THE GOODYEAR GOLD MINE
Opinion Piece by Jen Barber, Goodyear Resident
No doubt Goodyear is growing quickly. It seems mid-Goodyear is the center of a lot of action this week. Mid-Goodyear has seen land sales well over appraisal price and we've taken a look at taxpayer dollars being spent here.
HYBRID LEASED NEW-HOME OPTIONS COMING TO GOODYEAR
LET'S GO FOR A WALK DOWN VAN BUREN...
GOODYEAR MUNICIPAL COMPLEX LAND FOR LEASE OR SALE?
Monday, June 5, 2017
During a Goodyear City Council Special meeting, Council convened into a private, Executive Session to "discuss leasing or selling City-owned real estate." Council also was to "discuss the City's position on negotiations for the lease of portions of GMC" or - what we can guess - is the Goodyear Municipal Complex. We say "guess" because the discussions are not made public and we were unable to confirm from the City if "GMC" is the GMC we know to be the Goodyear Municipal Complex. (If there's another GMC in Goodyear we've overlooked, please contact us.)
However, if the City is looking to sell or lease portions of the land in the Goodyear Municipal Complex, it could be quite interesting. From what we understand, the City of Goodyear agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars OVER the appraisal price of the land which we know as the Goodyear Municipal Complex just two years ago.
Let's back up a minute.
In December 2014, Goodyear City Council unanimously voted to approve the purchase of approximately 7 acres of property at $4 per square foot. We went back through City records and found the following discussion and staff notes on this.
Goodyear's municipal complex is the area near Van Buren Street and Bullard Avenue. It's home to the Goodyear Library, Police Department, 911 Center, Court, Fire Department, etc.
The 911 Center property was purchased in late 2012. This additional 7 acres - approved in December 2014 - was needed to build the new, and quite frankly much needed, police department.
At the December 2014 Council Meeting, the City said it evaluated a number of sites and scored the properties against the needs and wants of the City being…
This team who chose this property also kept the Council’s priorities in mind when selecting this property. The criteria included
This location scored highest based on its transportation corridors and connectivity north and south in the city.
Linda Beals, the Real Estate Coordinator for the City of Goodyear said they went back and forth in negotiations several times with the seller, “The bottom line was, what we were able to come up with, was a negotiated sales price of $4 a square foot.” Beals says the sales price was within the range of sales within the City. The closing costs were estimated at another $10-15,000.
Beals stated the huge savings on this property was the infrastructure. Some of it had already been brought in by surrounding developments.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION ON THE PURCHASE PRICE
The appraisal was $3.00 per square foot with a total amount of $915,000. And we negotiated a $4.00 per square foot?” ~Councilmember Campbell
Councilmember Stipp said - at the time in 2014 - they were hearing from businesses that the rents are higher in Goodyear. “But, so is the quality of the community and quality of the centers they buy and etc.”
Mayor Lord said it "makes sense" to acquire this land adjacent to existing city properties.
"It actually is at the request of our citizens. When we did the City Center plans, the residents were very clear that they did not want the police department or any other facility near the City Hall. They wanted them in their own complex. And although we would all like to see it at a lesser price, but that’s market, and you have to say, “Hooray for Goodyear” that we are at market because that’s the market that’s attracting homes and businesses," comments Mayor Lord.
THE GOODYEAR "GOLD MINE"
Given the developments this week, it seems the seller was right. The location is a "gold mine" and expansion of the area is happening quickly.
We do not know why the City wants to potentially sell this land. Of course, would the City get its money back on this land? We'd assume so... giving the NexMetro sale went for $4.19 per square foot. But, it's anyone's guess. And... that's assuming "GMC" under discussion is the Goodyear Municipal Complex. (For clarity, we are only guessing Monday's discussion of GMC was in regards to the Goodyear Municipal Complex. Goodyear would not confirm this.)
The notice shows Goodyear intends to raise its Primary Property Taxes by 2%.
THIS PROPOSED INCREASE IS EXCLUSIVE OF INCREASED PRIMARY PROPERTY TAXES RECEIVED FROM NEW CONSTRUCTION. THE INCREASE IS ALSO EXCLUSIVE OF ANY CHANGES THAT MAY OCCUR FROM PROPERTY TAX LEVIES FOR VOTER APPROVED BONDED INDEBTEDNESS OR BUDGET AND TAX OVERRIDES. ~City of Goodyear
JEN'S TWO CENTS
This spring, voters re-elected Mayor Lord. Councilmembers Pizzillo and Campbell are going into their 3rd four-year terms. And Brannon Hampton was elected in a runoff to fill outgoing Councilmember Sharolyn Hohman's seat. The inauguration is Monday, June 12th. We wish them all the best.
We should note, Hampton's challenger Sara Gilligan went to Council on June 5th speaking in favor of moving City elections to the same election cycle as the State of Arizona. Those are held in the fall of even numbered years. This has been discussed at length in the City of Goodyear over the years. In 2011, the Goodyear Votes grassroots group pushed for Goodyear to move its election cycle to no avail. I have no horse in this race. But, I will say, running for Council as a candidate can be outrageously expensive. (We found candidates in the spring election for Goodyear City Council spent anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000. That's for a job that only pays $9,2000 a year.) And the cost to the taxpayers for spring elections is questionable. So, I'll grab my popcorn and wait for the City's response on Gilligan's request.
An attractive city needs landscape improvements, art, and all those pretty things. But, $240,000 for library and City Hall hardscape and landscaping improvements seems high. With the dire need for fire stations in Goodyear, I'd like to see the City reserve more funds to get these projects completed first. The Goodyear Capital Improvement Plan shows funding for the much needed station in west Goodyear not kicking in till 2021-22. Parks are nice. But, I'd like to see more priority for funding safety first. Just my two cents.
For some historical reading regarding the land around the Goodyear Ballpark: Link
Take a look here at the First Amendment to the Estrella Development and Fire Services Agreement.
In June 2016, we were tipped that the City's agreement with local developers had lapsed. Our sources told us the agreement was "allowed to expire" and that funding for a second fire station was not in place.
At the June 27, 2016 meeting, City Manager Brian Dalke publicly stated he spoke with a Newland representative just that week. His specific words were...
And talking to Bill Olsen this week, there has been an understanding that the bones of an agreement are in place. It can be argued some of those elements may or may not apply. The fact of the matter is one of the partners - if you will - back to the earlier agreement is no longer there. So CantaMia for example - is AV Homes - will be part of any discussions.” ~GOODYEAR CITY MANAGER BRIAN DALKE, JUNE 27, 2016
Let's emphasize "WILL BE PART OF ANY DISCUSSIONS." Future tense.
Whether talks had been in the works for years prior or not... It appears from public commentary that the real push to update the agreement was prompted last summer.
The amended resolution dated January 24, 2017 now shown in a snapshot states:
In March 2016, Goodyear City Council participated in a work session to discuss the FY17-26 Capital Improvement Program. About half way through the meeting, the presentation turned to "General Funded Programs - Projects Requests." City staff initially recommends fire stations be listed on deferral for future impact fees.
We added fire stations to your list simply because of your recent conversations just to put it up here and let you know it’s on our radar… but that we know the study is pending and we’ll wait for that project. ~Lauri Wingenroth, Budget and Research Manager
This document - Goodyear's Capital Improvement Plan for FY16-25 - shows funding for a Fire Station at Harrison and Citrus for FY22 and a Fire Station in Estrella in FY22. An additional Fire apparatus wasn't in the plans till FY23.
FY16 and FY17 funding totaling $66,366,257 was slated for:
We have NEVER stated the City had "no priorities for" nor "didn't care" for fire service as we've been accused throughout various social media threads. I'm personally aware that our City Council and Mayor support public safety as shown by their previous actions over the years. This has been a process in the works since December 2015, (and most likely sooner than that), and these things do take time to work out. The fact is, the priorities for the Estrella station were moved up after 2016 Council meetings and the fire station study this past year. I'm not sure why this is being made out to be a bad thing by social media followers as it's really good news for Estrella and Goodyear residents. Many of us - and myself included - are thrilled about Council's decision to listen to the people to make this happen. Their ability to collaborate with other leaders and the developer to move up the construction timeline is a win for everyone.
2017 AND BEYOND
It should be noted again that Goodyear has several fire station needs and projects in the near future.
In December 2016, we also read over the entire tax payer funded, 210 page fire station study to see all needs for fire service in Goodyear. It also recommended "building a new fire station in west Goodyear and having it operational by the year 2022. The optimal location is at Citrus and Yuma. An additional engine company would be expected to operate from there. This station would have a workload similarly modeled to other stations in the city." Operational by 2022 means funding for this station needs to be moved up, as well.
Tomorrow night, as it turns out, Goodyear City Council will hold a Special Meeting with the City Attorney and City Manager "to provide instruction/direction to City Attorney and City Manager
regarding City's position in connection with contractual negotiations associated with
West Goodyear development agreements." This meeting is private and we can't be 100% sure this is related to fire service. But, we're hoping to find out more regarding a west Goodyear fire station this spring. We'll keep you posted.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017
5:30PM Special Meeting
6PM Regular Meeting
Location: 14455 W. Van Buren Street, Suite B-101, Goodyear, Arizona 85338
Meeting agendas and to Watch Online Here
Jen's Note: This is a blog opinion piece about my take from the Goodyear City Council worksession and in no way a representation of all residents in Estrella.
This worksession, February meeting, was very well run and I think our leaders are closer to making some headway on the topic. Unfortunately, the amount of time and tax dollars about to be spent is controversial.
Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi was given the opportunity to make a full presentation regarding fire service in our All-America City. He thoroughly explained the triggers and thresholds for building new fire stations. He also discussed where the need currently is for improved fire service.
The two main locations currently under review for building new fire stations are West Goodyear and Estrella... as discussed in this blog a month ago.
TRIGGERS AND THRESHOLD REQUIREMENTS
What are triggers and thresholds? They are the requirements which must be met before building new fire stations within various areas around our dispersed city.
In 2008, triggers and thresholds for building new fire stations were set at:
ESTRELLA FIRE SERVICE HISTORY
As it stands now, we have one fire station in Estrella. Fire station 182 is located on Estrella Parkway and Spring Drive near the Estrella Mountain Church.
Fire station 182 had a call volume of 756 calls in 2015 and an average response time of 6 minutes and 42 seconds.
If you recall from our last report, the main concern under review is service to south Estrella where Montecito and CantaMia are located. This area is referred to as the area south of the "Ray Road Alignment."
In 2015, 58% of the calls to this area were reportedly MORE than 8 minutes from Fire Station 182. Calls increased 34% from 2014 to 2015 with a total number of calls to these southern villages being 147 annually. More than half of those calls were for EMS, not fire. This is the second of three triggers.
Additionally, Buckeye Valley Fire District responded to 24 of these calls with a response time of 9 minutes and 58 seconds.
The only "trigger" being met for building a new fire station would be response times over 8 minutes because the number of calls to this area is just 147 annually... not the 500 which need to be met. The distance from Fire Station 182 to the area south of the Ray Road Alignment is 4 to 5.1 miles - under the 6 mile "trigger."
ANOTHER AREA OF CONCERN IN ADDITION TO ESTRELLA
West Goodyear is creeping up on meeting triggers and thresholds of its own. While no "triggers" are currently being met, the growth trends are showing it won't be long before they are.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
The cost to build a fire station and staff it looks like this...
Goodyear's Director of Finance, Larry Lange, reports the city has $17 million dollars in GO bonding in which the voters already approved. So, instead of raising property taxes, the city can use these dollars to build the stations and use impact fees to pay for debt service. Since bonding is already approved, the city really needs to figure out a way to pay for the ongoing operating costs.
Additionally, census funds can be used. AND the city reportedly holds $660,000 from Newland Communities and builders already collected to be used for constructing a fire station.
The Goodyear fire chief and staff essentially came to the worksession to discuss the option of conducting another study to see if the need is "now" for building these two fire stations. And boy... that questions rang some alarms. Here's a snapshot of the discussion.
I guess the reason why I have a hard time getting my hands around it cause to me what should drive it, at least in my mind, is response times and what triggers happen to be. We’re not sure… We’re going to do a study today and 2 years from now, the whole growth pattern may change.” ~Councilmember Pizzillo
Councilmember Joe Pizzillo says triggers should outweigh a study.
Vice Mayor Sheri Lauritano, who lives in Estrella, has concerns about the redundancy in mutual aid and thinks a study would be good... and wants the study to include police service as the last study was conducted in 2008, a time when Goodyear was seeing exploding growth.
We are getting a lot of medical calls.. and they say, ‘This might be a way to go’… I don’t know what the calls specifically are. But, I think the more information we get if we’re going to study it - let’s study it once - and get a plan because I know fire stations don’t magically appear in six months. We need some sort of plan in place as we grow.” ~Vice Mayor Sheri Lauritano
Councilmember Joanne Osborne, who was not present for the January worksession, had some fantastic comments on this. She highlighted the concern of having response times over 9 minutes to Montecito and CantaMia in Estrella. She agrees with Councilmember Joe Pizzillo that staff should pin down triggers. She also points out that by the time the study is conducted, the next trigger of calls for service could be met.
That’s critical to live saving. And that’s critical to brain damage, you know, any chance, you know, of having something be fixable. You’ve hit that for that threshold. And so, you know, it really does concern me when I see this eight minutes.” ~Councilmember Joanne Osborne
Councilmember Osborne also asked if it would be feasible to partner with Maricopa County or the City of Buckeye to build the Estrella fire station south of Ray Road.
Councilmember Sharolyn Hohman says studies are typically money flushed down the toilet. However, in this case, there's been so much growth and change since the last study in 2008 that it might make sense to conduct a fire service study.
It would make sense that those plans may not be valid today, either, when we’re looking at fire and police for that matter.” ~Councilmember Sharolyn Hohman
Last month, Councilmember Bill Stipp gave great insight into reasonable triggers and thresholds. While he was not at this worksession, he was able to provide input by phone.
1st, Councilmember Stipp asks Fire Chief Paul Luizzi what the real purpose is of conducting a study.
To establish the proper location for stations. To establish the proper response and trigger threshold for construction of new stations. And really what we should be using now as our current response time, goals, benchmarks, and baselines, as we start to move forward and kinda see the city in a light of the way it’s being constructed now.” ~Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi
So, if we’ve already identified twice now what the locations are based on the projected growth… I’m having a difficult time seeing what a third study is going to tell us that we don’t already know regarding the location of the stations.” Councilmember Bill Stipp
Chief Luizzi defends the reason for the study.
Is it valuable looking at the current station locations and are they in the right spots? And our future plan’s growth - are we currently going in the right areas?” ~Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi
Then Councilmember Stipp points out the obvious.
We know our police chief and our fire chief could want to say, ‘We need more,’ because we have allowed growth to occur in the pattern that we have and try to serve the community. So my concern is this report that we’re now going to PAY for - and I’m gonna tell you right now is going to be $50,000 and will police will be $65,000 to pay to have this report done - and it comes back and tells us that we’re ‘very short’ - what are we going to do then? Not that we don’t want to ask the question because we’re afraid of what the answer is, but we have to be prepared that intuitively we all know that we’re short and we all see the financial picture particularly as it’s laid out in the CIP that we’re not even talking about having, um, the development money till the early ’20’s… those could be five years too late.” ~Councilmember Bill Stipp
Councilmember Stipp is in favor of putting the $65,000 needed for this study toward other needs.
We gotta figure out a way to get ahead of this because… we’re maybe - what? - a year, year-and-a-half away, from just on the calls the western part just meeting on the number of calls. And it’s going to be more and more challenging up the hill [Estrella] when we get to south of Ray Road as a result of the redundancy with one outfit - or one station - not gonna be in. So nothing down there. And if you got a critical nature and it takes 10 minutes to get there, we’re gonna know what the result of that’s going to be. So, again, I think it’s real important to figure out a plan from a finance standpoint of how all this comes together.” ~Councilmember Joe Pizzillo
Councilmember Joanne Osborne laid out the potential timeline for any real action to take place.
Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord pointed out the council and city staff need find a "balance" in the budget.
What a shame we didn’t partner with Buckeye on a fire station.” ~Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord
Mayor Lord is right on the money. The City of Goodyear is known for - and has been recognized for - its ability to partner with other cities and agencies to make great things happen here. While she knows there will be public criticism, she believes the majority of council is asking for finite stats.
This is a very difficult, difficult situation to make decisions on.” ~Mayor Georgia Lord
This is a horrible decision to have to make. My concern is that the city continues to approve building permits resulting in more growth while these communities get closer and closer to tripping these triggers. Mayor Georgia Lord caps the discussion with this....
We did do this. When we have new communities, we notify the buyer, via their contract, on an addendum, what the response time was. And that we have a trigger of so many homes being built that that’s when it had to take place. So you have to be careful that you’re not gonna kill development. Cause if you kill the development, there goes your entertainment, there goes your retail, there goes all the things that you’ve all asked for and want. So it’s a really delicate balance here on how we end up with this.” ~Mayor Georgia Lord
THANK YOU GOODYEAR for setting the tone for the meeting so the fire chief could be heard and not rushed. I also encourage the city to bring the next fire station "discussion" to Estrella so more residents will attend and be involved. We have one Estrella resident on the Goodyear City Council and decisions like this deserve more resident input. I appreciate your concern on this matter and taking the time to continue the discussion. Thank you.
GOODYEAR CITY COUNCIL WORKSESSION FEBRUARY 29, 2016 HERE
ESTRELLA MOUNTAIN RESIDENTS BLOG FROM JANUARY MEETING HERE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Barber is a Goodyear resident resident of almost 20 years and a retired broadcast news journalist. Involved in various nonprofit and city organizations since 2008, Barber has a unique view of what's happening in the West Valley of Arizona.