Nearing the halfway point this calendar year, here’s an update on efforts underway in Town Hall.
As you’ll recall, I was committed to following these concepts as your Mayor:
*Earning trust through transparency;
*Respecting our hometown values;
*Making responsible funding decisions.
Your Council has been engaged in a host of efforts to pursue these goals and practices, which are publicly accessible, as all meetings are on Channel 11, live-streamed and linked on the town website. (This includes the retreat, special meetings and the State of the Town address.)
Town Manager Grady Miller recently identified five areas for consideration:
*Addressing public safety;
*Meeting facility/infrastructure needs;
*Identifying sustainable revenue and economic development opportunities and
*Attracting/Retaining topnotch personnel.
How are we doing?
Public safety is our number one priority and it appropriately represents the majority of the budget. From speeding and code enforcement to serious criminal activity and property damage, our police are working to be more “community-based” in addressing concerns, response times and overall communication. MCSO and Rural Metro are in daily contact with staff and elected leaders, regularly reporting at meetings. Our new fire station is open and properly equipped. I and other town leaders also attended a school safety conference to understand the latest strategies for campus security.
We’re working diligently on another significant budget item – infrastructure – to protect town assets. This year nearly 50 streets have been mill/overlaid, a small percentage of the miles needed, and we continue to use the road study as a guide to strategize investments. We’re filling potholes in areas where we don’t have funding to rebuild.
Council is addressing downtown intersection improvements where we’ve seen the most incidents. We completed repairs to Golden Eagle Park from the 2018 flood. We are applying for grants, “stepping up” sidewalk infill and addressing other improvements, particularly as we begin our General Plan process.
The FY2020 budget included positions in key areas of code enforcement, procurement, buildings, accounting, revenue collections and streets. In August, Council will consider raising the sales tax by .3 percent and initiating a public safety fee. This $185/year will be used to address rising costs of police and fire protection (the current $36 environmental fee will be zeroed-out) while holding meaningful meetings with both contract providers to identify actions to mitigate those increases.
The Town has new development, finance and economic development directors. While staff retirements and other changes can be unsettling, they also offer opportunities for reorganization and responsibility dynamics.
Things are moving on the economic development front. We’ve been reviewing several proposals, preliminarily approving a local hospital. Council, staff and I have attended multiple ribbon-cuttings and Chamber events in celebration of our business community. Identifying the right environment to encourage growth is a focus of Council discussion.
Behind the scenes, local and regional participation is important. We’re building strong relationships with the school and sanitary districts, and our tribal neighbors, through communications and joint meetings. We’re active with entities including Maricopa Association of Governments, League of Cities and Towns and Valley Metro – all to ensure that our regional position is known and supported. We participate in a variety of other organizations including the East Valley Partnership, East Valley Mayors and Greater Phoenix Economic Council, all necessary so Fountain Hills is represented in decision-making that affects our revenue, neighborhoods, or even flight paths over our community.
Staff and Council are committed to the public, but at times not able to provide the timely services or answer the questions that residents have. I’m working with the manager to identify new ways of doing business, while he and staff professionally manage an incredible workload. As a General Law community, we must work within the statutes that govern us while finding creative ways to add value to our town. Sometimes we’re confined, but always open to conversation and ideas to do our work better.
Family and fun events remain major features of our hometown. We’ll commemorate our 30th year of incorporation in December 2019 and the 50th anniversary of the Fountain in December 2020. These events will bookend a year of celebration to include residents, businesses, clubs, you name it! We’re just starting, organizing volunteers to lead the charge. Please consider participating!
Town Talk Tuesdays continue, next on June 25, and are planned this fall. I ask two councilpersons to join me to allow the community to discuss any issue they wish in an open forum. This remains part of my effort to address trust, transparency, and focus.
Councilmembers bring specific skills and passion for our town. As we enter the summer, I’m convinced that your elected leaders are doing their best to meet your expectations to keep Fountain Hills a wonderful place to live. It’s a pleasure serving with them. Never hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. We want to hear from you!