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Maricopa City Council

About 18 acres of land is waiting to be commercially developed at Copper Sky.

Maricopa could have a hotel in place by 2020 if a newly signed agreement with Commercial Properties Inc. (CPI) goes according to plan.

Cecil Yates, property management director for CPI, told the Maricopa City Council he already had three hotel users interested. CPI was selected in May to develop 18.3 acres at Copper Sky for mixed-use commercial, including a hotel.

A master planning and marketing agreement approved by council Tuesday is in place for three years, with three one-year extension options. It gives CPI 30 days to present a master plan for what is currently called Copper Sky Commercial Property.

Besides a hotel, planned uses of the property include retail, offices and restaurants.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the project has the “potential to be a destination.”

The agreement’s goal is to have a hotel of up to 100 units in place July 1, 2020. Yates said the timing possibilities are a year to 18 months from the time building designs are approved.

“They want to stick shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Yates said.

Once CPI has a hotel commitment, it must notify the City whether it intends to purchase or lease the property for the hotel.

By Rich Vitiello

Rich Vitiello (submitted photo)

Dear Maricopa:

Thank you. It will be an honor and privilege serving you, the residents of Maricopa, when I take the oath of office in December. I would like to thank you for your support not only during the campaign, but in the voting booth. Every vote counts and every vote is special. I pledge to be the best council representative I can be – for you and for all of Maricopa.

My family, friends and supporters know that I am a man of my word, and I am as committed to serving this city as I am in caring for our home. This is where we live, and this is where we are.

I am forever grateful for the unwavering encouragement and strength I have received from my wife, family and close friends. Without you, I could never have done it. You, especially, Joann, you are my rock.

Again, thank you, Maricopa.


Rich Vitiello was elected outright to the Maricopa City Council in Tuesday’s Primary Election and was the top vote-getter.

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Rich Vitiello. (Submitted photo)

With early ballots counted and eight precincts reporting out of 11, Rich Vitiello and incumbents Henry Wade and Vincent Manfredi lead the eight-person field of Maricopa City Council candidates.

In the Primary Election, Vitiello received the highest number of votes among the early ballots with 1,495 and overall has 21.18 percent of the votes. Wade totaled is at 18.61 percent and Manfredi 17.11.

Votes cast at the polls and provisional ballots are still being counted by Pinal County. Maricopans are electing three councilmembers.

Currently just behind Manfredi, Bob Marsh has 13.98 percent. Cynthia Morgan has 10.87 percent, Linette Caroselli 10.19 percent and Paige Richie 7.2 percent. There were 69 write-in votes cast in the early ballots. The registered write-in candidate is Leon Potter.

One or more candidates could be elected outright in the primary results. Others could continue on to the General Election in November.


Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.

By Julia R. Gusse

Julia Gusse (submitted photo)

It is with great pleasure that I provide Leon Potter with my full endorsement as he seeks election onto the City of Maricopa’s Council. Mr. Potter is running as a write-in candidate and I have had the pleasure of serving with him on our City Council. I am of the belief that our city is headed in a good direction, but has stalled along the way. Furthermore, it is my opinion that change is needed to push and accelerate our progress. He has proven to me, and to this community, that he does not go along to get along and does not subscribe to the status quo of our current leadership. For those reasons, I am happy to provide him with my endorsement and I wish him nothing but luck and good will as he pursues a seat on our city council.

Julia R. Gusse is a member of the Maricopa City Council.

 

For those concerned with the status of development around Maricopa, the city’s Economic Development department is taking efforts to the next level.

The Maricopa City Council approved a $150,000 expenditure Tuesday to hire a customer analytical firm to help design and execute a plan to draw businesses to the city.

Council approved the $50,000 a year, three-year contract with the Buxton Company to provide “retail attraction data and psychographic profiles and resources” to assist in strengthening and executing a development strategy.

According to Buxton’s director of sales, Parker Key, the company specializes in a tedious analytical assessment to help private and public entities understand consumer trends and, more importantly, which businesses should be targeted.

“We go through this process of matching your community to a database of over 5,000 companies that we’re constantly studying,” Key said.

Simply put, Buxton acts as a type of filter, which, according to Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart, is a beneficial tool to increase the efficiency of economic development efforts.

“We’re not necessarily being strategic,” Airheart said. “We’re going after what is hip, hot, what we’d like to see, what we hear from our residents, what [council] tells us.”

That approach, she said, means the city could be “pursuing retailers that are perhaps not growing in the market, so it could be wasted efforts.”

Vice Mayor Peg Chapados expressed a supportive but critical sentiment toward the expense – “A partnership that we need to take a close look at but will be worth it in the long run.”

Councilmember Marvin Brown, who ultimately voted to approve the expense, echoed the Vice Mayor’s concerns, citing a contract the city had with Buxton 10 years ago.

“I can recall vividly in 2008 when a similar presentation was given to us… and I expressed to [council] at that point that I don’t think Maricopa had evolved enough and was mature enough to award an $80,000-dollar contract to Buxton,” Brown said. “And as a result, I was right, we got zilch out of that study.”

All on council voted to approve the contract, except councilmember Vince Manfredi, who felt the “considerable” growth Maricopa had experienced in recent years was done without Buxton, and the tool was ultimately just being hopeful.

“I’m not much of a hoper,” he said. “I hear flowery stories all the time and how well things can work for us. Then a year later, or two years later, I’m wondering why we spent $200,000 on something.”


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Photo by Mason Callejas

Tuesday, Mayor Christian Price proclaimed March Women’s History Month:

Women’s History Month proclamation

Whereas, women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the growth and strength of our Nation, our State, our County, and our City in countless recorded and unrecorded ways; and
Whereas, women contribute to the local, regional and national economic development as business owners, partners, executives, entrepreneurs and managers; and
Whereas, women have played and continue to play critical social, cultural and economic roles in every sphere of life by constituting a significant portion of the labor force working inside and outside of the home; and
Whereas, women have played a unique role throughout the history of Maricopa by providing much of the volunteer labor force in our the City, and
Whereas, women created and continue to play a vital role in sustaining Maricopa’s charitable, philanthropic, and cultural institutions; and
Whereas, women of all races, ages, and ethnic backgrounds have served, and continue to serve, as leaders and valued members of our City government, department Directors, public safety, and staff; and
Whereas, women have served our country courageously in the military; supported and encouraged military families through their leadership and contributions in auxiliary organizations; and
Whereas, despite all of these incredible contributions, we continue to honor and respect women throughout our history, and presently, for their great deeds & accomplishments, but also in their cherished roles as mothers, wives, aunt’s, sisters, nieces and grandmothers; and
Whereas, we wish to recognize and acknowledge all women for their wisdom, strength, resolve, compassion, dedication, perseverance, devotion and unwavering love to all mankind;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim the month of March 2018 asWomen’s History Month in the City of Maricopa, Arizona.
Dated this 20th day of March, 2018

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Photo by Mason Callejas

City Council heard a presentation Tuesday from a private company that claims to be able to help lower utility and maintenance costs by leasing machinery and heavy equipment to the city.

Rick Gibson with Sustainability Partners spoke to council and those in attendance during the work session, calling his organization “the cloud utility.”

“Without using debt, we’re a way for you to pay for what you use more,” Gibson said.

Sustainability Partners offers lease-like service agreements for heavy equipment such as LED lighting, HVAC and irrigation.

The best part, Gibson said, “you only use what you pay for.”

They calculate kilowatt-hour usage and other operating costs to determine the extent of usage and based on that then determine a monthly cost for the equipment.

The agreements are month-to-month with an option to buy out or cancel whenever their customers wish.

To buy out the equipment, Gibson said, a price is calculated that shrinks each year based on usage. After 10 years, customers are given the option to buy out for $1, he added.

Customers are also not bound to the agreement. All have a chance to cancel with a 30-day notice.

Mayor Christian Price suggested to “turn them [Sustainability Partners] loose” on city-owned property to determine if there is something the company can do. Price said he knows there are certain elements within the city’s infrastructure that will soon need to be replaced and this might be a viable option.

Councilmember Henry Wade didn’t disagree with Price, but he reminded council that the city would have to go through the bidding process before any decision could be made.”

“We would have to make sure the playing field is level,” Wade said.

To that, Price said, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” and that by advising the City Manager to look at creating a Request for Proposal so that “it moves the process forward in discovery.”

Council advised city staff to move forward with an RFP and additionally provide council with more information that would help them understand some of the more intricate details of a service like Sustainability Partners.

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Daranne Tacker, Employee Award of Excellence

The City of Maricopa presented Awards of Excellence to outstanding employees during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the council.

Non-Manager
Daranne Tacker, Smartgov System Analyst

“Since her re-hire more than a year ago with the City, Daranne has tackled her position with a vengeance, learning a new system, training co-workers, studying for certifications, all while displaying excellent customer service. Daranne is always courteous and patient with customers who come into City Hall as well as on the phone. Her service to the public, dedication, hard work, and contributions to the SmartGov program are an asset to Development Services and the positive image she portrays for the City of Maricopa.”

Mid-Management
Adriana Carpio, Deputy City Clerk

“Adriana is an exceptional employee worthy of this award. She provides exceptional customer service to both our internal and external customers. She is very reliable and dependable. She always helps everyone with a positive attitude, a smile on her face and most importantly for our department, with high ethical standards. Adriana is committed to the job, the organization and the community and I am honored to nominate her for this award. She is a true asset to the City Clerk’s Office and most importantly, the City of Maricopa.”

Part-Time
Robert Eberwein, Maintenance Worker

“Robert takes on a great deal of responsibility as a p/t staff member. He keeps the pool up and running over the weekends. Because of his construction background, Robert takes on minor construction, painting and remodeling projects at Copper Sky Facilities during off hours allowing minimal interruption to members and park patrons. If park maintenance staff is shorthanded on Sundays, Robert has no problems jumping in a helping with trash & litter, getting ballfields prepped and/or Ramada’s ready for a rental. Robert has a great attitude about his work, Copper Sky and the City. If any issues arise, Robert’s knowledge and quick learning skills has made him the go-to person on Sundays.”

Public Safety
Josh Eads, Fire Engineer (Not Present)

“Josh has demonstrated outstanding performance and dedication in helping the Fire Department with public safety awareness and wildland firefighting. Josh Eads has been involved with the Fire Pal organization since its inception in 2009. Since then he has been appointed program coordinator and has chaired the position since 2012. During his tenure, the Fire-Pals program has expanded to all public and private schools within the City. He was also successful in implementing Water Safety Week for first graders using a curriculum provided by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. As Chair and coordinator for the Wildland Urban Interface program, Engineer Eads is responsible for in-house training, outfitting, and state compliance of our 13 wildland firefighters.”

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The intersection of Desert Greens at Smith-Enke Road with library in background

The Maricopa City Council agreed to test a left-hand turn restriction on a residential street near the public library at a meeting Tuesday.

Soon, during peak traffic hours, the city will begin limiting left-hand turns from Desert Greens Drive onto Smith-Enke Road due to recent concerns about the safety of drivers turning east.

After inquiring with Maricopa Police Department, Director of Public Works Bill Fay said since their most recent traffic study about a year ago, there has been only one accident at that intersection. Nonetheless, the city feels a traffic control device of some sort is needed.

“I had a commander in the military, years ago, that said to me, ‘Bill, if there is right way to shower and shave a cat, the army has a regulation on it,” Fay joked, alluding to the litany of regulations surrounding an issue like this.

A number of those regulations, Fay said, dictate a stop sign to be appropriate for the intersection.  However, since the danger has been assessed to only be a concern during high traffic hours, limiting left-turns was favored over a stop sign.

Some officials expressed concern with a complete left-turn restriction, saying drivers trying to head east on Smith-Enke would instead make a potentially dangerous U-turn farther west at Province Parkway.

“So [then], we haven’t really solved the problem,” Mayor Christian Price said. “We’ve only increased another problem.”

To better understand the effects of the restrictions, City Manager Gregory Rose suggested a testing period.

“Let’s do a BETA test,” Rose said, “see if restricting the left-hand turn during peak hours accomplishes what we’re trying to accomplish.”

In the end, council directed city staff to proceed with a limited left-turn restriction trial at Desert Greens Drive and Smith-Enke Road.

The exact time the restriction will go into effect, and the hours when left-turns will be limited, has yet to be determined, Fay said. Signs will be ordered, and times will be determined most likely in the next week or so, he said.

Though he couldn’t comment on what exact time of day the restrictions will be, Fay did say they will most likely be during morning and evening “rush-hour.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Police Department celebrated its 10-year anniversary Tuesday with a special display of select equipment and resources at Maricopa City Hall.

On display were various items used by the department’s Special Response Team (SRT) and Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Also present were members of police Support Services, PD Explorers, and Volunteers in Police Service.

During the City Council’s regular meeting, charter members of the department where honored with a special video highlighting their decade of service to the City of Maricopa.

Mayor Christian Price presented the special proclamation while recognizing the growth of the city and the department, which had 17 members in 2007, and now has 88.

MPD Chief Steve Stahl accepted the proclamation on behalf of the nine charter members still with MPD, all of whom, he said, maintain a special place in city history.

“We’ve received outstanding support,” Stahl said of city management and citizens alike. “You can’t have a safe city without outstanding support from our elected leaders, both current and past, and our citizens.”

Stahl further acknowledged the people he considers the unsung heroes in this equation – the families of officers.

“You have given all of us the journey, the ability to lead, and you’ve displayed faith in us to keep your loved ones safe, and we take that very seriously,” Stahl said. “But we also take the support you give us to heart. Thank you all for all of this.”

For information on volunteering and other things you can do to support the Maricopa Police Department visit www.maricopa-az.gov/web/police.

Global Water President Ron Fleming talks to the Maricopa City Council June 6. Photo by Mason Callejas

A local utility company has issued a formal public response to a swath of customer complaints recently lodged against them for their high rates, alleged dubious billing practices and poor-quality customer service.

“Like it or not, Pinal County is going to be ground zero for this reality.”
— Ron Fleming

Global Water Inc. responded to their customer’s concerns with a letter and presentation to the Maricopa City Council during their work session June 6. The company announced several changes to its fee structure and customer service.

Their rates, however, are not likely to shrink any time soon.

The utility has in the past cited a problematic infrastructure they inherited back in 2004 as well as infrastructure development done in anticipation of future growth as reasons why their rates are higher than average.

Councilmember Nancy Smith expressed concern with this explanation and wanted to know when there might be a turning point where Global Water customers won’t have to pay exorbitant rates because the city has grown to a level were the utility’s revenue offsets the cost of their development investment.

“At some point, you’re not bearing the cost of all that infrastructure,” Smith said. “I know it might be too early to tell at this point, but there will come a day. Does your business plan show us when that will be and when rates could be lowered for residents here in Maricopa?”

Global Water President Ron Fleming highlighted the aforementioned reasons and further described the rate structure, approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, which he said allows for Global Water the right to make a yearly rate-of-return of at least 7.5 percent, a figure he has not yet seen his company come close to.

“Ultimately the question is ‘What is the rate of return on your invested capital?,’” Fleming said. “We, on that rate of return calculation, have not earned anywhere near the authorized rate of return that is approved by the Corporation Commission.”

During the presentation, Fleming acknowledged several other concerns, including 63 customer complaints filed in the last year, of which only three were “proven to be valid billing errors and were quickly rectified.”

Fleming also said the utility has begun to waive meter re-read fees for customers who have bills above $200, and that customers can request a special home visit, free of charge, to discuss “meters and leak detection.”

Their new policy also acknowledges the extenuating circumstances that can arise from “health concerns impacting a customer’s ability to pay,” Fleming said, which will be evaluated by local staff to help assist with billing and financial concerns.

As for customer service, Fleming said his company has added specially-trained Global Water staff, which has produced between 92 and 95 percent customer satisfaction since December.

A point of pride for Global water is evident in the fact that, according to them, customers in their Santa Cruz water district use the least amount of water among some of their competitors — 70,000 gallons less per year per customer.

This, Fleming said, is a result of the use of purple-pipe water recycling alongside the overall stewardship of a finite resource.

Another reason for rates not shrinking in the future, Fleming added, is the state of Arizona will not likely see a sudden influx of accessible water.

In fact, the amount of accessible water is likely to decrease in the future due to population growth, weather patterns and diminishing ground water supply.

“Like it or not, Pinal County is going to be ground zero for this reality,” Fleming said.

To serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence

The Maricopa City Council agreed Tuesday to facilitate an advocacy center for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

After an emotional plea by several members of the community, including abuse and violence advocates from multiple organizations, council unanimously agreed to take on the role as a public overseer of the center.

The center, funded by a conglomeration of grant money funneled through local governments and non-profits, will, among other things, function as a venue where victims of sexual assault or domestic violence can receive post-trauma assistance. An important aspect is sexual-assault testing.

Without a local advocacy center or hospital, victims of sexual assault must often be driven 30 minutes to an hour in order to be examined. This extended timeline is cited by law enforcement as a reason why victims often forgo testing.

County Attorney Kent Volkmer spoke at the meeting in support of the move, which he said is “absolutely vital” to helping him and his office obtain convictions.

“When the advocacy center is developed in a community, the amount of people that actually come and report and have those services performed and interviews done skyrockets,” Volkmer said.

Since 2015, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said, MPD has escorted 540 victims of sexual assault or domestic violence to hospitals and other advocacy centers for testing. He said the prolonged timeline and the lack of proper sexual-assault testing can lead to predators escaping conviction.

“I do not want a defense attorney to have an argument against our most vulnerable,” Stahl said. “That’s my job as a police officer, to get the best team together to collect all of the evidence.”

Debate about the FAC was not aimed at attacking its need. All involved in the conversation acknowledge that. The concern was directed at the city’s financial obligation.

Though the center is tentatively funded with grants and donations for the next five years, some officials expressed concern with the overall sustainability of the project, wanting to know what would happen if the funding fell through.

Councilmember Nancy Smith, though ultimately voting to approve the measure, questioned the city’s level of responsibility to what has been called a “regional issue” by both city and county officials.

“Why are you [Volkmer] standing here asking us to open it when your office is not there yet,” Smith asked.

To that, Volkmer said, the county is still not financially viable enough to fund another FAC on top of what they will already spend on testing and staff – roughly $100,000-$120,000 a year.

Eventually, he added, after several major projects are finished in Pinal County, they may be able to fund another center but that could be 2-5 years down the line. That’s 2-5 years of victims who are not getting the services they need.

As a stipulation of the agreement, council stressed MPD and city staff needed to continue to work with the county to address the long-term sustainability of the FAC.

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During Tuesday's meeting, Relay for Life organizers and participants stand with Mayor Price (left) and councilmembers Henry Wade (second from left) and Nancy Smith (third from left) in recognition of cancer awareness as part of Paint the City Purple Month. Photo by Mason Callejas

A plan to relocate senior programs displaced by the impending demolition of the Copa Center was approved by the city council Tuesday.

The decision to relocate the Adult Drop-in program, though unanimous, was preceded by a hearty discussion among the council members concerning a lack of exclusivity for seniors and a last-minute, unforeseen cost.

Starting April 3, Copper Sky will become the new primary residence of the Adult Drop-in program. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Room A” will be made available to the various senior groups who gather to play cards and Bingo, or to knit and sew.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, or in the event of a scheduling conflict  within the group, the school district will allow the program the use of two unoccupied classrooms at Santa Cruz Elementary in Tortosa.

There are, however, a few strings attached to these new locations that some councilmembers felt have been overlooked.

Councilmember Nancy Smith addressed the fact that at Copper Sky anyone 18 and up can use the Adult Drop-in space and possibly interrupt certain senior activities.

“In my mind, this should be for seniors only,” Smith said. “I don’t know where you draw the line – 50, 55 or 60 – this should be for seniors only.”

The Adult Drop-in program, according to Mayor Christian Price, has always been open to anyone 18-years-old or older. However, when located at the isolated Copa Center, senior groups that participated in the program went through a natural selection of sorts as few people under 55 went out of their way to use the facility.

In a rather unorthodox move, senior members of the audience were permitted to speak outside of the “Call to the Public” to address these and other concerns raised by the council.

To the age issue, Copa Seniors Coordinator Fran Warzeha said she sees the event of a young adult mingling with seniors as an opportunity, not a burden.

“We would like to keep it as 55 and older,” Warzeha said, “but I don’t think any of us would say ‘No, you can’t come and play cards with us,’ because we need to teach the younger kids how to play cards, how to play games and get off the electronic devices.”

The other major apprehension of the council concerned the second location – Santa Cruz.

The isolated classrooms at Santa Cruz could offer the groups their desired exclusivity. Those rooms, however, will only be available to the Adult Drop-in program once the district has completed the construction of a chain-link fence designed to separate the students from the adults. The fence is something the school district feels the city should pay for.

According to Maricopa Community Services Director Kristie Riester, the district waives most facility costs as an exchange for funds granted to the city to help supply schools with school resource officers.

“Because they are getting something from the grant that we applied for, they aren’t charging us those rental costs,” Riester said.

Concerns about student safety and insurance liability brought about construction of the fence, which wasn’t presented to her until recently, Riester said.

“This fee, it’s not like a rental fee,” Riester said. “It’s something they will actually incur that they have not budgeted for.”

After a brief discussion, council dually determined the potential cost of the modest fence to be reasonable, and the risk of younger people potentially joining the Adult Drop-in program acceptable.

While the fence is under construction, the city will accommodate the seniors Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. When the fence is complete, senior groups will have access to multiple spaces where they can gather and socialize. Though there may not be a stringent senior exclusivity clause attached to the new locations, seniors nonetheless have found their new recreational home.

Mayor Christian Price, backed by Vice Mayor Marvin Brown (left) and Councilmember Henry Wade, declares February Black History Month. Photo by Mason Callejas

Text of Black History Month proclamation by Mayor Christian Price

Whereas, Diversity of social identity, including racial and cultural identity, contributes positively to the development of society and is a matter of pride and celebration; and
Whereas, Americans of African descent have made valuable and lasting contributions to our country and our state, achieving exceptional success in all aspects of society including business, education, politics, science and the arts; and
Whereas, in 1976, Black History Month was adopted to honor and affirm the importance of the history of African Americans and to focus on the stories and teachings of those who helped build our nation, advance the cause of civil rights and strengthen families and communities; and
Whereas, the City of Maricopa continues to work toward becoming an inclusive community in which all citizens, past, present, and future, are respected and recognized for their contributions and potential contributions to our community, the state, the country, and the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do
hereby proclaim the month of February 2017 as Black History Month in the City of Maricopa, Arizona, and we urge all citizens to join with us in celebrating the significance of Black culture in its past, present, and going forward into the future.
Dated this 7th day of February, 2017

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Anthony Smith is projected to win re-election as county supervisor by a close margin while Nancy Smith received the most votes in the Maricopa City Council race.

Early election results in Pinal County show a supervisor hanging onto his seat while his wife may have been re-elected outright to the Maricopa City Council.

Anthony Smith looks to have held off a boisterous challenge from Rich Vitiello. He has a little more than 54 percent of the early totals.

Unofficial totals
County Supervisor District 4
Anthony Smith    2,844
Rich Vitiello         2,400
Total                      5, 244

“I’m very pleased to go forward,” Smith said. “I’m very excited about the next four years. There’s so much going on in Pinal County, and I want to be a part of it.”

With Vitiello receiving at least 45 percent of the vote, Smith anticipates the precinct breakdown will show strong Vitiello support in the Hidden Valley area, where residents were upset over the concept of the Palo Verde Regional Park.

“The survey showed some people wanted the choice of having no action on the park, so I put that on the table,” he said.

With no Democrats running, the primary results are a re-election for Smith.

Meanwhile, Nancy Smith at this point in the vote count has exceeded the threshold determined by state law calculations, which would re-elect her to the city council.

“I’m very excited and very humble,” she said of leading the voting among seven candidates for three seats. “It’s overwhelming and exciting.”

Unofficial totals
Maricopa City Council (vote for up to 3)
Nancy Smith       1,816
Julia Gusse       1,369
Marvin Brown      1,287
Dan Frank         1,187
Bridger Kimball   1,107
Joshua Babb       1,054
Leon Potter         787
Total             8,607

She said she believes her topics she made her key issues may have garnered her the top status. That includes a Global Water feasibility study, economic development, widening State Route 347 and “being able to articulate the floodplain issue.”

If the early statistics hold up, Smith will not have to run in the General Election in November to retain her seat.

Those below the threshold go forward to a runoff in the general election. That includes former councilmember Julia Gusse (who has the second highest vote total), incumbents Marvin Brown and Bridger Kimball along with former councilmember Dan Frank.

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Alan Marchione

By Alan Marchione

On Tuesday, March 22, City Council held a Special Meeting to publicly discuss the topic of citizens possessing concealed weapons permits, and their ability to lawfully carry firearms into city facilities. Due to a conflict in scheduling and my inability to personally attend, a councilmember offered to read a letter on my behalf in support of the item.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados advocated that he not read the letter, and if the item were truly important to me, that I would make it a point to be personally present at the meeting.

Chapados is retired, and never having a family of her own, may not fully comprehend the demand for time and resources that are placed on the average American household. As a single father raising two children, working full time, and serving as board president for the Villages at Rancho El Dorado Home Owners Association, my schedule can conflict with city meetings. Being a dedicated employee, an active parent, and an involved member of the community, I represent a majority demographic of Maricopa constituents.

Mrs. Chapados’s conduct is unbecoming, unethical and unprofessional. In fact, I find her attempt at limiting my ability to take part in the democratic process to be “un-American.” Furthermore, as a former United States Marine, I did not give five years of my life protecting our most dearly held rights as Americans just so Mrs. Chapados, who has never served, can dictate when citizens’ thoughts, views and ideas are permitted. As my elected representative, I ask that Councilmember Chapados please conduct herself in an appropriate and professional manner, and display dedication to her civic duty by supporting, not limiting, the voices of those she is intended to represent.

After filing a complaint with Chapados regarding this matter, she lacked the professionalism to even confirm receipt, nor did she express any remorse or acknowledgement that these actions infringe on our rights as citizens of this municipality. Any accountable elected representative would feel obligated to address such a complaint. Chapados should no longer be recognized as a representative voice for the people of Maricopa, but as a representative for personal interests and political agenda.

Although the measure did pass (to allow concealed carry permit holders the right to bear arms within city facilities,) Councilmember Chapados ultimately voted against the measure, thus conflicting with her oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and vying to negate our Second Amendment rights.

If it should again surface that Chapados has attempted to act maliciously in limiting citizens’ right to take part in activities involving our local government, it will become necessary to immediately file a formal ethics complaint against her with the City of Maricopa, and let the council openly, and publicly, decide on the matter.


Alan Marchione is a resident of Maricopa.

Library manager Erik Surber will give a presentation on the library during an April 5 city council meeting.

By Yvonne Gonzalez

Maricopa Public Library is underfunded, understaffed and out of options to expand services without added resources.

Library manager Erik Surber said he plans to ask the city for more funding as officials lay out the next budget in the coming months. He will give a presentation on the current budget situation for city council members during an April 5 work session.

“I feel it’s really my job to advocate for the library to get us to where I think [we should be],” Surber said, “and where the community wants us.”

Surber said there are no current plans to close the library on Saturdays, despite a rumor to the contrary.

“We’re in the middle of the budget process right now,” he said. “Nothing’s finalized at this point.”

Library programs are largely based on community input, Surber said.

“If there [are] a lot of people asking for certain programs and we want to add it, we have to look at what program we’re currently offering that we would cut,” he said. “That is the reality of our economic situation.”

City spokesperson Jennifer Brown said a new spending plan for the city will be adopted in late June, with the current budget year ending in July.

“The budget is tight for everybody,” she said. “We’re still in the midst of figuring out next year’s budget.”

Though the library is understaffed, Surber noted the facility doesn’t have the capacity to hold more employees.

“In this case, being undersized trumps being understaffed,” he said.

Surber said among 16 Arizona cities with a population between 12,000 and 80,000, the median library budget is $33.88 per capita. Meanwhile, Maricopa’s library is about a third of that, at $11.20 per capita.

Median staffing for those same libraries, Surber said, is at 0.54 full-time equivalent positions for every 1,000 residents, while Maricopa sits at 0.18.

“That’s generally how libraries measure staffing level,” he said.

Several reasons play into the library’s staffing and funding, from the economic downturn to the rising costs of goods, including books.

“We are the newest of those 16 libraries,” he said. “We are the newest one and playing catch-up.”

He said the library has been put in a difficult funding position.

“We’re definitely not unique in that struggle,” he said. “Libraries all over the country are really finding themselves in similar positions.”

The library is getting creative in finding funds, pursuing sponsors for its summer reading program as well as regional and national grants.

“It’s an unfortunate situation economically that we’re in currently, but we’re trying to find solutions,” he said.

Councilmember Henry Wade. (left) and Mayor Christian Price mulled the complexities of issues on allowing concealed-weapon-permit holders to bring guns into city buildings. File photos by William Lange

By Michelle Chance

The Maricopa City Council on Tuesday voted to forward a proposal that will allow concealed carry weapon permit holders to bring firearms into government buildings as an agenda item to vote on in a future meeting.

The council’s support was partially influenced by the nine citizens who spoke in front of the council during a policy meeting at City Hall. All speakers voiced approval of the proposed policy change.

Currently, no person, whether a permit holder or not, is allowed to bring guns into city buildings.

Councilmember Bridger Kimball clarified the discussion was about allowing CCW permit holders to carry in municipal buildings, not about “constitutional” carry.

Despite the overall support displayed at the meeting, councilmember Henry Wade Jr. expressed skepticism on the proposed policy.

“The fact that we had no one come forward to argue against this effort is interesting and somewhat concerning,” Wade said, adding, “I don’t know whether or not people are actually ambivalent to the issue, or feel like their voices aren’t going to be heard in the first place, but the fact is the majority of the people who have approached us have said that they were in favor of allowing CCW permit holders to bring firearms into government buildings.”

Ultimately, Wade said because majority rules in a democracy he would vote on the issue “based on people who have talked to me” and his conscience.

Vice Mayor Marvin Brown also remarked on the lack of opposition to the measure during the meeting.

“I suspect many of the people who oppose this didn’t show up because they would feel overwhelmed by your passion and your numbers,” Brown said to supporters of the policy change.

Brown later expressed concern regarding a hypothetical active shooter situation in which the police department might have trouble discerning between the criminals and the citizens who have guns during such an incident.

In that situation, Brown said of CCW permit holders, “We are all going to be subjected to being killed.”

Overall, Brown said, “If we could overcome some issues, I’d be willing to support this on the agenda.”

Meanwhile, Councilmember Nancy Smith said she had “peace of mind” after researching the statistics on lowered gun crime rates after CCW permit holders were allowed to bring firearms onto government property in other cities. According to the Arizona Department of Safety website, there are 9,978 CCW permit holders in Pinal County.

However, the results of an “unscientific” survey recently taken of government employees produced mixed reactions, Smith said.

As the proposal was outlined during the meeting, government employees and volunteers could not carry firearms with a permit on to government property, even though members of the public who are CCW permit holders could.

Mayor Christian Price agreed with Smith, saying, “We have to treat our employees as citizens.”

Price added he supported the exception to the policy in which government employees and volunteers should be allowed to carry as well, so long as they have a CCW permit.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados suggested in shared facilities like the courthouse, where county employees are banned from carrying concealed weapons, that city employees be held to that prohibition as well.

According to reports in January by the Maricopa Police Department, serious crime, including gun crime, have been reduced. Vehicle theft is the highest reoccurring crime issue in the city.

However, incidents with gun violence still occur. Two people were killed last week in a homicide-suicide domestic dispute that ended after a five-hour standoff in a Maricopa subdivision.

Despite incidents of gun violence, the public and city leaders at the meeting supported the idea of allowing firearms into government buildings like City Hall and Copper Sky Recreational Center.

Every councilmember, including the mayor and vice mayor, agreed to forward the proposal as an agenda item with some exceptions regarding government staff also being allowed to carry firearms with a permit. The date of the meeting on which the issue will be voted upon has yet to be announced.

The action at a future council meeting would be to modify city code.

City Manager Gregory Rose said the issue of guns left unattended in bags at Copper Sky or other facilities also needs to be addressed.

The MFD administration building as well of two of its fire stations are having mold problems. Photo by Devin Carson

A problem that has been growing for four years is at the beginning of a solution, but Maricopa City Council is not happy with how things reached this rotten state.

“We have two fire stations that have mold growing in them and also the fire administration building that has mold,” said Lonnie Inskeep, assistant chief for Maricopa Fire Department.

He came before council Tuesday to ask for $30,500 from the city’s contingency fund. He also asked council to approve a contract with Core Construction to deal with the problem.

“We’ve noticed the mold had been growing for a while,” he said. “And because we have questions from our personnel about the quality of the air – what are they breathing in, how are these mold spores affecting them – decided to turn it over to Environmental Consulting Services.”

The problems were found in Fire Station 571, Fire Station 574 and the administration buildings. Inskeep said there is no evidence of mold at the other two fire stations because they were constructed differently. He also said he was assured by the architect and general contractor the new fleet building also will not have mold problems.

He said the mold is deep within the shower walls. Core Construction will do containment with plastic shields, duct tape and exhaust fans, and then completely strip down the walls to remove and properly dispose of the mold.

“We want to do the job right so we don’t have this happen again,” Inskeep said.

“It should not have happened the first time,” Vice Mayor Marvin Brown said.

The mold was discovered in 2012, and the department tried to treat it with basics like bleach. However, the problem kept returning.

“Some employees say that this is the sickest they’ve been in two years,” Inskeep said. Though they have not had medical tests to prove the cause, Inskeep said MFD wants to fix the problem and move forward.

Councilmember Nancy Smith encouraged Inskeep to make sure ongoing issues are brought forward during the budget process so the council will know about possible hits to the contingency fund.

“We probably should have had some knowledge that this was a problem,” she said.

When Mayor Christian Price asked why MFD waited until now to bring the mold issue forward, Inskeep said, “I really have no good answer to that.”

He said they did not understand how deep the problem was and compared the reveal to peeling layers off an onion.

The estimate from Core Construction includes $24,374 for the three administration buildings, $2,675 for station 571 and $2,735 for station 574. Inskeep, resource manager for MFD, said he added $800 to cover unexpected costs.

Council approved the expenditure.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

•    The council approved an intergovernmental agreement with Arizona Department of Transportation for the design of the planned overpass. City attorney Denis Fitzgibbons said the city is requesting a couple of minor changes, but if they increase the cost to the city the IGA will be brought back to council. The city’s cost for the design portion is almost $700,000.

“This is a big one. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Price said. “It’s a good thing.”

•    The council also approved the expansion of the Beer Garden at the upcoming Salsa Festival, but not unanimously. Events Manager Niesha Whitman said Police Chief Stahl was amenable to expanding beer to the footprint of the festival only with strict stipulations, including adding five security personnel. She said 20-50 people complained about the Beer Garden restrictions.

Councilmember Peg Chapados said she did not like the idea of turning the entire festival into a beer garden. She was also unhappy council was not told about the major change much earlier.

•    The council approved the performance evaluation for City Manager Gregory Rose and approved a 5-percent merit raise.

•    The council authorized the completion of paperwork to apply for the Rural Public Transportation Program.

Rich Vitiello, with his wife, announced his intention to withdraw from the city council race and run for county supervisor during Tuesday's council meeting. Submitted photo

Rich Vitiello is running for office, but he’s changed his mind about which office he is seeking.

The businessman had pulled a packet to run for a seat on the Maricopa City Council. Sheriff Paul Babeu was instrumental in his decision to instead run for the District 4 county supervisor seat against incumbent Anthony Smith.

“Public safety has always been No. 1 for me,” Vitiello said. “I was endorsed by fire and police when I ran two years ago.”

Vitiello ran for an abbreviated term on the council in 2014, but lost to Nancy Smith, the wife of Anthony Smith

As supervisor, Tony Smith got crosswise with Babeu over the county budget. The sheriff felt the supervisors have not given public safety the priority it deserves. He singled out Smith for going beyond the county manager’s request of a 3-percent budget cut and suggesting a 4.5-percent cut. Though Babeu will not be the sheriff next year, instead running for Congress, he reached out to Vitiello to run against Smith primarily because of that issue.

“It’s important to have leaders that understand that, to have leaders who will make that a priority,” Babeu said Tuesday. “I thought Rich would make a good candidate, he’s offered himself as a candidate before, so I thought he should consider it.”

Vitiello said he consulted his family and friends before making the decision.

Rich Vitiello in council chambers Tuesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Rich Vitiello in council chambers Tuesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

He said he disagreed with the supervisors on their handling of the budget. “No businessman cuts straight across the board,” he said. “It’s impossible.”

Vitiello has worked in what he describes as the international cycling business for 27 years. He is employed at Autonation Honda.

He said things should have been moved around in the county budget to make sure public safety remained a more of a priority.

“Here in Maricopa, 51 percent of the budget is public safety. I’m 100 percent behind that,” he said. “A safe city brings CEOs and businesses. It’s public safety that brings economic development. I’m all about economic development. I’m all about public safety.”

Though he said he is passionate about Maricopa, Vitiello said he still needed to learn about the rest of District 4, which includes Hidden Valley, Stanfield, Saddlebrooke and Oracle.

How do you like your salsa? Search out your favorite on Saturday at the annual Salsa Festival in Maricopa.

Maricopa City Hall will be busy this week, but the big event for the week – even the year – is Saturday’s Salsa Festival at Copper Sky. For details on these events and others, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

SUNDAY-SATURDAYrattlerscamp1

Arizona Rattlers public practice is from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. every day next to the dog park at Copper Sky Regional Park, 55345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

SUNDAY

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Office, 44480 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 106.

MONDAY

Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission Meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Agenda items involve the draft General Plan.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave. (enter through door on right side of building).

TUESDAY

Leading Edge Academy Groundbreaking is at 8:30 a.m. for the expansion facility in Maricopa, 18700 N. Porter Road. RSVP.

Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library starts at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road. Meet every Tuesday for refreshments and conversation and get acquainted with the library. All ages welcome.

Maricopa Artists’ Gallery Show Opening is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Local artists will display Maricopa-themed art through June.

City Council Work Session is at 6 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. The mayor and council will hear a presentation on mosquito abatement at city parks.

City Council Regular Session is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Agenda items include an IGA for the overpass design, a financial audit, mold remediation and City Manager Gregory Rose’s performance evaluation.

WEDNESDAY

Non-profit Funding Evaluation Committee meets at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Agenda items include a recommendation of funding for the Scholarship Match Program.

Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board Meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. The agenda includes the budget, updated policies and changes in personnel.

THURSDAY

Friends on the Porch meet at 9 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road. Join the Friends of the Library for coffee, cookies and entertainment. Meet under the tent.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.

SATURDAY

Salsa Festival is from 2 to 8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park, 55345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Food, entertainment, Arizona Rattlers, free shuttle, Maricopa Science City and much more.

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Paul Jepson is sent off with flair by Councilmember Peg Chapados. Submitted photo

In an otherwise brief meeting, the Maricopa City Council took time to honor Intergovernmental Affairs Director Paul Jepson as he prepares to leave Maricopa to become the city manager of Globe.

Jepson has been a part of the Maricopa city staff for a decade. He was one of the first employees hired by the city, and he has played an integral role in gathering funding for the overpass on State Route 347.

“I applied for a management assistant job through the college, and I was hired as employee No. 13,” Jepson says. “Initially, it was ‘Hey, we’re brand new and working out of trailers. You have a master’s degree and are a teacher so you know about education.’ I also happen to be [knowledgeable] in educational technology, so I was able to help with the webpage as well. That’s probably why I was hired. I was able to fill three hats, and I was willing to do it.”

See our feature on Paul Jepson.

Former mayors Edward Farrell and Anthony Smith came to pay homage to Jepson, and council member Peggy Chapados was overcome with emotion as she presented Jepson with gifts to help him in his new position.

“I had a really good time today reminiscing and thinking about stories about Paul,” Farrell said. “He’s raised his children while working in the city of Maricopa. He’s a very hard worker and when I think of Paul there’s one word that comes to mind; relationships. This man is all about relationships. He’ll serve the city of Globe well as he has the city of Maricopa.”

During their brief agenda, the council unanimously approved a three-year contract with Wells Fargo Bank for banking and depository services and heard a presentation from Jepson on updates from the 2016 Arizona Legislative session. The council also approved a transfer of $12, 672 from the city’s contingency fund to the Maricopa Fire Department for professional and occupational services, but the vote was split 5-1.

“My main concern was taking action with contingency funds for things that have already been expended without that type of consideration,” council member Nancy Smith said. “Granted, it’s just $12,000, but it was a matter of principle for me.”

The council will reconvene on March 15 at 7 p.m.

Check out the many fun, interesting and educational things to do in Maricopa this week. For details on these and other events, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

SUNDAY

Mark Gray will perform a Gospel Concert at 11 a.m. at Faith Baptist Church along with his wife Mary.

Guy Pennacchio will perform a Sinatra tribute for Valentine’s Day in The Lounge at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino from noon to 4 p.m.

Apperson Duo will perform for diners in The Range and The Buffet at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino on Valentine’s Day.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is in the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce office at 7 p.m.

MONDAY

President’s Day (federal and state offices, financial institutions and schools closed)

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is in Maricopa Community Church at 7 p.m.

TUESDAY

Wired: A Social Media Networking Event for business owners is from 8 to 9 a.m. at Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship. RSVP requested

Secrets of the mLOAN will be hosted by intern Bryce Crosbie at noon at Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship.

Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library starts at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library. Meet every Tuesday for refreshments and conversation and get acquainted with the library. All ages welcome.

City Council Work Session is at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Council will discuss Rotary Park and the Comet transit system.

City Council Regular Session is at 7 p.m. at City Hall and includes a public hearing on a federal grant for the transit system.

THURSDAY

Copa Shorts Film Festival info session is a college wide introduction to the planned film fest of short subjects in Maricopa. Shelley Gillespie will be on Central Arizona College campus networks, including in B113 locally.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 .m. at Ak-Chin Social Services.

SATURDAY

Copa Color Run & Food Truck Fun Fest is from 2 to 5 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park. This is a 5K race/1.5 mile walk where athletes from all ages participate, making their way through several color stations where they will be covered from head to toe in a rainbow of colored powder.

Between the Covers Quilt & Nostalgia Show is from 4 to 8 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library with a quilt display, quilting demonstrations and the Jan Sandwich show.

Salt N Pepa perform in Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino’s free concert series in the amphitheater at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center starting at 8 p.m.

After receiving some complaints when no-weapons signs went up on city property, the Maricopa City Council began talking about the issue in work sessions.

By Yvonne Gonzalez

Maricopa officials may allow people with concealed firearms permits to carry guns on city property.

The discussion comes after city council members received emails from residents questioning signs that went up last year articulating a long-standing ban on weapons in public places.

A possible measure could impact public facilities like City Hall, Copper Sky Recreation Complex and Maricopa Public Library. The city plans to announce the date of a public hearing by mid-February, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Brown.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi said people in the community were upset about the no-gun signs, and he’s received emails from about a dozen residents on the topic.

“There needs to be a discussion about it,” Manfredi said. “The ultimate goal is to make sure we are representatives of the people who elect us.”

At a January meeting, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown said the “plethora of emails sent to us” does not necessarily represent the community’s overall opinion.

“It represents a certain group of people who want to carry,” he said.

City Manager Gregory Rose said it appears the town of Gilbert is the only municipality to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry firearms in certain public areas.

Councilmember Bridger Kimball owns guns shops and knows all sides of the debate on concealed carry on public property. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Councilmember Bridger Kimball owns guns shops and knows all sides of the debate on concealed carry on public property. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Rose told council members during a Jan. 19 work session that state law prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons on public property. A failed bill in the Legislature last year would have allowed people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns in Arizona’s public buildings.

“We’re still monitoring the Legislature very closely,” Rose said. “We believe strongly they will take action on this level.”

Gilbert’s personnel rules prohibit employees and volunteers from carrying weapons in the workplace.

He said safety is also a concern with a policy allowing concealed guns.

“We can’t control what happens in the private sector, but in a public setting we have a great deal of control and responsibility and liability in that avenue,” Rose said.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said there is a safety issue at play when officers arrive on the scene of an active shooting and the perpetrator is not the only armed person.

“I would not want to sit here and enable something that happened that went horribly wrong.” – Councilmember Peggy Chapados

Stahl said the rules of engagement do not change in an active shooter situation, whether officers are responding to a grocery store or City Hall.

“For them to have to determine who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy when a gun is being pointed … they don’t have that luxury any longer of announcing, ‘I am a police officer, drop the gun,’” he said.

City staff and part of the council expressed concern state law does not set training requirements for concealed weapons permits.

Manfredi said the Second Amendment gives people the right to own and carry a weapon.

“The fact that there’s any training involved with a concealed weapons permit is a good thing,” he said. “Should there be more? Probably.”

Councilmember Peggy Chapados said more people on both sides need to be given an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

“I would not want to sit here and enable something that happened that went horribly wrong,” Chapados said. “I’m not worried about the responsible citizen. I’m worried about the loose cannon or the person that just is in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes a victim of circumstance.”

Councilmember Bridger Kimball, whose business sells guns and trains people to use them, told council members at a December work session that Arizona is a constitutional carry state, where anyone at least 21 years old can buy and carry a gun.

He said the Department of Public Safety’s concealed weapons permitting system requires a background check and a signature from an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association, but does not specify training.

“If people had the means to protect themselves after 911 was called, then I think we’d be a lot safer,” Kimball told council members Jan. 19.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said she was disappointed in the lack of desire at the state level to demand training for those seeking concealed weapons permits.

A concealed-weapon holster is demonstrated by John Callaway II, owner of Arizona Law Dawgs. Maricopa City Council has been discussing in work sessions the viability of allowed concealed carry on city property. Photo by Adam Wolfe
A concealed-weapon holster is demonstrated by John Callaway II, owner of Arizona Law Dawgs. Maricopa City Council has been discussing in work sessions the viability of allowed concealed carry on city property. Photo by Adam Wolfe

“At this point, knowing how much training they get or are required to take, I’m not confident that a concealed weapon carrier is going to know what to do when the police arrive,” she said.

Mayor Christian Price is a concealed weapons permit holder. He said it would be great if there were more training, but that’s not the reality.

“A safe environment is completely subjective,” he said, whether a person feels safer with a gun or without.

Councilmember Henry Wade said he’s a gun owner himself. His 14-year-old nephew was killed by firearms in Los Angeles, he said, giving him and his family a different view on guns.

“When we’re having this discussion, we have to have that empty seat in the room for the person that’s not here, because no one is there to speak up for them,” he said, noting that whatever decision is made will impact all residents, not just those who have been emailing council members.

“I have concerns about allowing anyone in a public space with a weapon.”

Side-by-side view of how a holster in the small of the back is easily out of sight. Photos by Adam Wolfe
Side-by-side view of how a holster in the small of the back is easily out of sight. Photos by Adam Wolfe

This story appeared in the February issue of InMaricopa News.

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Northern portion of Pinal Active Management Area.

Water is always a concern for Maricopa residents. With agriculture in the area and a growing population, ensuring resources for the future is a top priority.

Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority (PCWAA) Executive Director Joe Singleton presented his organization’s purposes to the Maricopa City Council during their work session Tuesday night.

The PCWAA serves as a resource for the development and augmentation of water resources for the users and residents in Pinal County. The organization partners with cities to develop sustainable plans for water usage and management.

“Our goal is to advocate for comprehensive and responsible policy and to see that this area is represented at the various tables,” Singleton said. “Our goal recognizes that agriculture is the life blood of our area. We don’t really expect that to go away, nor do we necessarily want that to go away.”

Singleton believes the PWCAA can help Maricopa protect its resources for years to come.

“Without feeding a persecution complex, there have been times in the past that certain water users from our area have felt slighted somewhere between Maricopa County and Pima County,” Singleton said. “A lot of times it’s actually true.”

Tuesday’s presentation was to inform the council, and no vote or decision was made. Councilmember Peggy Chapados did request a few helpful tips for community members though.

“I think the first thing that all of us can do is generally be aware of the water we use,” Singleton said. “The other thing is to be aware of certain kinds of influx points for things.”

Maricopa Vice-Mayor Marvin Brown serves as a board member for the PWCAA. Other municipalities involved in the organization include Casa Grande, Coolidge, Eloy and Florence.

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The Maricopa City Council approved new “iSTAR” organizational values and an “iSTAR” logo during its Tuesday  meeting.

The values, which are “integrity, service, teamwork, accountability and respect,” were introduced during a work session in December, and the city manager’s office has been developing the criteria and logo since.

“The goal is for the [organizational values] to be used as a guide for all staff to work with and work within to get to our 2040 vision, as well as to be used in the evaluation process and recruitment of new employees,” Assistant to the City Manager Jennifer Brown said.

The council also approved Vice-Mayor Marvin Brown’s nomination of Ken Smart to the Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee. Smart is a systems engineer for Salesforce.com and was involved with developing the 2040 Vision as part of the 2040 committee.

“Ken served very well on the 2040 committee,” Brown said. “He is well versed in technology and business, and he loves serving, as best he can, the city of Maricopa.”

The council also approved an adjustment to the public safety dispatching pay scale, allowing dispatching to have the same shift-differential pay as other emergency services, and a request by the purchasing manager to approve expenditures exceeding $25,000 for Western Exterminator Company, Maricopa Sign Company LLC and Pride Group LLC.

Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex and Aquatic Center will be able to adjust their fee schedule to authorize the imposition and collection of fees for equipment rental and to approve adult enrichment programs and senior programs. The fee schedule will be adjusted based off equipment rented and the condition in which it is returned.

The Public Works Department also requested a change-order of $34,800 for Visus Engineering Construction, Inc. for construction related improvements on Lexington and Roosevelt Avenues. The project is near completion but had a drainage issue occur after recent storms. Immediate action had to be taken to avoid long term costs.

“We had significant rainstorms that showed us very clearly that the swells we put in on the side of the road were [not adequately] designed,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said. “We had to make changes to accommodate the drainage. Ordinarily we would wait for a change order to get approved, but we were in the last week of the project. To wait for a change order, it would’ve cost us nearly [twice] as much.”

The council unanimously approved the money, and the roads should be re-opened this month.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.

Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Henry Wade show the proclamation of Black History Month. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council paused in the middle of its meeting Tuesday night to kick-off Black History Month in Maricopa.

After the council completed roll call, Mayor Christian Price turned the microphone over to Vice-Mayor Marvin Brown and council member Henry Wade to honor local, state and national accomplishments by members of the African-American community.

“In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson got the idea of having a Negro History Week,” Brown said. “This went on for 50 years. In 1976, President Gerald Ford thought that something else should be done, so he expanded it to one month.”

Henry Wade then delivered the mayor’s proclamation declaring the month of February as Black History Month in the city of Maricopa.

“Whereas, the City of Maricopa continues to work toward becoming an inclusive community in which all citizens, past, present, and future, are respected and recognized for their contributions and potential contributions to our community, the state, the country, and the world,” Wade said. “Now, therefore, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, does hereby proclaim the month of February 2016 as Black History Month in the City of Maricopa, Arizona, and we urge all citizens to join with us in celebrating the significance of Black culture in its past, today, and going forward into the future.”

The crowd then moved from the council chambers to the City Hall lobby and had the chance to socialize and enjoy desserts before the City Council reconvened to finish their meeting.

“I love the theme for this month, and hopefully we can make it the theme for the year,” Price said. “’We can do it better together.’ I think that’s the motto of the city and each of us.”

Council chambers were packed for the proclamation and celebration. Photo by Adam Wolfe
Council chambers were packed for the proclamation and celebration. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Council seats that are up for election in 2016 currently belong to Mayor Christian Price, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Bridger Kimball and Nancy Smith. (City of Maricopa)

The Maricopa City Council approved deadlines for voter and candidate registration for the 2016 general election.

The primary election will take place on Aug. 30 and the general election will take place on Nov. 8. Voters will have to be registered within 29 days of each election. Any voter not registered by Aug. 1 will not be able to vote in the primary election, and any voter not registered by Oct. 10 will not be able to vote in the general election.

Elected officials whose terms end this year are Mayor Christian Price, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown and council members Bridger Kimball and Nancy Smith.

Resolution 16-01, unanimously approved Tuesday, reads, “Candidates seeking municipal office may obtain nomination papers, and other materials which must be filed by candidates with the City Clerk, at Maricopa City Hall 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza, Maricopa, Arizona beginning Jan. 20, 2016. Candidates must file nomination papers and other nomination forms no earlier than Monday, May 2, 2016, and no later than Wednesday, June 1, 2016 – 5 p.m.”

If candidates fail to file their nomination papers between May 2 and June 1, they will be unable to run in the 2016 general election.

The council also approved Ordinance 16-01 which changes the mayor’s term in office from two years to four years. The change will be adopted after the 2016 election.

“As you remember, Proposition 405 passed in 2014, which amended [the mayor’s term in office],” Maricopa City Clerk Vanessa Bueras said. “We wanted to hold off on amending it until now so that we wouldn’t confuse the citizens who look at our code and see we have a four-year term for mayor when in reality we had a sitting mayor with a two-year term.”

The council also discussed and approved a third amendment to the professional services agreement with the EPS Group adding $103,209.80 for the Edison Road Extension. The money was not budgeted for 2016.

“There is not a loss of any other project,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said. “It does cost $100,000 to the project, but the course of redesigning it will redesign the project so that instead of costing $5 million it will only cost $2.5 million.”

Other council approvals included a two-year contract extension with PFM Asset Management, L.L.C. for investment management services, the acceptance of a $60,395 grant for court victim advocate position, software program for advocacy, equipment and membership to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, and an easement for electric lines with Electrical District No. 3 for the Copper Sky Police Substation.

The council will reconvene on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

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Former mayor Kelly Anderson (center) and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (not pictured) were honored by the city council for securing funds for an overpass. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council took a moment to honor former Mayor Kelly Anderson and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for their work in securing the funds needed for the State Route 347 overpass.

“Kelly is one of the first mayors we had [in Maricopa],” Price said. “He’s lived here his whole life and this city is at his heart.”

Anderson played an integral role in gaining the funding needed to build the overpass. As the 2015 Arizona State Transportation Board Chair he helped secure the TIGER grant and other funding from the Arizona Department of Transportation in order to get the overpass built.

Anderson will be stepping down as the transportation chair on Dec. 18.

Kirkpatrick was also honored for her role in allowing Maricopa to receive the $15 million TIGER Grant in October. She was unable to attend the council meeting, but her deputy district director, Blanca Varela, stood in to represent her.

“Congresswoman Kirkpatrick has been a steadfast and tireless supporter for federal funding for the project,” Price said. “On May 25, 2015, Congresswoman Kirkpatrick led an Arizona congressional delegation letter signed by every member of the house delegation requesting a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover (TIGER) Grant in support of the State Route 347 grade separation project.”

The council later approved a transfer of $23,218 from the city contingency fund to the Maricopa Fire Department for a temporary position that will help organize the necessary maintenance to the department’s vehicles. Chief Brady Leffler said he hopes the department’s maintenance will improve by taking the administrative portion of the work out of the mechanics hands so they can focus on repairing the vehicles and keeping the department up to ADOT standards.

“Prior to my arrival we were simply having spreadsheets done by mechanics,” Leffler said. “It was in complete disarray and the routine maintenance for the vehicles was not being completed. It wasn’t for a lack of effort; it was because we didn’t have the resources to complete that.”

The council also approved the purchase of a 2015 Quantum 100-foot Platform Ladder Truck for the MFD in an amount not to exceed $1.3 million, the purchase of dispatch consoles and associated equipment for the Copper Sky Police Substation Communications Center in an amount totaling $269,092.82 (plus an owner’s contingency of $50,000 for a total of $319,092.82), and adopted the “Maricopa Area Transportation Plan Phase I” final report. This includes the Transportation Master Plan and the Regional Connectivity Plan.

The Maricopa City Council also unanimously voted to cancel the next scheduled meeting on Jan. 5, 2016. The council will not reconvene until Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Maricopa City Council received a dance preview from DSPA during Tuesday's meeting. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Tuesday night’s Maricopa City Council meeting appeared to be brief on paper, but took nearly two hours to sort through confusion over the 2016 Legislative Platform.

During their last meeting, the council approved the changes to the platform. The platform, which was approved by the state before being sent to city levels, changed the tax collection process for the city of Maricopa.

Maricopa residents previously voted to approve a city tax increase to $4.78. However, due to limitations from the state’s new 1-percent cap, the city can only collect $3.29. The changes to the tax platform prohibit the city from collecting the extra $1.49 approved by the voters.

The proposal that caused confusion among the council members came from City Manager Gregory Rose, who proposed an option that would allow residents to recast their vote to approve the extra tax revenue if a dire need ever presented itself.

“What we are asking the Legislature to do is simply provide [the council] with another tool,” Rose said. “We are certainly not seeking to pass legislation that would enact a tax increase. We are saying if there are extraordinary circumstances, the city council, as well as the citizens, would have the option of increasing the tax rate themselves.”

Councilmember Nancy Smith was concerned by the wording. She worried future council members would be able to take advantage of the proposed option.

“This is one of the arguments that I have a hard time buying into,” Smith said. “Even though I understand where you’re coming from and the voters approved it, but I think we have to be transparent in telling the voters that the voters approved it as it was listed on the ballot that it was not to be a tax increase.”

However, the issue was clarified by Mayor Christian Price.

“There is a political reality that this is a long shot,” Price said. “Even if it is a voter-approved referendum, which is what it has to be, the individuals can choose whether they want to tax themselves or not.”

Rose will adjust the wording of the proposal and bring it back before the council at another time.

The council also heard a presentation regarding the Maricopa Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education program, which would allow residents to travel and complete outdoor excursions through a program provided the Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex, and re-authorized an annual holiday signage program that assists local business in promoting and raising awareness and economic through Jan. 8.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.