 2020 public bond meeting)

However, what was little known or unclear to the voters was Resolution NO. R20-137 approved by the city council on October 13, 2020. Over the years, the informal council policy had been to maintain a flat (no increase) levy for property taxes. The city’s debt capacity could only increase by the value of new properties added to the city’s tax rolls each year, but it had never been formally adopted.

With the adoption of this resolution this policy became formal and states in part, “The City Council will not authorize the issuance of new G.O. bonds if the levy amount required to pay the debt service on existing G.O. bonds plus the new G.O. bonds exceeds the amount of the current year’s tax levy plus an amount of up to 2% per year for new growth (i.e. new property added to the tax rolls).”

With the formal adoption of this long-standing city council policy by resolution, the state disclosure requiring the city to tell you what the worst-case scenario could be is based upon the assumption that there would be an increase in the property tax levy. This disclosure is required but becomes irrelevant and is a moot point with the adoption of Resolution R20-137.

I am disappointed, obviously, that these 4 bond authorization questions did not gain voter approval. The items presented to voters were the result of the hard and extensive work done by a citizen bond committee. These were items that citizens who studied the issue felt were necessary to move our city forward. City council did not create these recommendations and after listening to their recommendations, approved them.

With the failure of all 4 bond authorization questions, projects that would have been funded will be scaled back, eliminated altogether or delayed for many years. The decisions regarding the projects will be considered by the city council when it takes up budget discussions this spring.

As the Yucca district councilmember, I want Yucca constituents to be aware that some of these bond authorizations are personally important to you. The Parks and Recreation bond authorization question, if it had passed, would have authorized the amount of $47 million to finally complete Heroes Park. This park has been in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) since 1998, a period of 23 years. It would have included sports fields, a Recreation & Aquatics Center (like the one in north Glendale), a dog park and library expansion. (Please note Heroes Park Lake begins construction this March/April and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2021).

With a doubling of the population in the Yucca district since the last census in 2010, amenities such as the completion of Heroes Park and reconstruction of Bethany Home Road are no longer luxuries but necessities. As more and more people move into this district the need for these amenities becomes greater and greater and the lack of them puts our district at a disadvantage with other districts in the city as well as with neighboring cities such as Peoria and Avondale.

Another infrastructure issue that would have been fixed included in the Streets Bond Authorization was Bethany Home Road between Glendale Avenue and Northern Avenue. It is a mess and frankly, embarrassing. Now I do not know when it will be reconstructed.

I would hope that the city would again present these items to the voters, perhaps at our next election in 2022. I would hope that the next time it is made clear that your property taxes will not go up and a more complete explanation of the projects to be funded would be offered.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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.

Ever since I began serving again on city council in 2012, I have been hosting a half hour video called “Beyond the Headlines.” Each councilmember has a half hour video and has named their segment as they chose. I chose “Beyond the headlines” because I wanted to take a deeper dive into specific Glendale announcements.

My latest video can be viewed on Cox cable Channel 11 TV and you can also go to the city of Glendale website and navigate to the latest offerings on Channel 11 and view them online at the city site if you do not have access.

I am especially pleased and proud of my latest video. Yucca residents know that development has exploded in our district. They see the new subdivisions as they travel on our district streets. They can see the construction taking place at Westgate and now Zanjero but they may not be as familiar with all of the development occurring around the Loop 303.

I thought it would be a good idea to put all of Yucca’s development into one half hour video. In order to see all that is happening for the very first time the media production team used a drone video.

I think this is the best video the media team has ever produced. Since you may not have access to view it I am sharing with you now:  https://vimeo.com/475688261/f6a548d471 . I am very proud of Glendale and the Yucca district and quite frankly, I wanted to show everyone just how great our district is. Not only is there room for even more residential development but the opportunities for commercial/industrial/retail in the Loop 303 area are incredible.

In addition to the tremendous amount of development in the Loop 303 area, now estimated at about 10 million square feet already approved, the announcement of Crystal Islands Lagoon Resort Glendale delivers an impact that will be felt throughout the Southwestern United States. It complements our professional sports venues for the Arizona Cardinals, the Phoenix Coyotes, the White Sox and the Dodgers by bringing a major entertainment themed resort to Arizona.

So, when you have a moment, sit back with a cup of coffee and catch up on what’s happening in the Yucca district in Glendale. I hope you enjoy the bird’s eye 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.

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 you may, or may not be aware, I have been working hard to make Heroes Park Lake a reality. I am pleased to share this first rendering of Heroes Park Lake to be located on the east side of 83rd Avenue just north of Bethany Home Road at Heroes Regional Park. This rendering shows the position and size of the lake (approximately 5 acres) but it does not show ‘the bells and whistles’ that will be incorporated. Since it will be a fishing lake there will be a few fishing piers, a 20’ foot fountain, several shade structures, benches and the planting of larger trees (none of which is depicted in this rendering).

I am so excited and pleased to be able to finally announce that this lake is definitely coming to the park and soon. There are a lot of moving parts that complicated this project including coordination with Salt River Project. Final details on the amenities are still to be determined and finalized. The latest schedule is that work will begin in the first quarter of this coming year, around this coming March or April.

 I thank all city personnel that will make this project a reality. If I omit some names, please accept my apology. Thanks to City Manager Kevin Phelps, Assistant City Mangers Jack Friedline (technical) and Vicki Rios (financing), Don Bessler, Special Projects Engineering and Trevor Ebersole, Director of Transportation and Streets (includes engineering). Many more were involved. My thanks also goes to the entire City Council. Without their approval this project would never have occurred. I appreciate their recognition of and commitment to fulfilling the city’s promise to complete Heroes Park. My thanks to every Yucca district resident for your patience. You have had to wait over 20 years to see this park completed. I believe the lake is just the beginning of the road to placing all elements within this park.

© 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.

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.

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.

 

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