Mayor Ginny Dickey greets Sanitary District Directors Michael Maroon, left, and
Gregg Dudash following her State of the Town address Tuesday morning.
State of the Town: Dickey talks progress, obstacles
Bob Burns, Reporter
Feb 5, 2020
“Fountain Hills is the place to be,” according to Mayor Ginny Dickey in making her second annual State of the Town remarks in an address hosted by the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Dickey was speaking to nearly 300 residents gathered in the ballroom at the Fountain Hills Community Center.
“Last year I suggested that the mayor and council ‘owe [citizens] our best, every time,’” Dickey said. “That is our motivation, whether it is at council meetings, during our regular interactions with staff, or communicating with residents and businesses about the important issues facing us.
“You deserve a safe and well-managed community, with fun activities and joyful experiences that make for life-long memories.”
Dickey outlined the effort by council, staff and law enforcement to identify and address numerous items to improve safety for pedestrians and vehicle traffic in the community.
“MCSO’s traffic enforcement increased tremendously over the past year,” said MCSO Capt. Larry Kratzer in a video portion of the address. “Deputies are focusing their efforts on stopping motorist for speeding, running stop signs and other moving violations that reduce driver and pedestrian safety.
“Last year deputies made nearly 1,000 more stops than in 2018, and issued 700 more traffic-related citations.”
Dickey added that council members have also pursued activities related to addressing suicide prevention, school safety, substance abuse, domestic violence and bullying.
“It is clear that it remains a priority for the town to provide the safest atmosphere possible,” Dickey said.
She also noted a survey identifying Fountain Hills as one of the two safest zip codes in the state.
Dickey acknowledged challenges in maintaining revenues adequate to meet town expenses; however, she applauded the efforts of staff and citizens in working together to manage those challenges.
“Those efforts take many avenues, and while we have been successfully managing much of the operation of the town, adequate funding is a stubborn and constant dilemma,” Dickey said.
In the video portion of the program, town Finance Director David Pock reported that last fiscal year the town was able to transfer $1.6 million in surplus funds to the Capital Improvement Plan.
Dickey has identified street maintenance as an ongoing issue in trying to manage costs.
“We’ve taken steps to identify longer-term solutions,” she said, but noted that studies have consistently identified the same issues.
“As a community, we must find a financial solution soon – we can’t pass that tipping point where it will be too late.”
When looking at the big picture of property and infrastructure to maintain, the $1.6 million surplus does not go very far.
“Staff, mayor and council have a large responsibility locating the available funding to address the needs of our community,” Dickey said. “We have applied for and received valuable grants to help with sidewalks, roads, parks, safety and more.
“Fountain Hills is highly dependent on sales taxes and state shared revenues, which while our percentage of the total decreases each year, the overall positive economic forecast for Arizona could make FY 21 better for us locally.”
Attracting new population to the community is a focus of economic development. The balance of the interests of the environment and business to create an optimum community atmosphere, though, can be a challenge.
“There is no doubt development will continue to influence our future direction as we close in our remaining available space,” Dickey said. “Deciding what may be best for the community, with a variety of views, remains a welcome challenge…an important one for the mayor and council to embrace.
“The preservation of our treasured views and natural desert surroundings, from Four Peaks to your local neighborhood, will always be a priority as that is the number one reason most of us chose to live and work here.”
Dickey acknowledged the past as she spoke of a better future for the community.
“Creating a safe, well-managed, welcoming community over these 50 years didn’t happen by accident,” Dickey said. “And no one person did it alone. Former mayors, councils, staff educators and community leaders – some we have sadly lost – each held a vital role.
“And even when we aren’t on the same page, say, about revenue, traffic or development projects, we have all of you – plus businesses, tourism and regional partners, utility providers, realtors, volunteers and public safety personnel – to thank for the vision and dedication to making Fountain Hills the place people will want to call home for the next 50 years.
“Fountain Hills is the place to be, and we all are the best ambassadors to deliver that message.”
Here is the video link to the compete State of the Town Address, 1/28/2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMfL8loaHeg&feature=youtu.be