Paradise Valley mulls public responsibility of private investment

Paradise Valley Town Hall is at 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

While in the midst of their annual budget forecast, Paradise Valley officials have created a laundry list of potential proposals eagerly awaiting assignment on the capital improvement projects list.

Items found on this year’s list include undergrounding of power lines, roadway improvements related to the new Ritz-Carlton resort and a sewer system assessment.

Following the Paradise Valley Town Council’s April 26 study session and regular meeting, the council regrouped around the board table to discuss identified capital improvement projects.

A capital improvement program is a multi-year plan identifying and prioritizing capital needs. CIP projects’ price tag must exceed $100,000 to be considered.

Accomplished CIP projects include:

  • Reconstructing Mockingbird Lane, Stanford Drive, 56th Street and 52nd Street;
  • Upgraded traffic signals;
  • Marquee Street ID signs;
  • Echo Canyon Parking/roundabout;
  • Sidewalks; and
  • License plate reader installation.

Town Manager Kevin Burke (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“This is really one of the biggest parts of the budget — the capital improvement program,” Town Manager Kevin Burke explained at the onset of the April 26 discussion.

“This year in particular, though, we have some pretty big parts that could be moving, so getting your feedback here is going to be important.”

Mr. Burke noted the CIP is re-evaluated each year.

“We look at the CIP in current year — if those things make the cut they’re on the team, there’s no bench players,” he said. “If you make the cut our goal is to implement everything in our plan.”

The CIP budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year is a total of 15.2 million dollars coming from three different funding sources, Engineering Services Analyst Jeremy Knapp explained.

“We’re going to carry over $2.2 million from the current fiscal year to next fiscal year for the Ritz-related projects. Those are previously committed funds in the current fiscal year,” Mr. Knapp said.

“We have $6.5 million worth of outside funding sources identified for next fiscal year from town residents, SRP, Ritz-Carlton’s commitment to roadway projects, as well as flood control district. Then the town’s remaining portion is $6.5 million.”

Mr. Burke says the town’s $6.5 million portion is the number staff has been building into their 10-year financial forecast.

The first set of projects the town discussed, the Paradise Valley Wash and Cheney Drive Flood Control, garnered the most discussion from the council. However, the kibosh came quickly during an astute observation of Councilman David Sherf curious as to why the municipality was paying for private projects.

“I’m still struggling as to why we’re taking money to protect private interests, when clearly I think they can get home owners insurance or flood insurance will cover this,” Mr. Sherf said. “It sounds like educational outreach. I can’t support paying all this money to protect a handful of homes.”

A $2.6 million allocation for potential preventative economic loss — curbing potential stormwater damage — is only for a 10-year storm event, Mr. Knapp noted.

“The $2.6 million dollars is per storm event, so a 10-year storm event we’re showing $2.6 million worth of damage that could be prevented with the improvements,” Mr. Knapp explained.

As Mr. Burke began to explain how the extrapolation of funds fits into the municipal workings, both Mayor Michael Collins and Councilman Paul Dembow joined Mr. Sherf’s opinion.

“Now there’s no way,” Mr. Dembow said.

Mayor Collins agreed, noting that he couldn’t wrap his head around the concept.

Councilman Paul Dembow (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Gainey)

“And, from a practical sense, doesn’t every one agree that if you had that kind of damage from 10-year storms you might hear a little bit more than the two storms that we had that were spectacular?” Mr. Dembow questioned. “This wouldn’t have helped at all.”

Mr. Knapp says he anticipated the council’s reaction, which creates an impact to the CIP by moving one of the Mockingbird projects higher up on the list. Mr. Knapp says this will allow all of Mockingbird Lane to be updated at once.

“As these studies continue to come in, we may continue to look at those areas because there’s matching funds available,” Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner said, talking about storm water impacts.

“I do believe that going forward when all of those watershed areas are mapped, there may be one or two — or more — areas where it would be beneficial to do some sort of storm water project. Again, I’m thinking about resident concerns — I’d still like to see those as they come in.”

Other projects Mr. Knapp gave a brief overview on included a shared-project with city of Scottsdale to assess sewer systems, Lincoln Drive sidewalks and Golf Drive improvements.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at or follow her on Twitter at

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