Smith began the evening by recognizing the Maricopa Police Department’s Volunteer of the Year, Terry Clark, who is credited with creating the Citizens On Patrol program, as well as coordinating other volunteer activities. A short video then followed, recognizing new faces around City Hall, such as City Manager Brenda Fischer, Finance Director Tim Duensing, Police Chief Steve Stahl, and Code Compliance Officer Marcus Mendes.
The mayor then turned his attention to the City’s financial health noting that incoming revenue is exceeding projected expenses so far this year. The 2010 Census, which officially increased Maricopa’s population from around 15,000 to 43,482, brought $5M in annual revenue to the City’s coffers. Sales tax collection for the current fiscal year, through January, was at $4.69M, which surpassed full-year budget projections. “I think shopping local is really working,” Smith commented.
Public safety was the next topic on the agenda. Smith noted overall crime statistics, which show Maricopa has the second-lowest crime rate in the Phoenix metro area. Only Gilbert ranks lower. Smith proudly noted, to applause from the audience, that when it comes to robbery and aggravated assault crimes, Maricopa has a 100% arrest rate.
Turning to Maricopa’s Fire Department, the mayor noted that units are on the scene of 91% of calls within six and half minutes, and 49% are reached in four minutes or less. A new fire station, to be constructed on the old Estrella Gin site in the Heritage District, is expected to reduce response time even further.
On the subject of housing, Smith noted an increase in the number of occupied homes since January 2011, of approximately 400. Stats show local homes are spending less time on the market and are considered more affordable. This has prompted an influx of winter visitors, many from Canada, which in turn, prompted a recent visit from the Canadian Consulate.
Smith’s next topic was commercial development. City records show 248 new business licenses issued the past year, more than 20 per month, and the City expects more than $150M in total capital investments to occur over the next two years for projects planned or under development.
After a short break, Smith continued the evening by talking about some of those upcoming projects. One is located at White-Parker and Bowlin Roads and will be the home of Maricopa’s new City Hall and police headquarters. Another is at John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road and will be the site for a new park featuring a recreation center, municipal pool, and sports facilities.
Private development plays a key in Maricopa’s immediate future as well, according to Smith. The mayor announced that the new Banner Health facility, located on Porter Road behind Walmart, is almost complete and will being seeing patients in April. Central Arizona College recently broke ground on a Maricopa campus that will accommodate up to 20,000 students in its initial phase. Also, the Holiday Inn Express, which was first announced at last year’s State of the City, was issued its building permits on December 29th and is expected to break ground sometime in the next few months.
The mayor also touted a new project, just announced last week. Waste Management, in conjunction with Garick LLC, will be opening Maricopa Organics, a facility which will collect yard and clean wood waste and process it into biomass wood fuel, which will be sold primarily to Frito-Lay to run its Casa Grande facility. In addition, Garick will produce compost and mulch for local use.
Smith also commented on nearby developments, which will benefit Maricopa, such as the currently under construction Ak-Chin Entertainment Center. This faclility, located next to the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, will house a movie theatre, bowling alley, and arcade, and is expected to provide 200 jobs to area residents.
In closing, Smith noted that this State of the City address will be his last as he is not seeking re-election, choosing to run for the Pinal County Board of Supervisors instead. “It’s been an honor and privilege to serve you as mayor,” Smith said. “I believe in Maricopa and I believe in the greatness and strength of our people.
(Howard Waggner/Maricopa360.com) – Mayor Anthony Smith gives his fourth and final State of the City address on February 23rd, 2012.