The Times has asked the three candidates for Town Council and Mayor Ginny Dickey to respond to a series of questions regarding issues related to town government.
The questions posed are as follows:
1) There is a lot of discussion currently regarding the actions of law enforcement. What steps, if any, should be considered to assure adequate protection of citizen rights?
2) Revenue is usually a topic of discussion for elections. Late last year the council increased the local TPT and early indications are that was some help to the town coffers. However, Murphy’s Law took over with the pandemic/recession, so it may be difficult to see exactly how much the TPT increase will help over the longer term. With that background, how does the council need to plan for its budgeting, operations and capital outlays?
3) In recent years some proposed developments for Fountain Hills have been controversial and divisive in the community. The General Plan Update with a 10-year horizon is on the ballot for November. Should the town look at the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and the General Plan to assure there is a proper balance of regulation to protect both citizens and prospective developers?
Candidate responses will be run on a weekly basis beginning with Gerry Friedel in this week’s edition. His responses follow.
Question 1: I believe the rights of all citizens should be protected and the town should proactively partner with law enforcement to ensure that happens every day. The town, for example, recently issued a joint statement with MCSO (see Town of Fountain Hills website) regarding detailed next steps, practices and procedures that need to be followed in our town.
To ensure these practices and procedures are followed, the town receives a monthly MCSO report and the MCSO captain attends council meetings, which are open to the public, to discuss and address any issues.
The best way to ensure adequate protection as well as mutual respect is for all of us to stay engaged, to communicate our concerns, and be responsive to issues as they arise.
Question 2: Revenue is always an important topic, especially with the many pending and potential capital improvement projects. We have a 10 year road improvement plan, maintenance at the fountain and some major wash/flood improvement work that must be addressed.
While the TPT may add some needed revenue to help address these projects, we still must look at the other side, expenses. The council must always practice fiscal responsibility, not just during financially challenging times. It is always necessary to review our contracts and expenditures to see if there are ways to get a better return for our spending.
If the TPT doesn’t bring the revenue and expenditures in line, the council will need to review alternative revenue sources and/or evaluate and re-prioritize the capital improvement projects.
Lastly, I have always believed that the council should be more proactive with attracting more businesses to town and providing the environment for those businesses to survive and thrive. This is especially important given the abundance of empty commercial space in town. I am eager to bring new ideas and perspective to the council in this regard.
Question 3: The General Plan (found on the Town of Fountain Hills website) provides the basis for the town’s land use, development and conservation policies and represents basic community values. It is general by nature where zoning regulates present development that will be allowed through specific development standards. It is always prudent to review our zoning to ensure that it is current.
We should always honor our obligation to protect residents who purchased property under certain zoning rules while also encouraging appropriate development of remaining parcels that will contribute to the growth and revenue of the town. I believe that both of these potentially competing elements can be achieved. We should never discount or disregard the voices of the people we are obliged to represent.