By Terrance Thornton for Scottsdale Independent
Despite the confirmation that matching funds may never materialize, Scottsdale City Council approved both General Fund and Transportation Fund contingency transfers totaling $10.4M to begin work on five capital improvement projects.
Council approved five separate resolutions focused on preparing planning documents to potentially thwart flood waters from ravaging different corners of the municipality and the contemplation of an east and west connection along Happy Valley Road.
Scottsdale Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield was the only dissenting vote citing her concerns that no other government agency — in particular Maricopa County and its flood control district — have allocated dollars to any of the pursued Scottsdale projects.
Back in March, the projected capital improvement budget heading into fiscal year 2017-18 was approximately $37.5M, of which the majority of those dollars were earmarked toward two projects: a renovation of the Vista Del Camino Park and subsequent facilities at an estimated cost of $17.5M; and a Granite Reef Watershed study to the tune of $5.2M.
The current five-year estimate for staff pursued projects totals $156.3M, city officials reported back in March.
City officials say there is about $25M— including $16.4M from the General Fund and about $9.9M in the Transportation Fund — in undesignated, unreserved taxpayer dollars.
Following the contingency transfers approved Oct. 17, it appears the city is left with about $14.5M in unreserved taxpayer dollars, which is aside from its General Fund reserve balance.
The five projects approved for funding are:
- A $2M General Fund transfer for what city officials have coined the “Rawhide Wash Flood Control COS.”
- A $1M General Fund transfer for what city officials have coined the “Reata Wash Flood Control Project.”
- A $3M transportation fund transfer for the east and west connection between Pima and Alma School roads along Happy Valley Road in North Scottsdale.
- A $4.4M modification to the approved budget for the capital project along Pima Road to be paid for through the usage of additional transportation funds.
- City staff is now approved to redefine the scope of the Vista Del Camino Park and Indian Wash Project, which will now include a master planning process.
Scottsdale Treasurer Jeff Nichols says the approved budget transfers were meant for projects that would likely come with matching funds from Maricopa County and, in some cases, neighboring municipalities that would also benefit from the capital improvements.
“We are exploring matching funds and their impact,” he said of the projects identified for budget transfer.
“We say this because we have an arterial lifecycle program and we need to come up with about $71M to get a $172M match from some Prop. 400 funds. We also have some significant flood control projects that have some fairly large matching funds associated with them as well.”
Nichols contends there are 47 different policies guiding city officials through the annual budgeting process for capital projects to be pursued within city limits.
“We are figuring out what the total needs are of the capital needs in both the General and Transportation funds in particular,” he said. “What is our current ability to deliver on those needs and what the deficit is and how do we approach that?”
No Matching Funds?
Each member of Scottsdale City Council lauds the effort of the city staff in coming up with a workable capital improvement plan without bond dollars, but Councilwoman Littlefield says the flood control resolutions have her questioning the logic of the budget transfers.
She says she has met with county officials, and they say dollars aren’t in the coffers for these efforts — and they are not included in the county’s five-year CIP plan.
“I have a problem voting for the $3M from the General Fund balance for these two projects,” she said during the public hearing.
“They have created, for me, some serious doubts of these projects right now — maybe not later, but now. Our current plans may conflict with current regulations, requirements and needs from FEMA,” she said.
“There is no matching money. These are people who specialize full-time in water and flood control issues — and they understand them. These projects will be extremely expensive, and I don’t believe the city has the funding to implement them without the additional debt.”
“It is absolutely a true statement the county has not allocated any funding in their five-year CIP for either of these projects,” said Dan Worth, Scottsdale Public Works Director, but noted both community interest in each project pursued and county officials’ desire to see the flood control projects come to fruition.
Meanwhile, Councilman David Smith says he believes the funds will materialize — as they do with matching funds.
Read more at Scottsdale Independent.
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