The article discussing the reprioritization of Strategic Plan Goals that appeared in the March 27 edition of The Times did not accurately portray the emphasis placed on the various goals.
While The Times believes the information in the story is accurate, it was not presented in a manner that appropriately reflected the emphasis of the goals. We apologize if this was misleading. The following is a different perspective on that story.
The Town Council has approved action by the Strategic Planning Advisory Commission (SPAC) to reprioritize its strategic goals from 2017. The new perspective of the plan puts the focus on “ensuring that Fountain Hills finances are stable and sustainable,” which is Strategic Plan Goal #4.
SPAC is choosing to emphasize this objective in light of the failure of a proposed primary property tax at the polls last spring.
The staff objective related to this goal is identifying sustainable sources of revenue to maintain funding for town core services. The tasks involved in achieving this include: 1) making sure all identified reserve funds are adequate; 2) identifying revenue options, which has become an ongoing challenge for the council; and 3) finding ways to increase revenue to meet community needs and addressing projected shortfalls.
Another item that SPAC is choosing to identify as a high priority relates to ensuring that infrastructure in Fountain Hills is well maintained and safe.
The primary task involved in this objective is to develop and implement an investment plan to bring streets, buildings and parks up to established standards.
Also, as it relates to the goal of maximizing economic development opportunities in the community, SPAC is proposing an attempt to address more favorable economic demographics. The staff objective is to rezone unplatted land for greater density and affordable family housing. This is an objective that can be achieved only as opportunities present themselves.
The council voted 7-0 to accept the commission recommendation without modifications at its March 19 regular session. The modified objectives take existing fiscal conditions into account.
Many of these challenges that face the town and also the 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.
“The seven appointed members of the Strategic Planning Advisory Commission (SPAC) are monitoring progress toward the current plan’s strategic goals,” says Dana Saar, the Commission’s chair. “Our recommended priorities are based on current resources. Should those resources change, we will once again recommend to the Council our revised priorities.”