Ak-Chin offers $2.6M to MUSD; $7.4M to city

By Kyle Daly

May 7, 2013 - 10:50 pm
Mayor Christian Price, far right front row, announces Ak-Chin Indian Community gifts of $2.6 million to MUSD and $7.4 million to the city during Tuesday council meeting. Kyle Daly photo

The Ak-Chin Indian Community is making two generous offers to its next door neighbor.

During Tuesday’s Maricopa City Council meeting, Mayor Christian Price announced the tribal community will give a $2.6 million gift to the Maricopa Unified School District as well as offer $7.4 million to the city of Maricopa for the operation of a new aquatic center and recreation complex.

The surprise announcement came during Mayor Christian Price’s report to the public. It was not specified on the agenda.

During the announcement, Price was joined on stage by city council members, the school district superintendent, school district board members and Ak-Chin community leaders, including Tribal Council Chairman Louis Manuel, Jr.

Price announced the gifts separately, first addressing the donation to the school district and then money that would go toward the Copper Sky Recreation Complex.

“This is funding that is coming directly from our community,” Manuel said to the public after the announcement of the school district donation. “This is funding that drives resources and the development in our community that we are sharing with the city of Maricopa. So this is our money in the community that our membership are putting forward.”

The school district board has had to make tough decisions in recent months, including the possibility of closing a middle school, while facing a $1 million budget shortfall in the next school year.

Manuel said the district’s limited resources contributed to “a lot of concern” not only for Native American students but to all Maricopa students.

“It’s ideal for both communities,” Manuel said of the school district donation.

The Copper Sky Recreation Complex, a 52,000-square-foot multigenerational and aquatic center and 94-acre regional park, is under construction at John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road. The project, expected to be complete next year, is being funded with bond money that will be paid back through secondary property taxes.

Price said the funding to operate the center has never been in the city’s budget, and he said as an elected official, he’s a “little worried about that.”

The tentative fiscal year 2013-14 budget set for adoption next month includes a newly created special revenue fund for the operation of the center. The $7.4 million donation would be placed into that fund.

“The money that we propose is going to help them at least to get started and then develop and create a revenue stream from that point forward,” Manuel said.

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