Tags Articles tagged with "City of Maricopa"

City of Maricopa

Photo by Victor Moreno

Maricopa has the water to grow, but it also has a plan.

“Maricopa has had tremendous growth in its early incorporation,” said Kazi Haque, Maricopa’s assistant director of Development Services.

Haque said one of the big hurdles the city has to jump is the flood plain, as it is holding up the construction of 2,000 to 3,000 homes that have been approved. The proposed homes sit in the flood plain.

Transportation corridors are another big concern highlighted in the city’s planning.

Also in the series Drought & Development
Overview
Councilman gives Arizona 30 years left to survive
O’Halleran: Drought means no shortage of water issues
Contingency plan bites into Pinal County agriculture
GWR touts strong water future

“We have been practicing sustainable development,” Haque said. “Our Vision 2040 that our council approved several years ago in 2015 gives us the overall vision of which direction the city needs to go. That was our citizen-driven vision process. These are the ideas we’ve gotten from the citizens, telling us what to do.”

Once the city has a vision it is written into the general plan.

“It gives everybody a blueprint of our physical development for the next 15-20 years,” he said. “These are state-required policies that we have to maintain. Every city and town of a general population has to have a plan,” Haque said.

He said the general plan is the only governing document that must be approved by the voters of a community.

“This is approved by the voters, and we hear what the voters want,” said City of Maricopa public information officer Adam Wolfe. “Each department develops their own strategic plan to achieve these goals. We model our next year or two based on these goals. We do take this to heart. This is what our citizens want, and this is what they have approved.”

One advantage of Maricopa being such a young city compared to most in Arizona is that the infrastructure is new and built with technology and the future in mind.

“When you can develop things from the start that are more efficient, you have a much more sustainable city,” said Wolfe.

Haque said planned growth is also more sustainable because a city can provide infrastructure like water more effectively when growth happens in an area, not “leap-frogging” around the city.

“We plan for it and make it more cohesive rather than fragmented,” Haque said adding, “You plan it but sometimes things go wrong. We try to be cognizant of those facts and educate our staff and ourselves all of the time. We are up to date on technology as well as the rules and regulations.”

Haque said Maricopa is one of the last areas around Phoenix that has large tracts of land available.

“In 2003, they were building homes out here, 60 miles away from the county seat,” Haque said. “There was no real oversight. They were just rapidly building homes. The founding fathers thought they better have control of this place, or it would just be another town out in the desert. That’s when they decided to create a city.”

Though Arizona remains in a long-term drought that has lasted more than 20 years, an assured water supply in Maricopa has prevented the serious concern its possible depletion has caused in the rest of the state. As a result, Haque said Maricopa has “great potential” for growth. The city’s planning area actually covers 270 square miles. In all, the city has the potential to add up to 250,000 residential homes if it actually builds out its planning area.

The city’s planning area goes as far south as Interstate 8.

Haque said planning for inside the city’s boundaries is one thing, but there are variables  the city can’t control, namely road construction that connects Maricopa with the outside world.

“We have this vision. We have the resources set up,” Haque said. “You have to plan it in advance to make sure the infrastructure is in place. If we look at our projection in 2030 or 2040 or 2050, do we have adequate roads? Can they hold current traffic?”

Maricopa may plan their city, but they don’t own the roads leading to Phoenix, Chandler and Casa Grande.

“We need the resources right now,” Haque said. “When you talk outside the city limits you’re talking big money. If you’re talking about east-west corridors and that kind of stuff to Casa Grande and I-10, we’re talking about a lot of money.”

Wolfe said inside the city “we’re in very good shape. We have the plan and we have the natural resources in place like water. The only thing that limits potentially Maricopa from growing is roads. It is access to the city. When you go out of the city limits, we don’t control the roads.”

Wolfe said the City of Maricopa is working with its partners, the state of Arizona and the Gila River Indian Community to make needed improvements take place.

“If you get 160,000 people here by 2050, you have to make sure they can access other areas,” Wolfe said.

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Maricopa City Code requires all business and residential alarm users to obtain an alarm permit and register that permit with the city’s alarm administrator.

Policy updates were made back in October, and are going into effect on Monday, March 11.

On Oct. 4, 2018, it became the responsibility of the alarm user to register and annually renew their alarm system permit with the alarm administrator.

Registration must be completed by the alarm user within 10 days from the date of installation of the alarm system.

Registration will be completed online using the City of Maricopa’s SMARTgov online portal. If no computer or Internet access is available, the alarm user should visit either City Hall or the Police Department for assistance to register their alarm permit.

If an alarm user has multiple alarm systems, a permit is required for each alarm system even if the alarm systems are located at the same address.

A fee of $20 per alarm permit is required upon registration and annual renewal.

Any change of address or ownership of the alarm system will require a new permit to be registered and will be subject to the $20 registration fee. Alarm permits are not transferable.

Permits expire 1 year from issuance. The alarm administrator will notify the alarm user of the need to renew the alarm permit 30 calendar days prior to the expiration date.

 

False Alarms

An alarm user to which law enforcement are requested to respond to a false alarm, shall be charged a false alarm fee. No fee shall be charged for the first false alarm, if the alarm user completes an online alarm user awareness class and submits the alarm user awareness class acknowledgement within thirty (30) days of the date of the false alarm notification letter.

# False Alarms           Penalty
1                                    $50 – No fine if online Alarm User Awareness Class completed
2                                    $50
3                                    $100
4-7                                $200
8+                                 Suspension

False alarms resulting from the following shall not be counted against the alarm user and no response fee shall be charged:

When it is reasonable to assume the alarm was due to violent conditions of nature including an electrical storm which have been verified by the National Weather Service;

Cable, line or power failure which has been specifically verified by the appropriate utility company serving the alarm location;

For alarm resulting from valid situations requiring a response by law enforcement as verified by a report filed by such personnel;

For alarms received from governmental building alarm systems.

If an alarm is received by the City of Maricopa Police Communications Center from an alarm system which has not been registered or renewed as required in Article 10-4 Alarm Systems, a civil penalty of $100 shall be assessed against the alarm user for having failed to register or renew the alarm system within the City of Maricopa. Such penalty shall be in addition to the false alarm charges assessed to the alarm user.

 

Appeals

Should a disagreement arise over whether any particular false alarm fee or civil penalty should be assessed, the alarm user may appeal by submitting a letter of appeal within 10 calendar days of the date of invoice. Failure to submit an appeal within ten (10) days of the notification date shall constitute a waiver of the right to contest the assessment of fees or civil penalties.

Appeals must be mailed or emailed to:

City of Maricopa Police Department
Attn: Alarm Administrator
39675 W. Civic Center Plaza South
Maricopa, AZ 85139

alarm@maricopa-az.gov

A full copy of the appeal requirements is available on the Internet.

 

Suspension of Response

All false alarm fees or civil penalties are due and payable within 30 days from the date of invoice. If an invoice remains unpaid, a $5 late fee will be assessed for every 30 days the account remains delinquent. The failure of an alarm user to make payment of any assessed civil penalty(ies) within ninety (90) days from the date of the invoice may result in discontinuance of law enforcement response.

Law enforcement response may be reinstated for a delinquent account, if the alarm user:

Pays, or otherwise resolves to the satisfaction of the alarm administrator, all fees and/or penalties.

Response to an alarm system may be suspended if the location has more than eight (8) false alarms per registration year and/or fails to pay fees or penalties as set forth in this chapter. Response may be reinstated if the alarm user submits to the alarm administrator:

A $20 reinstatement fee.

Sufficient articulation in writing, addressing proactive measures to be implemented, preventing false alarms in the future.

Certification from an alarm company, properly licensed, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and/or repaired (if necessary), only with cases where repetitive, obvious malfunctioning of the alarm system occurred.

 

Alarm users offered awareness class

The City of Maricopa offers a free online false alarm school for alarm users who have had false alarms. The alarm user awareness class is available on the internet.

The class and the alarm user awareness class acknowledgement form both need to be completed within thirty (30) calendar days of the original notification date.

The class can only be taken for one false alarm in a twelve-month period.

If the alarm user does not complete the on-line alarm training and submit the acknowledgement within the proper time frame, a civil penalty of $50 will be assessed to the alarm user’s account.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Who needs an alarm permit?

A: Every residence and business within Maricopa city limits with an audible alarm, monitored or not, is required to obtain an alarm permit from the Maricopa Police Department within 10 days of installation or 30 days from obtaining possession of a property with an alarm system previously installed.

Q: Where do I go to apply for or renew my alarm permit?

A: Visit the city web page here and follow the instructions to apply for an alarm permit.

Q: What is the cost of an annual alarm permit?

A: Alarm permits cost $20 annually. A $5 per month late fee will be assessed for every 30 days the alarm permit fee is not paid in full.

Q: How long is my permit good for?

A: Alarm permits expire 12 months from the date of application. A renewal letter will be e-mailed approximately 30 days before the expirations date with instructions on how to renew an alarm permit.

Q: What do I do if I need to make changes, or cancel my alarm permit?

A: To make any changes or cancel an alarm permit simply log into SMARTgov and update the information. Follow the same process to cancel an alarm permit.

Q: Does my alarm permit transfer if I move to a new house?

A: No. Alarm permits are non-transferable and non-refundable. You will need to apply for a new alarm permit for the new residence.

Q: What happens if I don’t get an alarm permit and the police are called to my property?

A: If the police are called to your property and no alarm permit is on file, a Failure to Permit Fee, in addition to the false alarm will be mailed to your property or emailed within 30 days. Failure to permit/pay the assessment will lead to further civil penalties.

Q: I have additional questions about alarm permits, who do I contact?

A: Any additional questions can be e-mailed to alarm@maricopa-az.gov. Your e-mail will be returned within two-three business days.

Q: What is a false alarm?

A: City of Maricopa ordinance 10-4 Alarm Systems defines a false alarm as the activations of an alarm system through mechanical or electronic failure, malfunction, improper installation or the negligence of the alarm user, his/her employees or agents, and signals activated to summon law enforcement personnel.

Q: What does the city hope to accomplish by enforcing the false alarm ordinance?

A: The City and the Police Departments goal is to reduce the number of false alarms that occur in the City of Maricopa, allowing the police department to use their resources more effectively.

Q: Are false alarms that big of a problem?

A: Yes! Approximately 95 percent of all alarm calls are found to be false. This amounts to hundreds of hours spent responding to false alarms by police officers.

Q: I received a false alarm letter, what do I do next?

A: If your alarm was a true false alarm, follow the instructions on the letter to pay the false alarm fee, or complete the online alarm user awareness class. If you believe you were charged a false alarm fee erroneously, follow the steps to appeal the false alarm.

Q: What is alarm user awareness class?

A: False alarm school is an easy power point presentation that give great tips on how to prevent false alarms. This can only be taken once every 12 months, and it waives only one false alarm fee for that permit year, up to $75.00.

Q: How do I appeal a false alarm charge?

A: All appeals must be submitted in writing within 10 days of the letter. You will receive a written response within 30 days from the date of appeal with the outcome. The appeals form and further instructions can be found here.

Q: What happens if I have multiple false alarms in one year?

A: Each false alarm is charged a separate fee, and payment is due within 30 days of the false alarm letter. The police department will cease responding to alarm calls at a property after eight (8) false alarm calls within a 12 month period; with the exception of duress, holdup, robbery, and panic alarms.

Q: I have additional questions about false alarms, who do I contact?

A: Any additional questions can be e-mailed to alarm@maricopa-az.gov. Your e-mail will be returned within two – three business days.

 

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City Manager Rick Horst leads a discussion of Maricopa's goals. Photo by Jim Headley

Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)
1. Expedite removal of Maricopa from the FEMA 100-year flood plain.
2. Public/private utilities infrastructure of the city ensures that economic development remains robust and citizens are served in the best and most reliable way.
3. Encourage development of industrial and business parks to enhance employment opportunities and bolster the local economy.
4. Creative placemaking and event tourism – creating a destination city.
5. Evaluate annexation of land to accommodate the city’s projected growth and economic prosperity.

At a city council retreat on Wednesday, Maricopa City Manager Rick Horst recommend the city and Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) combine offices because they essentially have the same mission – promoting Maricopa.

“Their website and our website are two different websites with the same information,” Horst said. “We are paying for and managing two separate websites. I’m not sure that make sense. We are all invested in the same plan. They could act as a business facilitator for us.”

He said MEDA often has different conversations with individual builders, developers and investors that the city doesn’t, because MEDA can keep information more confidential, while the city may not be able to.

“Why don’t they (MEDA) have a larger presence,” he said. “They should be front and center as a partner organization with the city of Maricopa. We are a partner of MEDA and we’re tied at the hip. Their strategies and solutions really shouldn’t be different than ours. There is value from them that we can receive that we are not yet receiving.”

The city has been discussing the 500-acre Estrella Gin Industrial Park. Horst suggested the construction of a 10,000 to 12,000 square foot spec building and including MEDA in that new building.

“I think MEDA needs a home,” he said. “It needs a place where citizens can come in. It says Maricopa EDA, not MEDA. With a presence, so people can come in and know where they can go.”

He said staffing would be a problem if MEDA were to open an official office. His solution is to combine the city economic development office and MEDA into the same location, so they could help each other. The combined office would only be a small part of the larger spec building.

“I think we would save money,” he said, “because of the redundancy. We don’t need separate marketing programs. We don’t need two separate websites. Look at theirs, look at ours, I dare you to find anything different in them. They should help us achieve our objectives and our projects. I think they could help us with the flood plain issue. At the end of the day, we are going to have to pay for it. Who better than they can help us get the financial support. Those are my thoughts on MEDA. To take a great organization and raise it to a new level by combining forces.”

Horst’s seven-hour workshop on Wednesday focused on the city’s 2040 Vision Plan, “which is the foundation of any long-range plan, is aspirational in nature and articulates the desired future state of the community,” according to the presentation.

The 2040 plan is intended to inspire the stakeholders in the community to have a common goal in the success of Maricopa.

Horst explained the city strategic plan, a two-year program “designed to provide a higher strategic direction that will give the community a better sense of where the city is heading.”

He spoke about how to execute the plan, sustain the city’s mission, government efficiency and the identification of the city’s Wildly Important Goals (WIGS).

His lists of WIGS were:

Expedite removal of Maricopa from the FEMA 100-year flood plain.
Public/private utilities infrastructure of the city ensures that economic development remains robust and citizens are served in the best and most reliable way.
Encourage development of industrial and business parks to enhance employment opportunities and bolster the local economy.
Creative placemaking and event tourism – creating a destination city.
Evaluate annexation of land to accommodate the city’s projected growth and economic prosperity.

Horst also spoke about changes and eliminations of city boards which are no longer needed. He recommended eliminating the Non Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. All three committees have not met for quite a while and the Veteran’s committee doesn’t have the expertise necessary to assist Veterans while other community services are available to better assist them, according to Horst.

He proposed re-purposing the Parks, Recreation and Library Advisory Committee into the Community Services Advisory Board. He also recommended combining Cultural Affairs, Event Tourism, Age-Friendly Maricopa and Arts commissions into the newly established Community Services Advisory Board.

He recommended making the Community Services Advisory Board a nine-person board appointed by city council. He also recommended sub-committees under the board.

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The transportation plan looks at current and proposed lighted intersections.

The final edition of the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan (ATP) debuted Tuesday night at a city council work session.

The report, compiled by Wilson and Company of Phoenix with a price tag of $75,000, examines the transportation needs of Maricopa, both now and into the future. Most of the burden of the study’s cost was paid for by Maricopa Associations of Governments (MAG) through the Arizona Department of Transportation and the additional $30,000 was credited as staff work by the city of Maricopa.

The study examined the transportation needs inside the city. The final report will be submitted to the city council for approval on Feb. 19.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson and Company, told the council members Tuesday the study’s purpose was to provide guidance for the connectivity of collector and local facilities to the arterial and parkway facilities identified in the ATP, develop Access Management Guidelines for use by city staff and initial efforts focus on incorporated area for proof of concept before expanding to entire planning area.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson and Company. Photo by Jim Headley

Moran said the anticipated needs of traffic signals in the city should remain at the half-mile and mile intervals that is currently being practiced. There are a few exceptions to those needs as traffic patterns dictate, she said.

Moran also presented the Transit Demand Study prepared by her company.

Moran told the council members Tuesday the study’s purpose was to identify potential transit service enhancements, to address existing and future needs of residents and visitors, to improve current services, to expand services within the city, address regional connectivity needs and anticipate influence of changing technologies.

During her presentation, Moran said current regional service needs, in order of importance, are to Chandler, then Tempe, Ahwatukee/South Phoenix and Casa Grande. She said projected needs in 2040 will remain the same but their order of importance should change to Chandler, Casa Grande, Tempe and Ahwatukee/South Phoenix.

She proposed a new route to someday take people to Tempe and Sky Harbor Airport.

Both the Transit Demand Study and the Area Transportation Plan will be presented to the city council for approval on Feb. 19.

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Transportation planner David Maestas with a COMET van. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson.

When the City of Maricopa formally unveiled its bus-stop shelters in October, there was a jump in ridership within a couple of days.

“Attribute that to recognition that, yes, there is a transit system,” Transportation Planner David Maestas said.

In fact, City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) has been around in one form or another since 2008. That it continues to lie below the awareness level of many Maricopans is a source of frustration and repeated questions about the operation of at least one aspect of the service.

By the transportation department’s numbers, COMET had a ridership (individual boardings) of 7,344 during fiscal year 2017-18. That was an increase of 14.5 percent from the previous year.  The projection for 2018-19 is 8,665, a continuation of a four-year increase.

Those are budget numbers. The last time the city delivered a head count of “unique passengers” rather than boardings was FY 2015-16, when that number was 1,713.

On the ground, the regional demand-response service (dial-a-ride) averages 8.6 riders per trip to medical offices in Chandler or Casa Grande.

The 2018-19 budget for COMET is $354,000. The local share of that was $129,000 while federal grants pick up the bill for the rest. The projected number of trips to be taken during the same fiscal year is 8,665, making the per-trip cost to the City more than $14.84. Overall, the cost per-ride is $40.85.

For riders, the cost of local demand-response is $1 per one-way trip. For regional demand-response, it is $3 per round trip. For the local fixed route, which is the service that uses the new bus-stop shelters, the fare is 50 cents per boarding.

By comparison, in the tri-city area of Prescott a nonprofit operates the Yavapai Regional Transit that started as a municipal service in 2008. It is primarily comprised of three fixed routes. A one-way fare is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors, disabled and kids. The curb-to-curb, demand-response service is for seniors and individuals with mobility disabilities at a fare of $1; anyone else pays $5.

In Maricopa, the demand-response is “the least effective mode of transportation that we’ve got,” Maestas said. “It’s probably the worst of our services when it comes to availability.”

However, he said, an important reason the City continues to operate demand-response “is to make sure that we have viable transportation for seniors. It is [a Federal Transportation Administration] requirement that we have to continue operating a dial-a-ride to serve the complementary transit.”

Two statements Maestas has repeated frequently are “we are growing COMET slowly and carefully” and “COMET was never meant to be self-sustaining.”

For 2019-20, the requested budget is planned at $440,000, with the local amount due to be $169,000.

The route-deviation service (fixed route) runs empty loops through the city some days. Getting more Maricopans aware of the service is one challenge; making them aware they need the service is another.

“It takes people to change their habits,” said Chris Hager, director of TotalRide’s transit operations.

The City contracts with TotalRide to run the COMET system. Hager said it is “probably the smallest” system his company operates, but it is just as important as systems in Phoenix, Avondale and Tucson.

“We are very much in the process of increasing ridership primarily on the route-deviation service,” Maestas said. “That’s a careful process that’s best done slowly.

“What happens is when you start a brand-new service and choose to fund it very generously, you’ve got a huge amount of expense chasing new riders that in many cases don’t even know there’s a transit system in place,” he said. “When you’re just getting started up, you have no bus shelters, you have no bus-stop signs, you may not even have bus stops identified. It’s a process of the ridership recognizing that the transit system is in place and choosing to try it.”

Unlike the demand-response service, which picks up riders at a reserved time and place, the route-deviation service has 11 specific stops, some now with bus-stop shelters. The vehicles run from Fry’s to Bashas’, Pinal County Public Health Clinic and the Maricopa Public Library, Legacy Traditional School, Central Arizona College, Walmart, Harrah’s Ak-Chin and UltraStar, Copper Sky, Sun Life Health Center, Maricopa Meadows Park and Sun Life Women’s Center.

“It is our vision to provide route-deviation service full-time, seven days a week, with council approval, including shuttles to connect communities to the central routes,” Maestas said. As far as ridership-vs.-cost, “we’re still in the process of growing ridership to make sure we can sustain it.”

While TotalRide wants to connect more of the demand-response riders to the route-deviation system, dial-a-ride is still necessary, even if fares need to be adjusted in the future.

Hager said the purpose is to provide “a safe transit system people can depend on. You can’t put a cost on a transit system that gets people to medical appointments. If it’s my mother or grandmother, I don’t care if they charge $50 or $100, as long as she’s safe because she can’t drive.”

 


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

A core group of Maricopa businesses has signed up for the city’s new Business Registry, eliminating the old business licensing process. These businesses signed up from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 at Maricopa-az.gov/web/Business-Registry.

Accounting: Accounting Advocate, The Affordable Accounting Firm, Trafelet Accounting

Arts & Crafts: ArtiSands, Diane F. Hebert, Red Nebula Studios, Stormwind’s Creations

Automotive: Big O Tires, KB Glass Repair, Knight Towing, Maricopa Auto Glass, Mel’s Auto/NAPA Auto, Moehr Tinting, T&R Roadside Services, A&E Auto Glass

Childcare/Preschool: Cara’s Kids Preschool, Child Care by Tammy Houser, Little Charmers Preschool/Childcare, Nana’s House of Childcare, Tiny Feet Preschool

Chiropractic: A-1 Health and Wellness, New Conversations – Joanne Siebert

Churches: Community of Hope, World Outreach & Bible Training Center

Cleaning: 1st Glass Window Cleaners, JD & Son Carpet Cleaning

Cosmetics: Ana’s Creations, Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay, Marisa McDonald Independent Beauty Guide Limelife

Computers: Gemini Mapping, North Suburban Office Services, Ungatech LLC

Dental: Oasis Oral and Facial Surgery, Treasured Smiles Children’s Dentistry

Entertainment: Eagle Entertainment, Gabriel Magno Entertainment, Twisted Vision Racing

Food Service: Aliberto’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Dinner at Your Door, Kona Ice, Li’s Garden, N2Frybread, Pizza Hut, Plaza Bonita Family Mexican Restaurant, Sonora Hotdogs, Tastee Pak, WingStop

General Contractor: AAM Plumbing Services, Carpenter Guitar and Ampworks, Negev Design-Build, Rockridge Construction, Solcius LLC, Zomark Construction

Handyman: Bradley Goering Maintenance, Maricopa Pool & Spa Services, Rent-A-Vet Services

Health: Fit N-Motion, Healthy Habits with Brittany Holistic Mental Health, Many Healing Hands, Maricopa Eye Care, Maricopa Foot and Ankle Center, Massage Me, Sun Life Family Health Center, Sun Life Pharmacy, Maricopa Veteran Care Center, Vitamins4Vitality

Home Interior/Exterior Design: Café Design & Architecture, Dawn2Dusk Sun Screens, Southwest Landscaping

Home/Office Repair: 911 Air Repair, Felix Appliance Repair, Mr Appliance of Maricopa

Insurance: American Family Insurance – Chris Cahall, State Farm Insurance – Courtny Tyler, WFG Maricopa – Bill Boone

Jewelry Sales: DC Enterprises, Rikki Sparkles with Origami Owl

Law Firms: Law Office of Jack Pritt

Manufacturing: Pazii Cigars

Marketing: Actually Social, Impact Video Cards, Social Baboon, Thomas Promo Products

Martial Arts: Desert Tiger Martial Arts, Sunrise Taekwondo/ATA Martial Arts and Karate

Nonprofits: American Legion Post, Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics, F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank, Zion Foundation

Painting: ACP Painting, Arvin’s Painting, Chris’ Quality House Painting

Party Rentals: Boodle Bouncers

Pest Control: Maricopa Bug Busters

Pet Services: Buddy’s Pet Care, Michelle’s Professional Pet Grooming, Romp and Roam Pet & Home Sitting

Photographers: News of Maricopa, Sunshine & Reign Photography, Yvette Lincoln Photography

Printing: Howard Industries, VinylWorks

Real Estate: 5X Gusse Properties, Comfort Realty, Costa Verde Homes, Duke Plaza Shopping Center, East Family Trust, Guardian Mortgage, HomeSmart Success, Pat Lairson Realtor, So EZ Mortgage, Sunbelt Home Watch, Tena Dugan – Berkshire Hathaway Homeservice

Retail: Adobe Blinds and More, Arizona Law Dawgs, Black Wolf Industries, CVS/Pharmacy, Fizz Envy, FS Artistic Concepts, Gatten’s Honey Farm, Go Wireless, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, Joia Gift Baskets, Kameo Monson, M and D Signs & Designs, Maricopa Shooting Service, Maricopa Solar Window Screens, QuikTrip, Skelys Tees and Moore, True Hearts II

Salons: Hair Focus, Massage Life

Services: AZ Legal Mobile Doc, ITranslateSpanish.com, Juniper Personal & Professional Development, Medical Coding Instruction, Movin Maricopa, Pioneer Title Agency, ProCopy Office Solutions, Guardian Transport, Recycle Today Maricopa, Trophies Plus, TRR Consulting, True Justice, Tupperware – the Fanatics, UPS Store, Women of the Breakthrough


This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

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Maricopa Ace Hardware owner Mike Richey (center) shares a laugh during the Senior Expo at CAC. Photo by Jim Headley

The fourth annual Senior Expo set an attendance record Saturday as 350 people participated.

Counting vendors and volunteers, about 475 people participated in the community event. The Expo offered classes, free blood pressure and hearing tests as well as two rooms full of vendors at Central Arizona College in Maricopa.

Saturday morning started with a free Danish or a muffin and a cup of coffee to all attendees then it was off to visit the many vendors booth for advice and free items ranging from candy, first aid kits, cell phone powered cooling fans, hot /cold packs to even fidget spinners.

Classes began at 10:30 and lasted throughout the day and free pizza was served at noon.

Peg Chapados, event coordinator of the Senior Expo, has organized all four years of the event. She was a member of city council for six years before retiring in December. She was also vice mayor when leaving city council.

“I actually brought this to the city through Maricopa Seniors, which is a nonprofit that I am also involved in,” she said. “We said, ‘What if we had an event where we could put the resources directly into the hand of the people that need them.’ We could also offer some workshops.”

Chapados said she approached the city’s Age-Friendly Committee with the idea, and it took off.

“It has turned into this in four years,” she said, “We don’t have a lot of brick-and-mortar buildings here in Maricopa. It is nice to be able to bring the end user to one spot and have them have access to resources, organizations, volunteers, services and whatever.”

Chapados said the city’s estimates between 4,500 and 6,000 of the 52,000 residents of the city are seniors.

“We are starting to see an increase in our winter visitor population too and a lot of them are seniors,” she said.

Chapados added that the brisk number of seniors attending the event was completely anticipated.She said about 200 people pre-registered online before the event.

“We are hoping to reach as many people as we can today,” she said. “Next year – well my stint with the city is done so I’m not sure what next year is going to bring. We will see. This is a great event for the Age-Friendly Committee for the City of Maricopa, for all our exhibitors and all of our residents. I am hoping that they continue with it.”

She said Central Arizona College was generous to allow the event to take place on its campus as the Expo has outgrown City Hall where it has previously taken place.

“We have some great sponsors that bring this thing together,” she said.

Toward the end of the day, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-District 1) made an appearance at the event. He stopped to chat with vendors and attendees and allowed photographs to be taken with him.

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Fee changes for the use of Copper Sky received the OK from city council Tuesday.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council unanimously approved a resolution that will change fees at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center at their regularly scheduled meeting.

The new fees will impact the use of day passes while promoting six-month and annual memberships in an effort to make Copper Sky more sustainable and offer more services to citizens.

“While we probably didn’t please absolutely everybody, I think we generally reached a consensus,” Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot said of conversations with city committees. “For the most part, we have some support for these schedules.”

With all the changes in membership costs, the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount but can get further discounts based on income levels. If seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. The application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her earlier concerns over the fee changes were centered on the senior rates.

“I felt so strongly about this concern, that I wanted you to have lots of people to talk to,” she told Ullyot. She thanked Ullyot for presenting the information in many settings, including city committees. Smith also said senior advocate Joan Koczor was a vital part of getting the word out and starting strong communication between residents and City Hall.

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

The Council also heard a presentation by Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development, on plans for an 18-acre development around Copper Sky that will include La Quinta Hotel, 620 units of multifamily housing, a 172-unit Morning Star Assisted Living Center and 53,000 square feet of new retail space.

Airheart unveiled the $146-million plan at the Jan. 9 special meeting between the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) and Maricopa City Council.

Photo by Jim Headley

Ever see a Zephyr fly? Thursday, one actually did in Maricopa.

Maricopa’s vintage California Zephyr streamline passenger car was moved down Casa Grande-Maricopa Highway to make room for the new State Route 347 overpass in the center of the city.

GoPro footage:

Shortly after 10 a.m., two large cranes carefully picked up the Zephyr and gently placed it onto a large semitrailer. It was chained down and driven about three blocks down the highway. Again, the cranes picked it up and placed it on its new rails, beside the former Rotary swimming pool.

The Maricopa Historical Society purchased the Zephyr from Pinal County for the sum of $1.

“They were interested in cooperating with us, the City and ADOT, so that this could be put here and be a community centerpiece going forward,” said Paul Shirk, president of the Society.

Funds for moving the Zephyr came from county funds garnered through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s purchase of the property where the railcar previously sat.

“Because of the overpass, we had to move the Zephyr,” Shirk said. “The county was the owner of the Zephyr at that time, so they put that fund up, so the citizens of Maricopa did not have to incur any expense to do this. Now we’re working with the City, and with the generous contribution of the land by John and Marylou Smith, the City can have a park here and we can have a place for the Zephyr.”

Moving a large train car might be a stressful operation, but Shirk disagreed.

“It was a blast. There is no tense, this is just fun.  Too many people say history is boring. Too much memorizing names and dates. We don’t do that. We tell a story in a fun way. Our meeting is every first Monday of the month over at the library. We spend a little time on business and then spend an hour-and-a-half on fun,” he said, adding, “We have a lot of history to tell.”

Shirk, who was a little teary-eyed when the car was lifted off its rails, said he arrived for the move at 5 a.m. and city personnel had everything organized and in place for the 10 a.m. move under Mike Riggs’ leadership.

“Everything just went according to plan. It just clicked,” Shirk said.

Riggs, assistant director of public works for Maricopa, has been putting together the Zephyr’s move over the past 30 days. He said the entire move went without a problem.

“It’s been a great experience,” Riggs said. “It’s great how the City all participated –  the police department and all the divisions jumped in to help. It has been an awesome 30 days.”

Riggs said the crane company that moved the Zephyr, Southwest Industrial Rigging, also moved it to Maricopa in 2001 and will “swing the bridge girders into place over the highway this weekend.”

Friday and Saturday night, the highway will be closed in that section from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the installation of the bridge girders.

“It was imperative that we move the Zephyr today,” Riggs said. “We have a great spot for the Zephyr to sit now for years to come.”

Mayor Christian Price said watching the Zephyr fly was truly an event.

“It was amazing to see it come off the track where it’s been sitting for the past decade plus,” said Price. “It was amazing to watch them thread the needle with that train between the two cranes.”

Price said Maricopa has great things ahead as the overpass takes shape to ease transportation.

“We have been working so hard for the past decade on trying to get through the recession and put things in place that will allow for quality of life. Now we are entering the next phase. That next phase is the explosion of Maricopa, from the standpoint of businesses, commercial and retail. That is what we are working towards,” Price said.

In its new home, near Maricopa Veterans Center, the Zephyr will “be a mainstay that represents Maricopa is welcoming to the community and to people who are visiting. We are going to welcome newcomers in and we’re going to make sure that we have a lot of good events for the people who live here,” Shirk said.

Mike Kemery of Maricopa’s VFW post was among veterans who turned out to watch the railcar move next door. He said the historical society was making its future parking around the Zephyr available to veterans for special events.

Rick Horst, Maricopa city manager, said moving the Zephyr in a safe and organized fashion represents the entire community’s structure.

“Many communities are so divided on so many issues. You just don’t sense that here,” Horst said. “That’s what makes this place feel like home. The future is whatever we want it to be. Our goal is to make sure we create a place where everyone can be successful, whether it is a single parent, a family, a business, a nonprofit, the educational system – whatever it is we want to create the environment that the true values of hard work will pay off in this community.”

Christian Price (submitted photo)

The 2019 Legislative session begins on Jan. 14, and our newly elected legislators will join their incumbent colleagues to begin the hard and critically important work of representing their constituents in the Arizona House and Senate. And the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is ready to help.

The League exists to promote local self-government and municipal independence and this mission has never been more important in the State of Arizona than it is today.

Our primary focus is to represent the interests of cities and towns before the Arizona Legislature, and to strengthen the quality of life and common good of all citizens of Arizona municipalities. We do this through advocacy of legislative and administrative policy that help to make our municipalities more efficient and responsive to our citizens’ needs, and also through review of any policy proposals that could be counter to these goals. When appropriate we seek effective compromise.

Whether elected at the local or state level, we all are bound by our common desire and duty to do what is right for all Arizonans, and it is this shared value that should bring us together to work for the benefit of every citizen that we collectively represent.

As president of the Arizona League, I join with our 25-member Executive Committee and all member cities and towns across our state, to work with our colleagues at the state legislature to find common ground in good policy-making and to ensure that the best interests of our cities and towns are represented.  Together, we can continue to build an even better Arizona – a state that we all love and revere.


Christian Price is the president of League of Arizona Cities and Towns and the mayor of Maricopa.

Photo by Dean Crandall

The City of Maricopa wants to make Copper Sky Multigenerational Center 75 percent self-sufficient. Currently, it is at 65 percent sustainability.

Nathan Ullyot, Maricopa’s director of Community Services, explained a proposed fee change for Copper Sky to the media Tuesday. Ullyot said there has been a lot of discussion, mostly on social media, about the city’s proposed fee changes that will be presented to the city council later this month.

“What is getting missed in all this is the opportunity that we are providing for everybody. There is a lot of focus around senior pricing,” Ullyot said. “There are some really nice changes for families or folks who decide to get a membership to Copper Sky.”

Ullyot said the new fee schedule will allow flexibility for members and provide the city a more sustainable facility.

With all the changes in membership costs, Ullyot said the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount, according to Ullyot. He said they can get further discounts based on scholarships that are also available.

“Folks who are at need or in need can have a scholarship opportunity to Copper Sky and receive a 20 or 40 percent discount,” he said, adding the scholarships are based on federal poverty level guidelines.

He said if seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

“This was done when they opened, and they haven’t changed it. There was no policy to guide that. This policy changes that. The seniors get an automatic 10 percent along with veterans. They can combine that with a scholarship,” he said.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. He said the application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

“We are also looking at making sure our Copper Sky programs have an improved value,” he said. “The reality is our annual members will see no increase. There will be no change in their membership. The big changes will be for those going month to month. We are trying to push them to go to six months or annual. There is also an increase to our day passes.”

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes, according to Ullyot. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Ullyot said Copper Sky has maintained its budget numbers in recent years but increasing costs, like the increase in minimum wage, is impacting the center’s bottom line.

“We have maintained for the last four years. This has been on the minds of the council going forward. How do we hit a better sustainability model? … For a family we want to be the best fit financially and quality-wise,” Ullyot said.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

Ullyot said some seniors are upset about the new fee structures.

“We’re getting some heat from folks who aren’t (members) or some folks who took advantage of day passes,” Ullyot said. “They are losing some of that flexibility. We’re trying to drive them towards membership. We didn’t explain some of the senior impact upfront. After we talked about it – it makes a lot of sense. If people can afford, they do. If they can’t then there is help.”

Ullyot said a lot of seniors want a space solely dedicated to them, but that is difficult because Copper Sky just doesn’t have the room. He said they are planning to increase services for seniors.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough for seniors in Copper Sky. We are working to identify a couple days a week where we can do some senior fellowship programs. Provide coffee and doughnuts and things like that. We are looking for feedback from seniors on things they want to do,” he said.

Another thing that will change at Copper Sky will be rental fees that are equivalent to a sports complex level, not a community park level.

“When it comes to turf and fields Copper Sky is maintained at a sports complex level. Which is going to mean more mowing, overseeing timelines and things like that. It is designed to attract outside tournaments to come into town,” Ullyot said.

Fields at Picana Park will remain at their current price point while Copper Sky fields will increase in rental costs to support “that level of care.”

Ullyot said in the past rental fees at Copper Sky didn’t always cover costs incurred by the city for the event to take place, such as wages for lifeguards.

“We actually lost money. We didn’t charge enough for the amount of lifeguards it takes and the space that was being given. It was very difficult with a private rental, so it wasn’t cost effective,” he said.

Sacate is moving its mill from Laveen to Maricopa. Phot oby Kyle Norby

Sacate Pellet Mills Inc. is relocating its main pellet processing plant to Maricopa.

Sacate, now located in Laveen in southwest Phoenix, has been forced to move due to major road construction, the 202-connection project. The main problem in Laveen, where Sacate employs 75 people, is encroaching housing and traffic congestion.

The new Maricopa facility, which is being built in phases, will employ about eight workers at the completion of phase 1 but is expected to eventually grow to exceed 75 employees, according to a Project Narrative presented to the Maricopa City Council that was written by Olsson and Associates of St. Louis, Missouri.

David Stueve, general manager of Sacate, said the new mill project in Maricopa should be completed by June.

The new facility will be used to process a standard 4-by-4-by-8-foot hay bale, which will produce 3/8-inch diameter by 1.5-inch pellets. The hay pellets will be wholesaled to multiple local businesses and retailers.

The plant, located on about 50 acres southeast of Maricopa, near the intersection of Cowtown Road and White and Parker Road, is expected to operate 24 hours per day, according to the Olsson report. The proposed location will house a feed pellet milling operation and office.

The report states: “The work will adhere to Zoning Code … and will occur in three phases. Phase 1 will include grading of the parcel to ensure proper on-site drainage and retention, construction of one fire access road, building of the warehouse, hay canopy, and electrical building. Phase 1 will also see the construction of a security fence and gate to restrict site access and the installation of truck scales. Phase 2 will include an extension to the warehouse and erection of cubing system equipment to the north of the hay canopy. Phase 3 will see the building of an open bale processing canopy and office building with associated parking and sidewalks.”

Sacate is highly respected for producing some of the best quality livestock pellets in the Agriculture industry. The company first produced pellets in 1985.

“This helps Maricopa become a more viable option for new industry and businesses looking to expand.” — Denyse Airheart

The City of Maricopa has ballooned from a tiny town into a the 18th largest city in Arizona in less than 20 years.

In 2018, estimates approved by the U.S. Census Bureau and Arizona State Demographer’s Office put Maricopa’s population at 51,977, pushing the city over the 50,000-mark for the first time.

“What this means for Maricopa is that we have shown consistent, sustained growth in the city and will no longer be seen as a rural community,” said Denyse Airheart, Maricopa Economic Development director. “This helps Maricopa become a more viable option for new industry and businesses looking to expand.”

In 2016, the City paid more than $700,000 for a special census in hopes of proving its population had reached the 50,000 mark, but that census officially found only 46,903.

Still, that was a 2,873 percent increase over the 2000 Census, according to a city website. Maricopa was incorporated as the 88th city in Arizona on Oct. 15, 2003.

Official census records indicate just 1,040 residents lived in the area in 2000.

“There was a time when our city’s growth was a reflection of less expensive housing opportunities, but now it’s due to the increased quality of life,” City Manager Rick Horst said. “With expanded access to higher education, healthy living and entertainment opportunities, our planning teams and building partners have cultivated a thriving city that a growing number of people want to be a part of.”

The City of Maricopa is approximately 43 square miles with a planning area of 233 square miles.

The average household income in Maricopa is $75,000, among the highest in the state of Arizona.

Approximately 88 percent of adult residents have some post-high school education and 47 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree.

Maricopa is the second most populous incorporated city in Pinal County, behind Casa Grande estimated to be 55,477, and Maricopa is the 18th most populous city in Arizona.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the city to reach this 50,000-resident milestone,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said Monday. “We look forward to the new opportunities that will come from this growth and we are excited for the continued economic development of our community.”

 

At the State of the City event in October, Mayor Christian Price announced changes in the business license process for the City of Maricopa.

That amounts to eliminating business licensing and creating instead a business registry.

Nov. 6, staff detailed how a registry would work. The process is set to go into effect Jan. 1.

“We believe that good, business-friendly regulations, while ensuring public safety and strong customer protections, just make good business sense,” Price said.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the state’s transaction privilege tax process now makes city licensing redundant. The registry, she said will allow City Hall to track the types of businesses in town.

“This is a voluntary program,” she said.

The Business Registry Program will be an online process. Instead of $50 for a business license, companies can register for $10 annually. The BRP will not eliminate the necessity of permits and zoning.

Information asked on the one-page, online Business Registry Program:

New or existing business
VA or Nonprofit
Full name of business owner/representative
Primary phone
Primary email address
Business name/DBA
Physical address of business
Business sector
Description of business
Transaction Privilege Tax identification number
Acknowledge legal disclaimer

“The goal is to make conducting business in the City of Maricopa as easy and simple as possible,” Airheart said. “So the businesses and entrepreneurs of the community drive innovation, and we want to make sure their experience here is a positive experience.”

The current system captures “a ton of data,” she said. “It’s very deceiving but it’s multiple pages with multiple attachments, and it could be a little bit frustrating for individuals.”

The hope is that the new BRP will make the process as simple as possible for the business owner while still capturing key information for City Hall.

Price called it, “User-friendly, less expensive and much faster.”

Nonprofits and veteran-owned business are exempted from the $10 annual fee.

When questioned about the verification process for businesses claiming to be veteran-owned or nonprofit, City Manager Rick Horst said, “We’ll take them at their word… Frankly, if they’re not honest, it’s going to catch up with them sooner or later.”

In December, the City will notify active and inactive business license holders about the change. It will also be notifying chambers of commerce and business-resource groups.

“One of the biggest things we’ve heard from the local businesses is ‘Marketing, marketing, marketing. How can people find out about me?’” Airheart said. “This is going to be a great way. If we know about you, we can be a great tool to get your information out to the public because this is going to be accessible to everyone.”

While business licensing is no longer deemed necessary, it did provide information the city still needs, such as “accurate revenue projections for budget preparation,” Price said. The registry is expected to provide that kind of information.

He said the City should expect speed bumps with any new process and has asked staff to report back a year after launch to discuss what does and does not work.



This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Dean Crandall

 

As Copper Sky looks for more revenue streams, a proposal to change rates and fees is before the public. Maricopa City Council approved the policy in November and is scheduled to vote on the fee changes Jan. 15.

Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot called them “significant changes.”

The shifts in the proposal are meant to herd members toward an annual membership, which will be less expensive, especially for couples. The proposal does not include monthly rates but increases the six-month membership fees for couples and families and increases for daily punch passes.

“We’re really looking to add value to your Copper Sky membership,” Ullyot said.

A point of contention has been the change for senior citizens. Under the current rates, single seniors and senior couples pay 40 percent less than the adult fees. But senior rates are excluded in the proposal. The new fee schedule puts them level with military veterans, which is a 10-percent discount.

City Councilmember Nancy Smith, expressing concern for retirees on limited incomes during the November meeting, encouraged seniors to offer feedback about the proposal. Joan Koczor of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee also reached out to constituents on her senior-activity newsletter urging seniors to get involved.

Copper Sky Resident Memberships

Monthly                              1 Adult                 2 Adults               Family
Current                                      $35                        $55                        $65
Proposed                                   N/A                       N/A                       N/A

Six months                        1 Adult                 2 Adults               Family
Current                                   $180                       $280                       $420
Proposed                                $210                       $336                        $420
($35/mo)              ($56/mo)               ($70/mo)

Yearly                                 1 Adult                 2 Adults               Family
Current                                  $338                       $540                       $676
Proposed                               $336                       $504                       $672
($28/mo)              ($42/mo)               ($56/mo)

However, unlike the current schedule, a department proposal would allow scholarships for membership fees. The scholarship is based on federal income guidelines. Those who provide proof of income at 100 percent the poverty level (one person $12,140) could get another 30-percent discount along with the standard senior discount of 10 percent. Those at 200 percent the poverty level can receive 15 percent off.

Proposed Discounts
Veterans/Seniors            10%
Youth/Students               50%
Group                                 1-10%
Corporate                          1-50%

According to city numbers, more than 1,400 of the 1,800 senior memberships are paid for through programs like Silver Sneakers, Optum and Silver and Fit. Some insurance companies are changing their funding of those programs or even switching programs.

Ullyot will discuss some of the proposed solutions for senior memberships with the Age-Friendly Committee at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The proposed fee schedule was post Oct. 31, and residents are asked to respond within 60 days of that date.

Punch Passes and Daily Rates

20 punches                        Adult     Youth   Senior
Current                                   $50        $38        $40
Proposed                                $150      $75        $120

Day Pass                              Adult     Youth   Senior
Current                                    $5           $3           $4
Proposed                                 $10         $5           $8



This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

The Peed property was once envisioned as a site for City Hall. Now it sits without infrastructure and is used to store asphalt. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

From State Route 238 to Stanfield, the City of Maricopa owns a wide array of land parcels. Since 2004, the City has acquired about $143 million in property.

While there are parks, public buildings, streets, rights of way and other uses on much of the property, City Hall has some parcels listed simply as “miscellaneous,” and there are still undeveloped acres. The City has plans for some parcels, but others will sit empty for the foreseeable future.

“We are doing the city an injustice by not developing these properties,” Councilwoman Julia Gusse said. “Our predecessors did a great job of securing these properties for future development and growth; it’s time we put them to good use.”

One of the longest-held properties has been the most divisive and the least likely to be developed any time soon.

PEED PROPERTY

Called the Peed property and noted as miscellaneous, the 11-acre parcel on SR 238 cost the city $1.2 million in 2006.

“It has no water; it has no utilities,” Councilmember Marvin Brown said. “The city bought it because a former council member pushed the former council to do so.”

The property initially was brought to the council as 150 acres for a possible location of a city hall. At the time, the council was set to spend $14.6 million for it. Steve Baker, then-councilmember, was a real estate agent representing property owner Dennis Peed. While Baker recused himself from votes on the matter, it was a relationship that vexed residents and other Realtors.

After months of debate in 2006, the City ended up buying only the southern portion of the property abutting SR 238. Its continued lack of infrastructure keeps it on a backburner, but some current councilmembers have ideas.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her vision of the SR 238 corridor is “something similar to the Price Road Corridor in Chandler. Basically, it would include light industrial businesses with high paying jobs.”

Vice Mayor Peg Chapados, who is leaving city council in December, said she, too, sees a major transportation corridor, “a development with elements that complement surrounding growth and that offers the benefits and accessibility of being on SR 238.”

Though there has been little recent city discussion about the Peed property, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi sees it being part of a thriving business park, though it is used as asphalt storage now. There are caveats.

“The city only owns a tiny portion of the surrounding area,” Manfredi said. “Much of the development of the Peed properly rests on the shoulders of surrounding development. Before anything can really be accomplished with the Peed property, there are some flood-zone limitations that must be corrected.

 

City Center as space for commercial and residential. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

CITY CENTER

In 2008, Maricopa acquired 129 acres off White and Parker Road for City Hall and a city center at a cost of $3 million. Five years later, the City Hall building ($14.5 million) and police station ($3.9 million) were completed, but there remain wide open spaces for development. What kind of development has been an ongoing discussion this year. Its full cash value now is $12.6 million.

Smith said her vision for city center correlates with an open house held earlier this year for public feedback. “It would include civic buildings, small businesses, diverse housing and restaurants,” she said. “It would be walkable, have open space and be a place to meet up with family and friends.”

Chapados said it should be an area “where people come to live, work, play, learn, socialize and recreate.” Manfredi said it could be something “similar to the Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix.”

Copper Sky is more than just a park but is intended for commercial development, including a hotel. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

COPPER SKY

In 2010, the City acquired part of Bowlin Plaza property that was to become Copper Sky and the police substation at Copper Sky. The cost of the five acres for the substation and 118.5 acres for the park was $6.8 million. Another $15.9 million was invested in the recreation center and aquatic center in 2014.

From the beginning, Copper Sky was seen as more than a park. A recent contract with Commercial Properties Inc. aims at commercial development on city land between the park and John Wayne Parkway, to be anchored by a hotel.

Chapados wants the area to create the “sense of place” developers have long talked about for Maricopa. “A robust combination of retail, a hotel or two, and possibly residential units that complement Copper Sky as an active, vibrant recreation and aquatic destination to be enjoyed year-round.”

Cecil Yates, property management director for CPI, told the Maricopa City Council he already had three hotel users interested. “They want to stick shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Yates said.

“I think you’ll find that at the end of the day the City will sell that land, but it will be to restaurateurs, hoteliers, residential units, shops, all those type of things,” City Manager Rick Horst said. “The public benefit will come in a lot of forms, to include the revenues needed to support Parks and Rec and Public Safety, but also lifestyle.”

Estrella Gin Business Park. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

ESTRELLA GIN BUSINESS PARK

Maricopa purchased the Estrella Gin property for $3.1 million in 2011. It has been intended for a light industrial business park. Manfredi also imagines a container park.

“This property has a lot of potential, if we can find the right developer to work with us as a city,” he said.

But it has been a struggle to bring in companies. The City ended its agreement with The Boyer Company, which produced no tenants or buildings in four years, and Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the city may have a new developer on board soon.

“My experience tells me the market gets it right about 85 percent of the time, and government gets it right about 30 percent of the time, so we have to create partnerships,” Horst said. “There’ll come a time when we don’t have to do that anymore because the market will take over.”

Chapados said she would like the business park to complement “Maricopa’s Heritage District and rich history through design function, and tenancy.” She added it “is poised to be Maricopa’s first job-center/business-park destination that also offers a place to house historically significant components, like a museum. It’s easily accessible with room to grow and lots to offer.”

Maricopa is also heavily invested in the under-construction overpass that will re-create midtown. Smith sees an interesting future coming to the Heritage District that involves Estrella Gin property.

“It would be great to have a nice, historical-looking building that serves as a train depot, café and historical museum by the railroad tracks,” she said. “Close to this building is the pedestrian overpass that allows both communities north and south of the tracks to safely cross the railroad tracks, especially for the high school students who currently cross there.”

MISCELLANEOUS

  • The area now called Pacana Park was acquired in 2006 for $1.8 million. It was 18 acres. In 2008, the City acquired 10 acres for $700,000 to expand Pacana Park to the south.
  • In 2007, the City – with its municipal fire department taking over for the Maricopa Volunteer Fire Department – purchased scattered pieces of property of 1-3 acres each for future fire stations. The stations have been built on Porter Road, Edison Road, Bowlin Road and Alterra Parkway. There remains one parcel lying well outside the city boundaries but in the middle of Maricopa’s future planning area. What is listed as the Stanfield Site is a one-acre, vacant lot on Pepper Place in Hidden Valley Estates. It was acquired for $10,000 on a quitclaim deed, costing the city nothing, and the council has started discussions of disposing of it.
  • The city acquired the building for the current Maricopa Public Library in 2009 with a sale price of $1.9 million, according to county records.
  • In 2010, Maricopa paid $3 million for a strip of land along the Santa Rosa Wash east of White and Parker Road and south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner in InMaricopa.


This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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Mayor Christian Price, dressed as Marty McFly, delivers his State of the City address Oct. 24. Photo by Kyle Norby

In his annual State of the City presentation, Mayor Christian Price offered a bold but attainable vision of the future grounded in the past. He touched on subjects important to Maricopa residents, such as transportation, growing the economy and continuing to improve the efficiency of local government.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=001pVRQ_1vw

“I believe the very best way to predict the future is simply to create it,” Price said, establishing early one of his central themes for the evening: the importance of a bold vision for Maricopa’s future.

Before the event, anticipation ran high, with a number of attendees curious about what fun plans Price had up his sleeve. His State of the City presentations have become known for his innovative and fun introductions. Last year the mayor zip-lined in, while the year before he made a video of himself in an indoor skydiving facility to make it appear as if he parachuted in.

The State of the City is funded by sponsorships.

“I have no idea what Christian is going to do, because he is a wild card, he could do anything,” said Maricopa resident Linda Huggins. “I’d just like to see where he feels the future of Maricopa is going to be.”

Hollace Lyon, Democratic candidate for the state senate seat for District One, had a suspicion that the mayor’s entrance might involve a DeLorean.

“I’m excited to see if he can fit in one, because he’s a pretty tall guy,” said Lyon, who hoped to find out more information about the progress of the overpass project in particular and economic development more broadly.

On the entertainment and transportation fronts, Price did not disappoint, indeed arriving in a DeLorean (owned by Mark Burchard) and dressed as Marty McFly with City Manager Rick Horst dressed as Doc Brown, characters from the film franchise, “Back to The Future.”

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Price discussed not only the overpass project and plans for State Route 347, but also the road’s history. He took the crowd back to 1989, when the future city of Maricopa wasn’t much more than, “a few lonesome plots of farm land.”

“Developers could foresee that the future success of Maricopa was intrinsically tied to the ability to make 347 work properly,” Price said.

Price described how a coalition of local residents, land developers, tribal and state officials came together to support the construction of SR 347. He noted the project was funded by residents of the then-unincorporated area through what was called a “special transportation district.” It passed in a high-turnout election by just 21 votes.

Price related this to Propositions 416 and 417, which put a regional transportation plan and half-cent sales tax to finance it before voters last year. Prop 417 also passed by a narrow margin, 51 percent to 49, though its implementation has been held up by a lawsuit. He said the roughly $100 million the plan is projected to raise was necessary for increasing entry and exit routes into Maricopa, in addition to other measures to decrease traffic and accidents.

“Twenty-eight years after the first major road improvement, the people of Pinal County and the City of Maricopa courageously and emphatically stated, through their slim but majority vote, that, yes, we want and we downright need a solution to this dangerous road and the gridlock it often extends to our families,” Price said.

Price discussed how partnerships were not only vital to Maricopa’s past, but also its future.

Current projections for completion of the overpass project, as presented in the State of the City.

On the business side, Price stressed the importance of cultivating relationships with a range of private and public entities. He described how these relationships helped Maricopa secure grant funding and gain support for important projects from county, state and federal government bodies.

He laid out proposed plans for the Copper Sky site, including Maricopa’s first hotel since incorporation and a number of mixed-use spaces with commercial units on the ground floors and residential ones on the second.

Price also announced the city was changing from a business licensing process to a business registry, and that form is now only a page long and can be completed online. The fee was reduced from $50 to $10, with veteran-owned businesses and nonprofits paying nothing to register.

Reactions to the speech seemed positive, with the mayor having touched on the topics the crowd had indicated they were interested in. He also highlighted some of the exciting tech companies working throughout the region, such as the electric car company Lucid Motors and Nikola Motor Co., which makes electric-hydrogen-fueled trucks.

“The mayor never ceases to amaze me,” said Rosie Kuzmic, a Maricopa resident. “He is such a cheerleader for Maricopa. He fills us in on what’s going on, where we’ve been and what we can look forward to. He doesn’t pull any punches and he’s always fun.”

Grants received special mention a number of times, with Price highlighting the benefits received in terms of school safety, first-responders and other essential city functions. He also lauded the job done by Horst, who he likened to the city’s Doc Brown and who was appointed as city manager in June. In fact, Price quoted Doc Brown in his closing remarks.

“To Doctor Brown’s credit, he really did say it best when he said, ‘our future hasn’t been written yet'” Price said. “Your future is what you make of it, so let’s make it a good one.”

To watch the full speech, visit the city’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGB4xhFiHqg&feature=youtu.be

City Manager Rick Horst dressed as Doc Brown. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Mayor Christian Price (center) along with city and college personnel cut a ribbon at the COMET bus shelter at CAC. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With five bus shelters in place, another being finished and six more planned, the City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) system is in a new phase.

Mayor Christian Price cut the ribbon on a bus stop at the Central Arizona College campus Wednesday morning.

“It’s really a great opportunity to find new ways to move people around the city,” Price said, “especially as we move into our retail areas.” He touted the wide array of residents who use the transit system, from students to seniors.

Bus shelters are also at Legacy Traditional School, which is across Regent Drive from the college, Fry’s Marketplace, Pacana Park and Copper Sky. The shelters serve the “route deviation” service of COMET, which is a specific route around the city. COMET also runs a demand response, dial-a-ride service, which picks up riders wherever they are located and takes them to wherever they need to go. There are also shuttles that take riders to Chandler and Casa Grande.

Rebekka Harris, a CAC student living in The Villages at Rancho El Dorado, said she has used COMET at times when her sister needed her car. It was not only convenient, she said, but also a chance to have a captive audience and chat someone’s ear off, “because that’s my brand.”

Though the COMET has served the CAC campus for a while, the bus stop was just a post. Now it is at the main entry with seating and shelter.

“I like the fact that there’s a bus stop here, because before I was like, ‘Where do I stand? Do I stand in the cactus; do I stand up there?'” Harris said. “So I like having this here.”

The City operates COMET under the auspices of TotalRide, so drivers like Helena Dobers are employed by both. She drove a school bus, including the summer Copper Sky route, for three years before coming on board COMET full time this year. “And it’s been beautiful,” she said.

City Transit Planner David Maestas (center) and TotalRide General Manager Chris Hager talk with COMET driver Helena Dobers.

The proposed Vista Village property (star) is almost six acres.

A developer wants to build a 100-unit apartment complex in Maricopa, and a vote by Maricopa City Council on Tuesday may spur the project.

As proposed by Englewood Group, Vista Village will be constructed on a triangular, six-acre lot north of Walmart and south of Banner Health on Porter Road. The multi-building development would include two-story and three-story buildings with a pool, laundry, fitness center and playground.

The city council approved the re-zoning of the property from light industry to general mixed use. It was not an approval of the project but allowed Englewood Group to start the development process. It would be the first apartment complex in the city.

No member of the public or city council spoke against the re-zoning at the Tuesday hearing. Planner Rodolfo Lopez said the Development Services department did not receive any public comment, either.

The rezoning was previously recommended by city staff and by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Development Services commissioned a study last year on housing needs in Maricopa. The idea of an apartment complex has been controversial in the past, with opponents saying rentals bring crime, but it has gained interest in the past year.

The Housing Needs Assessment Report from July 2017 noted that 97 percent of Maricopa’s housing is single-family homes, far above the Arizona average of 64 percent. It found a lack of “work force” housing for teachers, police, etc.

“For single people who wish to live alone, there are no housing options other than living alone in a large home,” the report stated.

The result is two or more families renting one “single-family” home.

Englewood, which has 74 properties in Arizona, Indiana and Illinois, has been eyeing Maricopa for more than a year.

Rick Horst began his new job as Maricopa city manager over the summer. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

During his first 100 days as Maricopa’s city manager, Rick Horst has worked to make City Hall more results-oriented and streamlined. There have already been changes, including a new department. Horst sat down with InMaricopa to talk about the first three months of his three-year contract.

InMaricopa: So, you’re still in the honeymoon phase.

Horst: I tell people it’s three months going on three years. As the old saying goes, drinking out of a firehose. But that’s what I enjoy. It’s been fun. It’s been educational. We’ve been able to set some things in motion. We have a lot of things on our list yet to set into motion. It’s why I’m here; it’s why I wanted to be here.

InMaricopa: As a leader, what kind of imprinting did you want to have on your employees?

Horst: I’ve never been one for silos. I think we’re all one team. I kind of use the football analogy that, yes, a football team has offense and defense and special teams, but they all wear the same uniform, and at the end of the day they have the same goal. That’s to win. I find sometimes that we need to make sure that our main objective is to meet the goals that we’ve made. I’ve always felt that government is really good at process, but we should be good at results. I really want our employees to feel empowered to make decisions at the lowest level possible. I want us to streamline. I want us to make things more simple. I want us to spend time in achieving goals, not figuring out the process of how to get there.

InMaricopa: How did you go about learning the institutional culture?

Horst: Well, you learn pretty quickly, right? I’ve invested myself in a lot of the meetings. I don’t believe in micromanaging, but at the same time, what I knew I had to invest myself in the system to learn what is going on and what they’re trying to do, what processes they have. I think sometimes we work so hard to create the momentum, the process, the program, and we work so hard we don’t want to let it go. We do things right, but we don’t always do the right thing.

InMaricopa: What are some key areas you’re focusing on?

Horst: We’re hoping to deregulate, not only internally but externally, to make it easier for those whom we’re here to serve. We’re hoping to streamline our processes. I use the term, sometimes we spend a dollar to save a nickel, and I want to be careful that we don’t do that. There’s two structures within government – there’s the structure that supports the services we provide, IT, Finance, HR. The other is there to serve the customer, which is the people who provide the operations and services of the City, which is Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, Streets, etc. Our job is to make sure we can internally support those purposes by streamlining how quick they can get personnel hired, how quick they can get resources, materials, the things they need to do their job, and to make sure we don’t get bogged down in process so we can kick out the product at the end of the day.

InMaricopa: So, the process is something governments get bogged down in?

Horst: I think we do… The real mission, from my perspective, of the city besides public safety, which is foremost, is to create an environment where the community can be successful. Whether that is a single parent raising their children, whether that’s a nonprofit, or whether that’s a small business or a big business or a school, or whatever those things are, to allow them to be successful. We don’t have to control everything. We just have to control those things that are the core mission of the City. A lot of cities like to get into ventures that the private sector can supply. We want the community to not be without, so we want to create the opportunity to get the private sector to fill in some of those gaps rather than try to fill them ourselves.

InMaricopa: What are some of the clear-cut strategies you’ve given your team?

Horst: Well, I’m trying to empower them. For instance, we’ve merged all our support services together to a new department called Administrative Services. So, our IT, Finance, HR and those type of things are now under one leader, which is Jennifer Brown as our department head. Therefore, she can cross-utilize those resources. As an example, HR today has to know it’s very involved with financial numbers, and vice versa. Current costs, future costs, benefit costs, all those type of things, so everything can’t be done in a vacuum. It has to be done more holistically as we approach these issues. I sometimes find a department can create a great idea and implement it but didn’t realize it created some unforeseen consequences for another department or action. So, we want to come together and resolve those issues and be collective in our focus. We really have a great team, and they’re accepting these changes and welcoming these changes. To some degree, they’ve taken the handcuffs off so they can be more effective in what they’re doing. Every one of our employees has something significant to offer. We just need to be patient enough to hear them out… So, I’m encouraging people to talk back to the boss, so to speak. Just be polite about it. (Laughs)

InMaricopa: What did you consider City Hall’s strengths when you took the job?

Horst: We have great people. We have talented people. Most of them are not here for a paycheck; they really want to make a difference. And they really work hard to make a difference. They go the extra mile. And I consider them public servants, not employees. Most people won’t ever understand all the things they do to benefit the community. A lot of them do things in their spare time after hours. They participate in other community events, charities, programs, all because they care about this community. They are well invested both personally and professionally.

InMaricopa: Where did you find City Hall lacking?

Horst: If we do something in 15 steps, we could probably do it in 10. Or if it’s in 10, we can do it in five. We’re looking at our processes and we’re saying, “Did it outlive its usefulness? Is there a way to do it better? Are we still doing it because we worked so hard to put it in place?” Sometimes you’ve got to give it up and move onto something new. The city’s changing every day.

InMaricopa: In your short time here, are there areas you’ve already shifted the City?

Horst: We had a centralized purchasing program, and we’re going to decentralize that, and we’re going to be presenting that to the City Council. What that will do is eliminate the bureaucratic process. As an example, if the Street Department needs to order a particular asphalt material to pave roads, that goes up to a Purchasing Department that then prepares the specs and bids. They’re not the experts on that, and it adds another layer. So, if we could have the ability to have these department reach out and do this on their own because it’s their area of expertise – and by the way, department heads are charged with the protection of their budgets – it’s putting the authority and ability to do it back into the departments rather than at centralized purchasing. That will save both time and money. That’s not to say it was broken; it’s a good, better, best thing. We can do better.


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

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The City of Maricopa marked Hispanic Heritage Month with a ceremony and proclamation, joined by mariachi from Eloy High School and Cuacualti Dance Group at City Hall Tuesday night. The event, presented by the Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee, kicked off a month of activities that include Grammy-winner Ramon Ayala in concert at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center on Saturday, a special Story Time at the library Sept. 27, Mexican Bingo (and chips and salsa) during Game Night at Copper Sky Sept. 28, “My Vida Robot” for Movies Under the Stars at UltraStar, a special event on the works of Frida Kahlo at the library Oct. 11, and Kids Bilingual Story Time and the library every Monday and Tuesday in October. See details on these events at InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

 

Among its incubation tasks, the now defunct Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) distributed business loans funded by the City of Maricopa with a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development grant.

The loans totaled $116,000 at a 5 percent interest rate. Years later, more than $98,000 remains to be paid on the loans.


Nine fledgling businesses benefited from loan programs since 2015. Loans ranged from $4,500 to $25,000. The last loan was dispensed Dec. 16, 2016, to River Jumpers LLC.

The MCE was launched in 2013 as an incubator for start-up businesses and a resource for existing companies. It was seeded by a USDA grant of $50,000. Another $120,000 of city-maintained funds was spent that year on a management agreement with Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).

“It may have been a little bit before it’s time,” Mayor Christian Price said.

City Council fenced with three consecutive executive directors over how MCE reported its progress, its transparency and its accountability, including for business loans.

One qualifier for USDA loan candidates was that they had been turned down by a bank or other lending source. Low-interest business loans were an important part of MCE’s offerings since 2014.

Two businesses paid off their loans. Some businesses that obtained loans no longer exist and the loans remain outstanding. Others say they are pushing forward and working at paying back the loans.

Price said those results are the nature of incubating businesses just trying to get off the ground.

“As for repayment, that’s something we’re handling internally now,” said Cassandra Brown, the city’s grants coordinator.

The federally funded loans are in the City’s name, meant for MCE programs. Now the City and not MCE has the full task of tracking the loans. “We’re supporting these new businesses, and we’re actively working with these partners,” Brown said.

WYS Education and True Reflections Boutique had loans of $5,000 and $6,000 respectively, and both wiped them out in less than two years.

Several of the loan recipients no longer have functioning webpages and have not posted in social media in more than a year. In default or merely delinquent, four owe more than their original loan due to interest and fees.

HobbyScopes LLC was the first business to land an MCE loan, which was from a revolving loan fund (RLF) in 2015. As an RLF loan was paid off, the money went back into the program to fund more small-business loans. HobbyScopes’ loan was for $6,000, but the company struggled and still has a balance to be paid.

The next two recipients, Precious Hands Healthcare ($25,000) and ProX Detailing ($7,500), have had varying success paying down their loans.

In 2016, though still questioning MCE’s accountability for the loans, City Council unanimously approved up to $200,000 for MCE expenditures. Shortly after, NACET fired the executive director, Dan Beach. Last fall, the city council effectively fired NACET, and MCE closed in spring.

Price said that allowed the city to take a step back and find a different use for money it had dedicated to MCE.

“We’ve taken those funds and beefed up our Economic Development Department and reallocated it to other departments,” the mayor said.

Price said an incubator is still a good idea for Maricopa but will probably change the approach for “growing an economic garden.”

“We’ll probably focus more on partnerships and stair-step it up,” he said. “I envision we’ll have one in the future. I just don’t know when that future will be.”

Multiple attempts to reach loan recipients for comment were unsuccessful.

 

HobbyScopes LLC
Research-quality microscopes for hobbyists and children

Ketalog, Inc.
Advertising, apps and analytics

K&Q Clothing
Men’s and women’s clothing and accessories

Precious Hands Healthcare LLC
Home healthcare services

PropRX LLC
Property cleanup, preservation and house watch

ProX Detailing & Auto Glass
Auto detailing, washing, tinting, windshield repairs and replacement

River Jumpers LLC
Inflatable bouncers, waterslides, rock walls and other party accessories

True Reflections Boutique
Shop-from-home women’s clothing and accessories

WYS Education LLC
Write Your Story, for self-realization, insight and inspiration


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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Maricopa Mayor Christian Price holds the gavel as league president.

Mayor Christian Price has been named president of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

The organization held its annual conference this week in Phoenix. The 25-member executive committee represents the interests of 91 municipalities.

“It is a tremendous honor and incredible responsibility to be elected president of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns,” Price said. “This position gives Maricopa unprecedented access to state lawmakers, helps to protect her interests and recognizes Maricopa as an influential participant in statewide policy-making.”

The league offers resources and technical assistance to municipalities and represents the league on issues before the Legislature that could impact local government.

Committee officers are elected to two-year terms. Price was the treasurer. He will replace Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny as president.

Phase 1 of the Apex Motor Club project involves the part of the property south of the wash.

 

A lawsuit against the City of Maricopa and Private Motorsports Group is making its way to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Plaintiff Bonita Burks, represented by attorney Tim La Sota, filed a petition for review with the high court Aug. 14. Receipt was logged Aug. 21. The case status is still pending. It has not been assigned to the court schedule.

The case, Bonita Burks v. City of Maricopa, et al., alleges the city inappropriately granted a permit to Private Motorsports Group to build Apex Motor Club in an area that would cause her harm. Burks claimed in court filings the as-yet undeveloped Apex had potential noise and traffic issues not properly considered in city reports.

In July, the Court of Appeals in Tucson ruled Burks did not have standing because she could not prove her home in Rancho El Dorado would be especially impacted by the Apex development more than five miles away. The judges also declined to waive the standing requirement as La Sota requested.

The suit names the City of Maricopa, all councilmembers and the mayor individually, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and the zoning administrator, as well as Private Motorsports Group.

The case was initially filed July 19, 2017, when Burks was still represented by attorney Grant Woods. At the Superior Court level, Judge Robert Olson ruled against Burks, who then filed in the appeals court. During the appeals process, La Sota became Burks’ primary counsel.

La Sota had previously represented Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, an out-of-town group that sued the City over the Apex approval. That case, too, reached the Arizona Supreme Court, where it was rejected for review.

The property in dispute is at the southeast corner of Highway 238 and Ralston Road.

La Sota did not respond to a request for comment. The City does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Taylor Earl talks to the Board of Adjustment about plans for an IHOP. Photo by Michelle Chance

The newest breakfast chain to express interest in serving up business in Maricopa appeared in front of a city board Wednesday afternoon at City Hall.

But, before planning department forwards the project for city council approval, representatives for the International House of Pancakes requested changes to a few of the city’s design requirements. The full-service, 4,764-square-foot restaurant is planned on the southwest corner of the Edison Pointe retail center.

A possible opening date was not discussed.

The Board of Adjustment heard arguments from IHOP representative Taylor Earl of Earl, Curley and Lagarde, a zoning and land use law firm in Phoenix. Earl requested the Board approve design changes that affect the restaurant’s proximity to nearby roadways, as well as the number, location and transparency of windows.

Earl said special circumstances warranted variances to certain commercial building zoning codes.

The layout of the 1.18-acre parcel of land where IHOP plans to open is “quirky,” according to Earl.

A large drainage channel, existing “monument” signage and public utility structures contribute to IHOP’s request to build the structure farther from Edison Road and John Wayne Parkway.

Rodolfo Lopez, senior planner with the City of Maricopa, said zoning code requires businesses to build close to main roadways.

Large, transparent windows aid in visual appeal, Lopez added. “Its purpose is to promote an environment through architectural and urban form design,” Lopez said.

The parcel, through the city’s zoning code specifications, would frame John Wayne Parkway and “celebrate” the building’s architecture.

Earl argued the parcel’s topography and shape make that difficult.

The westside features a sloping property line, and its northeast corner includes a “notch out,” or irregular shape, Earl said.

IHOP wants to limit the number of windows the city requires, mostly because of where the building would be situated on the parcel. Future patrons will enter the restaurant on its north end, nearest its parking lot.

Earl explained the kitchen will face south toward busy Edison Road.

The city prefers those windows exposed to roadways be transparent in an effort to embrace “people viewing” and window shopping, Lopez said.

However, Earl argued a clear view inside the kitchen and other back-of-house operations goes against the aesthetic intent incorporated in city zoning codes.

Earl also said current zoning would compromise the structure’s integrity and argued a need for fewer windows.

With those changes, the IHOP rep said the new eatery will still be easy on the eyes.

“I can tell you that this architecture is very well designed,” Earl said.

Board members passed IHOP’s requests in a 5-1 vote, with Vice Chair Thaddeus Holland opposing.

 

Submitted by Rep. Mark Finchem

Mark Finchem (submitted photo)

On Aug. 15, a news release was circulated by the City of Maricopa that claimed, “The Arizona Legislature Increased your Taxes,” going on to say, “the Arizona Legislature passed and the Governor signed Senate Bill 1529, which significantly changed school funding in selected districts across the state.” At least the press release got that part right, but a significant element of the truth was conspicuously missing.

For decades school districts have received “Desegregation supplemental funding” from both local property taxes (by way of the Primary Property Tax) and from the State General Fund. SB 1529, moved the desegregation supplemental funding from the Primary Property Tax load, to the Secondary Property Tax load, making those school districts who have been collecting Desegregation supplemental funding from the state, accountable for the use of the money to school district residents affected.

When the Legislature first began supplementing local school districts with gap-funding it was an arrangement to ease the strain on local budgets caused by the taxpayer approved 1 percent Property Tax Cap, and the arrangement was to be temporary. Over the years, the urgency to solve segregation was replaced with a sense of entitlement continuation, even though the money was intended to end segregation. In the case of MUSD, the only reason the State has funded desegregation is to address Maricopa’s property tax collection, that is over the 1 percent tax cap. Those school districts that are not over the 1 percent Property Tax Cap, and are under an OCR order to desegregate have never received money from the State, (Phoenix Union is an example). This a problem because the Pinal County and City of Maricopa governmental bodies have made it a problem with their spending habits.

During the 2016 Legislative Session, LD-11 Representatives Vince Leach and Mark Finchem asked about questions generated by the State Auditor General posed to then MUSD School Superintendent Steve Chestnut, “Where is $1,000,000 annually sent to MUSD going; what are you spending it on since after all of these years you have not achieved ‘unitary status’ (desegregation?” His response was short and illustrative of the condition of financial management in many school districts. He simply said, “I don’t know.” In fact, the Superintendent had to check with the Office of Civil Rights to find out how the money was supposed to be spent.

If desegregation has not ended, one is left to ask the tough question, why not? Is it a lack of political will? Or is it that desegregation has been achieved, but the school districts want to keep the tap open and taxpayer money flowing without accountability?

The News Release [also] claims, “The State Legislature passed a law that instituted a secondary property tax without putting it to a vote of those affected, which we believe is illegal and unconstitutional.” This is not a new tax, it is a tax moved from on funding source to another, putting the responsibility for funding on the community that uses the school system, and not other communities that do not have a segregation compliance problem with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

The truth is that with SB 1529, Arizona’s poorer, rural counties are no longer be asked to pay for the inability of allegedly segregated school districts to achieve desegregation, called “unitary status’ by the DOJ, OCR. It is important to emphasize, the money has been set aside for the highly specific purpose of desegregation. And while the News Release claims, “The responsibility for this new tax lies with the State Legislature and the Governor,” the real responsibility lies with the body that spends the money, not with the one that provides the funding.

The salient question for the residents of the City of Maricopa to ask is, “Why has MUSD desegregation not been achieved, is it because of a lack of political will to make the changes needed to desegregate?” Could it be that desegregation has already been achieved and the money is now redirected to another use? Or is it just shear incompetence on behalf of those who are supposed to be stewards of the public funds?

SB 1529 has corrected an inequity, namely taxation without representation. Arizona City residents don’t want to pay MUSD taxes for desegregation when they have precious few dollars for their own children education. It is indeed curious that the Board of Supervisors should have been told by their staff that not all the Desegregation Districts have a 1-percent cap tax problem, and that no state money flows to them thru the supplement, but only to those districts that are evading the vote of the voters that came from SB 1080, a vote to limit taxation on property to 1 percent.

Might it have something to do with the county rate of 3.75 percent (among the highest in the state) and the City of Maricopa at 5 percent (very high if not the highest city rate), leaving only 1.25 percent for CAC and MUSD to fight over?  We, of course, know they don’t–so all collectively go over the 1 percent cap-leaving the shortage for the rest of the state taxpayers to make up.  And the State gets the blame because local taxing jurisdictions can’t or won’t curtail spending?

The time has come for residents of the district to hold their locally elected school board officials, City and even County elected officials accountable for what they are doing with the tax dollars that they have been entrusted with.

Additional information can be found at http://www.arizonatax.org/sites/default/files/publications/position_papers/deseg_handout_1.pdf


Mark Finchem, a Republican, represents LD 11 in the Arizona House of Representatives.

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The City of Maricopa issued a statement that lashed out against state lawmakers this week, blaming the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey for tax increases expected to show up on the next property tax bill for Maricopa homeowners.

The raise in secondary property taxes in Maricopa will cost approximately $45 per $100,000 of assessed home value, according to a City Hall press release published Aug. 15.

The release was published on behalf of the City of Maricopa, Pinal County and Maricopa Unified School District, said City Manager Rick Horst.

What does the tax do?

The local tax pays for desegregation funding utilized by MUSD to hire qualified teachers, implement extra support for English Language Learners and other programming.

Nearly 20 Arizona school districts receive this money to aid in compliance with an order from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights to remediate alleged or proven racial discrimination, according to statute.

MUSD has received desegregation funding since approximately the late 1990s, according to one school official.

The new law shifts the cost burden, previously assigned to taxpayers statewide, to homeowners who live in school districts that receive desegregation dollars.

It’s an issue complicated by Arizona’s complex tax system that mandates a 1 percent property tax cap. The state used to backfill those funds cut off by the cap. Now it’s up to resident homeowners.

Local pushback against the tax

The city says the shift in responsibility is unlawful because voters didn’t get a say.

Nancy Smith (City of Maricopa photo)

“The state Legislature passed a law that instituted a secondary property tax without putting it to a vote of those affected, which we believe is illegal and unconstitutional,” the press release stated.

Mayor Christian Price deferred comment on the subject to Councilmember Nancy Smith.

Smith said Pinal County, the City of Maricopa and Arizona school districts, including MUSD, will analyze the possibilities of legal options to appeal the tax.

Other alternative solutions include restructuring school funding and more dialogue with state legislators.

“We simply ask our state Legislature to come to the table with us to increase communication and allow us to help solve complex issues,” Smith said.

Smith has been a vocal critic of the Legislature, which, she said, often balances its budget “on the backs of towns, cities, counties,” and now school districts.

Smith said those decisions by the state force local governments to determine how to adapt increased costs passed down to them, often taking the form of tax increases.

“We believe it is disingenuous when we hear statements that indicate that our state budget has been passed without raising taxes, when in truth a portion of their budget has been passed to local governments,” Smith said.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved the tax unanimously during a special meeting Wednesday – with some reluctance. 

 “I join with my fellow electeds in the City of Maricopa and Maricopa Unified School District as far as protesting this particular new tax,” said Supervisor Anthony Smith, husband of Nancy Smith. 

State lawmakers double down on tax legality

Senate Bill 1529, signed by Ducey and passed by the Legislature in May, alleges secondary property taxes “levied pursuant to this subsection do not require voter approval.”

State Rep. Mark Finchem (LD 11) maintained the tax’s legality in an opinion piece sent to InMaricopa Thursday.

Mark Finchem (submitted photo)

“This is not a new tax, it is a tax moved from one funding source to another, putting the responsibility for funding on the community that uses the school system, and not other communities that do not have a segregation compliance problem with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights,” Finchem wrote.

Desegregation funding has long been a thorn in many state lawmakers’ sides, with previous, unsuccessful efforts to alleviate the state’s funding portion in the past.

“This issue was on the table long before the now very successful 20×2020 was finalized,” said Rep. Vince Leach (LD 11) regarding Ducey’s teacher salary-raise plan included in this year’s state budget.

Leach suggested lowering local government spending and tax rates to fix the problem.

Sen. Steve Smith

State Sen. Steve Smith (LD 11) questioned how districts spend the money and whether those funds are necessary.

Smith said a solution to the tax debacle is simple: Strike out desegregation funding.

“It’s a bad tax that the local level should eliminate and get rid of it altogether,” Smith said.

MUSD: Desegregation funds crucial to success for every student

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman

District officials said the funding keeps classroom sizes manageable, provides

programming that aids in closing student achievement gaps and is necessary for teaching positions that primarily serve English Language Learners.

The district receives approximately $1.29 million annually in desegregation monies that fund the salaries of about 25 teachers throughout nine schools, according to Superintendent Tracey Lopeman.

“It would be devastating if we lost that funding,” Lopeman said.

In a resident’s lawsuit against the City of Maricopa and a sports-car club, both sides presented their cases to the Arizona Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Bonita Burks sued the City and Private Motorsports Group after a permit was approved for Apex Motor Club. Apex is intended to be a private club for sports car enthusiasts, with a clubhouse, private racetrack and garages.

During oral arguments, the judges were trying to determine if Burks had legal standing to sue and, if not, whether the requirement should be waived. To show “standing,” Burks would have to prove she would be more impacted than the “community at large” by the potential noise, odor and traffic she complained of.

If the appeals court sides with Burks regarding her “standing,” it would open the legal case to the meat of the matter. That is, whether the City acted illegally in allowing Private Motorsports Group to obtain its permit under the old zoning code.

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson has already written his opinion the City did not act correctly in that matter. That opinion, however, was not binding because it was an aside to his ruling Burks had no standing to sue.

The Apex site is at the northwest corner of State Route 238 and Ralston Road. Burks’ home is in Rancho El Dorado, 5.2 miles from the site.

For that reason, the City and Private Motorsports Group have argued Burks does not have standing to file suit. It was a point argued previously before Olson.

“Our argument is, she did not allege or establish at the hearing any facts of personalized injury,” said Roopali Desai of Coppersmith, Schermer & Brockelman, the law firm representing Private Motorsports Group.

Burks’ attorney, while arguing she could have standing because Rancho El Dorado is closer to the Apex site than several other subdivisions, sought to have the whole “standing” requirement waived.

“The zoning matter is a big deal in Maricopa,” said attorney Timothy La Sota, who took over Burks’ case late in the appeals process. He added the statewide concern with zoning issues qualified the case to have the “standing” requirement waived.

La Sota represented Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers in a previous suit against the City that also went before Judge Olson. That was a disagreement over whether the City had taken legislative action or administrative action in granting the permit. MCPT claimed it was legislative action that could be subject to referendum and thus placed on a ballot. The City claimed it was administrative action and not subject to referendum.

Olson ruled in favor of MCPT, but that ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals in September. However, La Sota brought up that sore spot again during Wednesday’s arguments.

The City, he said, changed its actions to administrative “to get around the referendum” and was trying to do something similar by denying Burks’ standing in the case.

Desai argued the state sets an “incredibly high standard” for establishing standing, and for a reason. She rebuffed attempts by the judges to set up hypothetical situations, saying Burks might have standing if she had to drive SR 238 to work every day but that is not a fact in the case.

“She does not use 238 to access her subdivision,” Desai said.

She also noted facts not in the record from the lower-court case, that three master-planned communities, 1,000 homes, railroad tracks and some business properties lie between the Apex site and Burks’ home. She said a noise study and traffic study refuted attempts to claim personal injury.

La Sota said taking the appellee’s “linear” approach to judging impact of the space between was separating the case from the “true standard” of determining personal injury.

The judges pushed La Sota on the definition of “community at large,” saying the attorney had not supplied evidence Burks is being personally impacted more than the rest of Maricopa “other than saying she is more affected because I say she is.”

The Court of Appeals, Division II, in Tucson has taken the arguments under advisement. Both sides now await its decision. If the court waives the “standing” requirement, the City and Private Motorsports Group would have to again defend the City’s action on permits and zoning.

Though City Attorney Denis Fitzgibbons was present at Wednesday’s hearing, he did not make a presentation to the judges.

The American Legion hosted its annual softball game against city staff, elected officials and community members the morning of the Fourth of July at Copper Sky. Just for fun, the game included Legion baseball players, police and fire officials and current and former mayors while giving the Be Awesome Coalition a spotlight.

Still in early stages, a proposal for a Dutch Bros. Coffee store, with drive thru, came before the Heritage District Committee on Thursday.

Dutch Bros. Coffee is proposing a store in Maricopa, and the Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee received an early look at plans Thursday.

That’s because the committee gets an opinion on any development in the Heritage District. Dutch Bros. Coffee’s proposal is on the north side of Fast & Friendly Car Wash.

City planner Rudy Lopez said the project still has to go through site plan review and meet criteria currently under discussion. Developers are also seeking a variance.

The project uses an existing access from John Wayne Parkway, but Lopez said there is an easement on the frontage.

“It’s like a no-build zone,” Lopez said, “so they’re going for a variance.”

Project Manager Michael Oakleaf of Archicon Architecture & Interiors said the current plans make sacrifices to fit into the area. That included abandoning some elements and using a color scheme that would “blend in” with the neighboring car wash.

Oakleaf said those concessions are unusual.

“We’re giving up a lot,” he said.

In what Chairman Brian Foose called “a formality,” the committee unanimously voted its support for the project.