The Town Council has approved the action by the Strategic Planning Advisory Commission (SPAC) to reprioritize its strategic goals from 2017.
The council voted 7-0 to accept the commission recommendation without modifications at its March 19 regular session. The SPAC review of the goals came following the rejection by voters of a proposed primary property tax last May. The modified objectives take fiscal conditions into account.
The number one goal of the plan is to maximize economic development opportunities in Fountain Hills. The strategic objectives aligned with that goal include creating or utilizing tools to market economic development opportunities in the community. Development of a community branding and marketing plan and exploring higher education opportunities are the priority tasks for that objective.
Objective two, related to the economic development goal, is to address population and residential density issues in order to sustain existing and future commercial business in town. Rezoning to address undeveloped commercial and allow for increased density in some areas are the assigned tasks related to this objective.
Marketing to promote tourism and generate hotel stays and visitor expenditures is objective three, related to economic development. Creating new and expanding existing community-supported destination activities is the primary task for this objective.
Goal number two is to ensure that infrastructure in the community is well maintained and safe.
Objective one toward this goal is investment in the maintenance of the town’s infrastructure. This is being done by developing and implementing investment plans to maintain and bring town facilities to desired standards.
The promotion of environmentally friendly initiatives is an objective related to infrastructure. This is being accomplished with the initiation of a comprehensive environmental plan currently being developed.
The third goal of the Strategic Plan is attracting families and working professionals to the community.
Land use planning to create adequate residential options to attract families is an ongoing effort by town staff.
Marketing and promotion of the community using social media and a marketing plan that includes family branding are objectives related to this task.
Ensuring that Fountain Hills finances are stable and sustainable is the fourth goal of the plan.
Staff is tasked with making sure all identified reserve funds are adequate. Also identifying revenue options is an ongoing challenge. This includes increasing revenue to meet community needs and addressing projected shortfalls.
Strengthening the community and improving quality of life is the fifth primary goal for the plan.
Partnering with the school district in efforts that promote the town’s education system is a key objective for this goal. District officials should be involved in overall community marketing of the strength of the schools.
The town should take steps to work with other communities in efforts that achieve common priorities.
The town has a well-established volunteer program designed to leverage the talents of many skilled citizens.
Many of these challenges for both the town and school district have a lot to do with demographics, according to Vice Mayor Art Tolis.
“I think this plan is right on target,” Tolis said in the meeting. “There is a concern related to an aging population.”
Mayor Ginny Dickey said the schools are a big part of the community and what helps draw people to the town.
“I’m pleased to include education in this mix and to reach out to all citizens, regardless of age,” Dickey said.
Councilman Mike Scharnow praised the commission for its work.
“This was not created in a vacuum,” Scharnow said. “The things we want to achieve are based on what the citizens have told us.”
That communication with citizens is ongoing and will continue. Later this year SPAC will be working in conjunction with the Fountain Hills Cultural and Civic Association to survey citizens in another community vision process.
This information will be integrated into the next major Strategic Plan update to be developed in 2020.