By Dana Trumbull
On May 16, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors (BOS) met in special session. The agenda included a tourism video and discussions of pavement damage restoration fees and penalties, progress on the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority and FY 18/19 budget development. Supervisors also met in executive session for legal advice related to the ACC hearings regarding Johnson Utilities.
Pinal County Economic Development Manager Tim Kanavel introduced Louie Moses, president of Moses, Inc., an advertising agency contracted by the county to help promote Pinal for economic development.
According to Moses, the firm discovered, while promoting Arizona tourism, that of every ten visitors, two would come back to live in the state either part or full time, creating a double impact on the economy with tourism dollars and, later, as residents and taxpayers. “That’s where the work force and the constituents happened over the course of a decade.”
“When Tim and I talked originally,” said Moses, “we talked about how Pinal County is unknown as a place with natural beauty and wide open spaces. This (video shown during the meeting) is just the first two minute film we’re going to do.”
Kanavel explained, “A lot of this will be aimed at our Mexican audience. We’re really involved at the Arizona-Mexico Commission. We want to bring tourists up here, because that means sales tax dollars. It’s a revenue issue, but it has to do with [attracting] business, too.” Companies, Kanavel asserts, want to relocate to a place where their workforce will want to bring their families to live.
Celeste Garza, from Pinal County Public Works, discussed a draft amendment to the development services code regarding road right-of-way use. The amendment is intended to preserve the life of streets by minimizing pavement cuts to hot-mix asphalt roadways.
The fee structure associated with the amendment was developed using other local governments as a benchmark, as well as an evaluation of the additional taxpayer burden that would otherwise be incurred to maintain roadways. The fee would be included in construction permit costs.
According to the proposed amendment, no street cut would be allowed within one year of completion of a new roadway, with the exception of emergency utility repairs. Within two years of construction, renovation or reconstruction, varying fees would be assessed, ranging from $530 – $5,310 per square yard, based on the size of the street cut. Additionally, a 2” mill and asphalt overlay would be required when rehabilitating the road after a cut is made.
Fees would decrease over the next 3-6 years, with applicants able to choose to perform a 2” mill and asphalt overlay in lieu of fees.
Violations could result in a formal stop work order issued by Pinal County Public Works, fines and, if necessary, further civil action.
PRTA General Manager Andy Smith updated the Board on the progress of the Regional Transportation Authority. “Currently we’re working on a multitude of administrative activities: organizational structure, technical advisory committee, citizen advisory committee, and so on.”
Tena Dugan, from the city of Maricopa, has been selected as the chair to the RTA board. Representing Apache Junction, Dave Waldron will chair the Board of Directors, while Mike Weaver serves on the Technical Advisory Committee and Lareme Fessler is on the Citizens Advisory Committee.
The city of Casa Grande has fronted capital, along with the County, to begin design work on some of the planned transportation projects, while funds from the voter approved half-cent sales tax are held in escrow pending litigation.
The RTA is also pursuing some potential federal grant opportunities and private-public partnerships to help mitigate costs.
One of the two lawsuits brought by organizations trying to stop the collection of the new transportation excise tax has been dismissed. The courts are expected to issue a decision on the remaining Goldwater lawsuit by the end of June.
County Manager Greg Stanley commented on the budget development with a reminder that the budget forecast includes a 4 cent reduction in the property tax rate, moving toward the BOS goal of a 12 cent reduction by 2021. Planners have also set aside 2½% for salary increases.
As a part of the discussion, Sheriff Mark Lamb explained his office’s request for an additional budget capacity of $2 million. Of that, $1.7 million is identified as required additional capacity based on the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) study, completed January 2018, which concluded that, in general, PCSO provides “quality law enforcement,” but also included 90 recommendations for improvement. Changes will require multiple years for implementation.