CIP: Paradise Valley leaders identify top projects

The Paradise Valley Town Council March 9 discussed capital improvement projects and budget. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

As temperatures climbed into in the early 80s Thursday, March 9 and while many in the Valley of the Sun where trying to catch a piece of the sunshine, members of Paradise Valley Town Council were huddled around a table looking at multiple projects that could shape the municipality over the next five years.

At the March 9 study session — a time when take-out sandwiches and carbonated water fuel the minds of local leaders — town staff looked for the proverbial head nod for projects identified throughout the town.

Paradise Valley Engineering Analyst Jeremy Knapp walked the local governing board through the 47 projects identified for the CIP from fiscal year 2018 to 2022.

The projects were broken into:

  • Facility improvement;
  • Master plan/studies;
  • Sidewalks;
  • SRP undergrounding;
  • Stormwater;
  • Streets;
  • Technology;
  • Traffic signals; and
  • Waste water.

Projects that were set aside for further discussion included ones that coincide with other ongoing studies or projects, such as sidewalk improvements and the pedestrian and bicycle master plan. Council was poised the question of both project relevance and the scope of the identified projects.

Engineering Analysis Jeremy Knapp talking to town council. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The capital improvement projects fund is drafted to be $5 million during fiscal years 2018-22. This amount does not include potential grants or other contributions, which Town Manager Kevin Burke explained at the study session.

“We want to start with an overview so you understand the context that we’re building this budget in,” he explained. “We’re really excited about this idea of looking ahead 10 years and seeing how things are coming together.”

Two underlying focuses identified are to create a longterm sustainable budget and to pay down the town’s unfunded liability of public safety pensions, which has reached $18 million, Independent records show.

Town council adopted a resolution on Oct. 13 to confirm the board will try to pay off its unfunded liability in three years as opposed to its current 22-year plan.

The aggressive pay-off plan effects the General Fund operating balance by decreasing from $23.1 million in fiscal year 2018; to $15 million in fiscal year 2019; and $12.2 million in fiscal year 2020 before beginning to build up back up again in fiscal year 2021.

The town generates most of its revenues from the hospitality industry, Paradise Valley Director of Administration and Government Affairs Dawn Marie Buckland said.

“Our resorts continue to experience overall good occupancy rates, but in the most recent STAR report we saw that was leveling out,” she said.

Immediate additions to the town’s revenues are going to be the new Mountain Shadows and ANdAZ resorts, Ms. Buckland said, with the Ritz-Carlton accommodations opening a few years down the road.

Changes noted to this 10-year forecast include there not being a loan from the General Fund to the sewer fund, Mr. Burke said. Additionally, he recommended looking at the town’s fleet and need for facilities repairs.

“One of the things I’ve seen in different organizations, and certainly saw it when I walked into this organization, was if we needed something for fleet or needed a repair for facilities, we just tend to budget it that year,” Mr. Burke said.

“We look for the money, if we had it we’d spend it on the repair, and if we didn’t we would have to delay the capital improvement. That’s really not the best way to manage our assets. We need to take care of what we have.”

The town council will be accomplishing their goals and more, by taking a long-term approach to this process, Mr. Burke said.

Other manager recommendations included the fire fee; Tatum Boulevard repaving; additional staffing needs; and health insurance for town staff.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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