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Maricopa City Council

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.

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The latest graduates of the Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy were recognized by the city council Tuesday night. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council accepted a $450,000 grant from the Ak-Chin Indian Community for the construction of the police substation at the Copper Sky Regional Park during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The grant is meant to provide the Maricopa Police Department with extra funding to complete the substation. The initial budget for the substation did not allow the department to equip the substation with all of the equipment in the initial plan. The extra funding won’t negate that deficit, but it will help the department add some much needed equipment.

“It’s a generous donation,” MPD Chief Steve Stahl said. “As you’re all aware, the budget for the police substation was woefully short. As a result, we had to make some cutbacks. Now, some of the very important parts of a functional communications center are being taken care of that weren’t going to be taken care.”

Those items include a noise wall and three 911 lines (plus backups) into the substation.

The council also took time to honor the 14 new graduates of the city’s fall Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy.

“The Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy is specially designed to help transform residents into the role of actively engaged citizen, ultimately building a stronger Maricopa,” Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown said. “This was our 12th session in the city’s history. Over the last 11 years, we’ve had 191 graduates.”

The graduates were required to attend five of the six academy classes, as well as a City Council or Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board meeting, and a city board commission or committee meeting.

The council also approved a two-year contract with Lincoln Financial for short-term disability insurance, a resolution declaring the “2015 Amendments to the Tax Code of the City of Maricopa” to be a public record and a submission ratification of a grant applications to the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program through Maricopa Association of Governments. The grant applications could potentially bring in $2,710,921 for approximately 5 miles of roadway paving projects. The grants would still carry a local match cost totaling $644,263 for the projects.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.


Former City Councilman Kelly Haddad is living a busy life in Chandler with his family: (from left) daughter Brooke, wife Jenny, daughter Mia and son Ethan. Submitted photo

Kelly Haddad was one of Maricopa’s original city council members, selected by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors after the city was incorporated. He then ran for the seat and became one of the first elected council members.

In total he served four and half years before losing the subsequent election, but those years were precedent-setting.

“I was proud of pretty much everything we did,” Haddad says. “We had a lot on our plate. We were under intense development. We were able to kind of come together – a bunch of guys who had never really done anything politically before – and get control of the growth and steer it in the direction that we thought was best for the city.”

He became involved in community service when Edward Farrell asked him to join the incorporation committee. That led to his initial interest in the council.

“I wanted to stay involved and make sure the city wasn’t taken advantage of by the development companies and make sure things grew right. I wanted to do the things necessary to make a community a community.”

After losing his re-election bid in 2008, Haddad and his family remained in Maricopa for a couple years before moving to Ahwatukee. Kelly and wife Jennifer have now been settled in Chandler for the past year.

They have three children: Brooke, 22, Ethan, 11, and Mia, 7.

Haddad maintains his own bookkeeping companies, something he has done for 15 years, and handles the day-to-day accounts for dairies and farms, a total of 12 companies.

Since Ethan was 3, Haddad has coached him in various sports. For the past four years, his son has played club baseball with the Misfits, and Kelly is assistant coach. Haddad is also helping coach Ethan’s football team.

“Between doing books for 12 different companies and coaching, we pretty much run seven days a week,” Haddad says.

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Council members chip in own funds for Senior Expo

Maricopa wants to prevent residents located inside the flood plain from paying for mandatory flood insurance or inflated prices.

The Maricopa City Council unanimously voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with Pinal County to allow the city to adjust its flood plain by using Copper Sky Regional Park instead of local neighborhoods.

“We are actually adding a good part of Copper Sky to the flood plain,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said. “It’s called offline storage, and if you think about the athletic fields, they’re dipped down. The idea is that if some day a big flood happens, they’ll flood first. The practical effect of that is we are eliminating the flood plain elsewhere in the city.”

Typically, a home can’t be built inside a flood plain. The Federal Emergency Management Agency adjusted the map for the flood plain last year, and existing homes were placed inside the flood zone. This change required residents inside parts of the Alterra subdivision to purchase flood insurance.

“FEMA, about a year and a half ago, redrew the flood plain maps,” Fay said. “This had the practical effect of adding a lot of houses to the flood plain. It made a lot of citizens of Maricopa have to start buying flood insurance. So we looked at things we can do and are still looking at things we can do to help the citizens of Maricopa.”

Residents in the area will be notified when their homes are no longer located in the flood plain.

Another item that sparked debate among council members was a plan to provide $5,161 to the Age-Friendly Maricopa Committee for the 2016 Senior Expo and Health Fair. Council members Vincent Manfredi and Nancy Smith were concerned about the amount being donated from the city’s contingency fund.

“The budget is something that concerns me,” Manfredi said. “I’d like to see that ($5,161) a lot lower. Maybe we can see if we can go out and get some sponsorship from the community.”

The issue came to a resolution when council member Peggy Chapados stated she would provide $1,000 from her personal contingency fund. Smith then pledged $500 and council member Henry Wade pledged $300.

The council asked the Rev. Arnold Jackson to continue to cut the funding figure, but moved forward with the new request of nearly $2,900 from the city’s contingency fund.

“We will definitely work to lower the budget we have here,” Rev. Jackson said. “We understand the financial constraints the city is in, so we will definitely work to get this as low as possible.”

The council also approved a contract with Eagle LIFT Inc. in an amount not to exceed $74,502 for street maintenance materials and services, a request for preliminary plat approval to subdivide a 164-acre parcel of land into 467 lots for the new Red Valley Ranch subdivision, the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control license application submitted by Bead and Berry, and a contract with Visus Engineering Construction, Inc., for construction-related improvements on Lexington and Roosevelt in an amount not to exceed $232,000 in the consent agenda. The council also approved amending their existing contract with Sunland Asphalt to add an amount not to exceed $341,663 for repairs to the asphalt on White & Parker Road between City Hall and Honeycutt Road.

“It’s pretty close to a ripping it up and starting from scratch [project],” Bill Fay said.

Fay explained the sub grade below the asphalt will not be changed, but the rest of the asphalt will be removed and replaced.

Aside from agenda items, the Maricopa Mayor Christian Price also proclaimed the week of Nov. 1-7 to be “National Veterans’ Small Business Week” in the city of Maricopa.

“I urge the citizens of Maricopa to pause to honor every service member who has ever worn one of our nation’s uniforms,” Price said.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.

The staid halls of Maricopa City Hall will be enlivened by local art. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa City Hall will gain some color after the city council’s decision Tuesday.

The council unanimously approved hanging art from local artists in City Hall.

The initial program will display pieces from 11 local artists. Each piece goes through a vetting process before it is displayed, and officials plan to rotate through various exhibits from local artists every two or three months.

“I, for one, would like to see that we get our foot in the door here,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “As you change this, [I want to] see that we have six months to a year to watch you change this over every two months or each quarter and see how it evolves. I’m excited to witness that.”

Local artists have been putting a program together for months in conjunction with the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, which holds monthly art exhibits. The approval is seen as a victory for local artists and cultural growth as a whole.

“Eight of the 11 artists in this portfolio were not born in Arizona or Maricopa; they chose to live in Maricopa and Arizona,” said Judith Zaimont, one of the coordinators for the Maricopa Arts Council. “We are looking forward to making our contribution (to the city) on a daily basis.”

The council also awarded $625 to the Maricopa Historical Society for their participation in the “Copa History Hunt.” Brent Murphree accepted the check on the organization’s behalf, and the council took a few moments to thank and honor the former vice mayor.

“I say that Maricopa would not be Maricopa without your contributions to this community,” City Councilmember Henry Wade said. “We certainly appreciate and applaud all of your efforts and everything that you’ve done to make Maricopa [what it is]. Thank you so much.”

The council also unanimously approved the purchase of 38 sets of protective equipment for fire fighters from L.N. Curtis and Sons, and a resolution to find the existence of a “slum or blighted area in the city of Maricopa, and declaring the necessity for redevelopment of such area.”

The Maricopa City Council will meet again on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.

Maricopa High School students celebrate Paint the Town Red launch with Maricopa City Council. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price proclaimed the week of Oct. 19-24 to be “Paint the Town Red Week,” and Oct. 23 to be “Ram Pride Day.”

The proclamation was in honor of Maricopa High School’s Homecoming Week. This year’s celebration is honoring the past 60 years of Maricopa pride, as well as celebrating the current student body.

The Proclamation read:

“Whereas, Maricopa High School is showing their Ram Pride in honor of Homecoming 2015; and

Whereas, community groups and individuals are showing support for our local schools by partnering with Maricopa High School student organizations to promote school spirit; and Whereas, by showing pride in our schools, we are showing pride in our students and their teachers and encouraging them to excel in the classroom and in their community; and

Whereas, local businesses will compete with each other to show the most school spirit during Paint the Town Red by creatively decorating their businesses; and

Whereas, Homecoming is a time to reflect on hometown memories and bring the community together to make new memories with safe, school spirit-themed fun; and

Now, therefore, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim Oct. 19-24 as “Paint the Town Red Week” and Oct. 23rd as “Ram Pride Day” and call upon all citizens of Maricopa to show Ram Pride by decorating their homes and businesses in our school colors and by supporting our students, teachers and school faculty.”

The Homecoming Committee will meet for the last time on Monday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. Any last minute adjustments to their plan will be ironed out at this time.

The current schedule of Homecoming Week events are:

•    Saturday, Oct. 17 – Laser Tag tournament at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center
•    Monday, Oct. 19 – Senior Class vs. Junior Class Powder Puff football game at 6 p.m. at Ram Stadium
•    Tuesday, Oct. 20 – Showing of “Friday Night Lights” at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center
•    Wednesday, Oct. 21 – RamFest 2015: Community festival, alumni football game and bonfire at Copper Sky Regional Park from 5 to 9 p.m.
•    Thursday, Oct. 22 – Staff vs. Student Mud Run at Copper Sky Regional Park from 7 to 9 p.m.
•    Friday, Oct. 23 – Homecoming Tailgate and football game at Maricopa High School starting at 6 p.m.
•    Saturday, Oct. 24 – Homecoming Dance

All 16 applicants for the Maricopa Youth Council were approved and given the opportunity to vote. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council approved 16 applicants for the Maricopa Youth Council, and gave all members of the program the opportunity to vote in meetings.

The initial plan was for seven new members of the Maricopa Youth Council, bringing the total to 14 with two alternates. The City Council adjusted the motion and unanimously voted to bring on all seven new members, but allow all 16 teens to have a vote.

“We had the opportunity to have a meet-and-greet with the present council and the new candidates coming in,” Council member Peggy Chapados said. “These kids have done some amazing things, and I would like to suggest that, since we only have 16, let’s make them all full voting Youth Council members. I really don’t know if there is an advantage to having two alternates. It only changes the quorum requirement by one person, and I’d hate to see two kids take this opportunity to be involved and have to sit out on some things.”

After ensuring the change was within the council’s legal right, the council unanimously approved all 16 applicants for the Youth Council and gave them each the opportunity to vote.

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting didn’t feature many votes, and ended within an hour. The time was dominated by members of the public speaking about upcoming events and celebrations.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price announced a proclamation for the city to celebrate Maricopa High School’s 60th anniversary. As part of the Homecoming Week celebrations, Maricopa homes and businesses are encouraged to “paint the town red” by decorating their establishments with MHS colors.

“As you may or may not know, one of the things we are always trying to do better here as a city is to have a better relationship with our school district,” Price said. “The reason is that, for those who do not know, they are different and distinct government bodies – different budgets and different governing officials. So although they have overlapping jurisdiction, their jurisdiction isn’t solely the city’s to control the district; and vice versa. In order for us to do and be successful, I think we have to learn and be excellent together.”

Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board President Patti Coutre joined Mayor Price at the podium while he proclaimed the month of October to be “Chamber for Good Month.” The month is meant to showcase local business and non-profits to promote economic growth by buying local.

The only other vote the council made was to approve the consent agenda. The unanimous vote approved 11 items including an intergovernmental agreement with Pinal County regarding the co-located administration and operation of limited jurisdiction courts and Pinal County Animal Care and Control for a two-year contract to enhance Public Safety services concerning animal care, control and enforcement.

The consent agenda also included purchase of a BMW R1200 RT-P police motorcycle from GOAZ for the Maricopa Police Department not to exceed $30,861.78, a 2016 Chevrolet Express 15-passenger van not to exceed $35,000 from Midway Chevrolet for the City’s Community Services Department and a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado double cab 4×4 pickup truck not to exceed $31,565 for the Public Works’ street maintenance division. The council also approved an interim presiding judge agreement with Judge Lyle Riggs.

The council will meet again on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.

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Cecilia Estrada-Ash was honored by the City Council for her contribution to the city of Maricopa as an Hispanic member of the community. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price proclaimed Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 to be Hispanic Heritage Month for the city of Maricopa during the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

To add to the occasion, Cecilia Estrada-Ash and Becky Bandin were honored in front of the council for their contributions to the city of Maricopa as Hispanic members of the community. Both were presented with a rose and received standing ovations from community members in attendance.

Estrada-Ash served on the industrial development board for the city and board of Maricopa Economic Development. She was president of the Maricopa Rotary Club and a member of the Maricopa Parks and Recreation and Libraries Committee that helped bring Copper Sky to Maricopa. Outside of work, Estrada-Ash is also a cancer survivor.

Bandin moved to Maricopa in 1959. She dedicated 38 years of her life to the Maricopa Unified School District. Two years ago, she retired and has spent her golden years residing in the city she has called home for over 50 years.

Lastly, Jake Romero came to the podium to deliver a speech on Hispanic Heritage and what it means to America.

“Most of us in this room are immigrants, children of immigrants or grandchildren of immigrants,” Romero said. “Our ancestors moved here looking for freedom, security and just a better life. They, along with people from all over the world, have formed this modern sociological successful experiment called America.”

The mayor was later joined at the podium by MUSD Governing Board member, and anti-domestic violence advocate, Torri Anderson to proclaim the month of October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Price proclaimed, “Whereas, this community recognizes the vital importance of increasing the general public’s awareness and support of agencies providing services to domestic violence victims and perpetrators; and whereas, we hold forth a vision of a community free from domestic violence; now, therefore, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim the month of October, 2015, as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the City of Maricopa.”

Once the floor opened up to the public, Maricopa Flood District Board candidate Dan Frank took the podium to remind residents of the board’s election taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7. Frank let attendees know votes can be cast the day of the election at servicing location or on early balloting provided through the mail. Only those who own property within the flood control district are eligible to vote for the board.

The council later voted to approve the purchase of three 2016 Ford Escapes in an amount not to exceed of $60,000 from Chapman Ford to be used by the City’s Building Safety division, provide consent to submit three grant applications to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Victims of Crime Act, Crime Victim Assistance grant in a total amount for the three projects not to exceed $300,000, approve the signing of a Letter to the Editor by Mayor Christian Price in conjunction with six other Mayors on the importance of participation by residents in a Special Census being conducted by the cities and towns of Maricopa, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, Queen Creek, Goodyear and Buckeye, and authorize the collection of fees for the rental of the aquatic center amenities at the Copper Sky Multigenerational Aquatic Center Recreational Facility.

The council also approved a seventh amendment to the existing contract with Jacobs Engineering Group for engineering services, but it was not unanimous. The approval increased the agreed amount to $233,000. Council Member Nancy Smith opposed the change in the contract to avoid dipping into the city’s contingency money. However, the rest of the board approved the item.

The Maricopa City Council will reconvene in three weeks on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Kehinde Ogunjobi (far right) of Ketalog Inc. gives the Maricopa City Council some bling to spread the word about its service.

By Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council honored Denyse Airheart for being named “One of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business” by Arizona Business Magazine, and Rocky Brown for being awarded the “Emergent Leader Award” from the Arizona League of Cities and Towns.

The majority of the City Council meeting Tuesday night was driven by members of the public. Although Mayor Price and the majority of the City Council who were in attendance debated a few issues, the spotlight was on the public speakers such as Judge Lyle Riggs, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl and concerned citizen Joe Matrishion, who came forth to address the council on the issues facing the community.

Riggs, who is justice of the peace, gave a moving speech about how the community has handled the recent tragedy involving Nate Ford, a teenager killed in a traffic accident. Riggs was thankful for the officers who took care of the Ford family after breaking the news of their son’s passing, and he thanked the community for rallying around the family and showing such tremendous support.

“We have suffered yet another tragedy in which a young life ended,” Riggs said. “This community has become too familiar with this. While this tragedy is neither greater nor less than the other recent tragedies, it is personal to me. Nate Ford and his family are personal friends of mine and of my family. While I do not pretend to speak on their behalf, I do wish to express my personal appreciation for the way this community responded.”

Stahl addressed the council regarding the planned redevelopment of the Heritage District. The committee for the Heritage District will hold a public hearing to discuss the grant awarded to Maricopa for redevelopment of the area. The grant was awarded for blight and slum prevention, but Chief Stahl made it clear the Heritage District is not viewed in this way.

“The city of Maricopa and the police department are holding a public meeting and hearing to discuss the reaffirmation of the Heritage District as a redevelopment area,” Stahl said. “We do not mean to indicate that the city of Maricopa in any way, shape or form views the Heritage District or any part of the Heritage District as slum or blight, only that it is a requirement of the grant to receive the funding so we can address the safety needs and safety issues of certain parts of that community.”

Matrishion stated he would like to see the timing on the train track crossing arms adjusted to allow drivers more time to stop. He was recently rear-ended while leaving Wal-Mart when he had to stop quickly to avoid hitting the arms after progressing through a green light.

The City Council, working on a short agenda for the night, approved a contract with Devau Services Inc. to provide payroll services for the Census workers. In doing so, the city hopes the process will run a bit smoother and the workers will be compensated with ease and efficiency. The Council also approved the purchase of two new street sweepers for a total cost of $485,494.69. However, the city is responsible for only about $40,000 of the total. Approximately 95 percent of the costs will be covered by an air-quality grant.

The only issue that hung up the council Tuesday night was the contract renewal with Albert Holler and Associates for Transaction Privilege Tax services in an amount not to exceed $36,000. Some members of the council were confused by the need for the contract, but due to extreme understaffing by the State of Arizona, there aren’t enough state personnel to take care of the issue. Instead of potentially losing more tax revenue due to delays by the state, the city will pay the contract and potentially receive near $150,000.

The next City Council meeting will be Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall.


ED3 General Manager Bill Stacy took a lot of questions from Maricopa City Council during his explanation of the solar policy. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

By Raquel Hendrickson

Three weeks after Electrical District No. 3’s new solar policy went into effect, General Manager William Stacy took some tough questions from the Maricopa City Council.

“We’re not looking to recover lost revenue,” Stacy said. “We’re just looking at recovering some of our fixed costs.”

Stacy gave a presentation on ED3’s “Distributed Energy Generation” (DG) policy during a work session Tuesday. Stacy’s explanation was frequently met with responses from council members that they “still don’t understand” or were “still confused.”

The utility and its rates are outside the jurisdiction of the city council. It is a nonprofit run by a board of directors.

Stacy previously brought the solar policy to the council during the Call to the Public section of a regular meeting May 27. That was when he announced an increase in the DG fixed cost rate from 70 cents to $3 per kilowatt hour for all new solar installations.

“There are a lot of claims out there that people think electrical companies are trying to kill solar,” Mayor Christian Price said.

Fixed costs pay for debt service, contracts, maintenance and depreciation along with the variables in energy use, labor and operations. They are costs “everybody has to pay” to maintain the system, Stacy said.

The recent jump in the number of solar customers created ED3’s concerns over the rate impact, power quality and reliability, and employee safety. ED3 has twice as many solar customers as other utilities in the state , based on percentage. He said 6.9 percent are on solar.

Stacy said ED3 has no intention of being an “alpha” leader in solar energy. “We like to be beta testers. We like to be second generation, that we know it’s going to work and not have problems.”

He said ED3 was “trying to be fair with everybody, including the solar companies” when it put its policy together. Solar customers, he said, need to pay their fair share of the fixed costs.

The loss of those fixed costs amounts to about $730 per solar customer. Those solar customers now number 1,397, making the estimated loss for ED3 more than $1 million a year, Stacy said.

He said non-solar customers are having to make up the difference.

As a solar customer, Price said he wanted to understand why his system would still be considered to have the same impact on the grid. Price said going solar was a financial decision on his part.

“I’m using less, therefore I’m clearly paying less,” he said.

Stacy confirmed that, showing the average non-solar customer using 1,545 kilowatt hours per month and a solar customer using 491 kWh. But they are similar in “demand.” Non-solar customers have 8.9 kilowatts of demand compared to solar customers’ 8.5.

“When it gets dark, they’re totally on the ED3 system,” he said.

Price said he was voicing the question of many people when he asked, “If I’m using so much less, why is demand not that great of a differential?”

Stacy said solar customers still use ED3 infrastructure – transformers, transmission lines, substations and generators – and solar only offsets electricity use in the daytime until about 4 or 5 p.m.

At night, he said, “We still have that demand on the system.” Residential rates do not have a demand charge at ED3. Salt River Project has an upfront demand charge on its bills, but Stacy said ED3 did not want to try that.

“We capture all of our fixed costs in the energy charges,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree there’s a cost to doing business, but by the same token we have a cost to manage our homes as well,” Councilmember Henry Wade said.

Councilmember Nancy Smith, who is not a solar customer, questioned the two other streams of revenue besides customer billing. She said potential solar customers have asked her why the two line-items on the property tax are not sufficient for the fixed cost recovery.

Smith said there was an operation and maintenance (O&M) tax and an O&M fee on the bill. Stacy called that a variable cost.

“I’m still struggling with that,” Smith said. “It seems to me O&M should be spread across evenly to all residents, and if the property tax is the way to do that, that seems like it makes more sense.”

The revenue from the tax levy does not cover all the O&M, Stacy said.

With solar generation systems having an expected lifespan of 20-25 years, Stacy said he was worried about inverters and automatic disconnects failing over time. He said the latter could cause backfeed on the line and endanger crews working on the lines.

ED3 has six power contracts. It buys “several million kilowatt hours” on the market each month, Stacy said.

“When a solar generator generates in excess, they’re really reducing the amount that we buy on the market,” he said. “The average price of that is 2.6 cents.”

That is credited as an “avoided energy cost rate.” He said the ED3 board of directors will review the rate every year.

Wade pointed to ED3’s new limit of 30 solar installations allowed per month, asking how the utility came up with that figure when the average over the past 19 months has been 40.

“We just tried to pick a number,” Stacey said. “That’s 360 a year.”

ED3 is capable of doubling its capacity for overall electric service, but Stacy repeatedly used the phrase “new paradigm” to describe the solar movement. He said utilities across the country have unanswered questions about how to deal with it and what its long-range impact will be.