Tag Archives: covid-19

August 2020 • Newsletter

We began our new fiscal year on July 1, with Council on recess and many families on road trips, etc., so it seems fitting to kick-off my August newsletter by saying “welcome back!” I am honored to represent Surprise, and I want to reiterate my commitment to serving you. I am confident that we have a united and talented team of staff and leadership in place to continue to move this city forward.

Primary Election Results

Earlier this week, Arizona held its primary election. Surprise voted on candidates for Mayor and City Council Districts 2, 3 and 4 with terms ending December 31, 2024. Voters choose a District 5 Councilmember for a 2-year term ending December 31, 2022. The winners will assume office the first meeting in January 2021 after receiving the official oath of office. Below are the preliminary election results as of August 5:

Mayor:

Skip Hall, 24,784 Votes (96.92%)

Cheryl Packham (Write-in Candidate), 407 Votes (1.59%)

District 2:

Alyson “Aly” Cline, 4,772 Votes (63.77%)

Wendell Fountain, 2,683 (35.85%)

District 3:

Patrick Duffy (Incumbent Councilmember), 2,891 Votes (68.31%)

Greg Norberg, 1,316 Votes (31.1%)

District 4:

Ken Remley (Incumbent Councilmember), 2,499 Votes (98.62%)

District 5:

Jack Hastings, 2,063 Votes (59.15%)

David Sanders (Incumbent Councilmember), 1,331 Votes (38.16%)

Kawika Henderson (Write-in Candidate), 71 Votes (2.04%)

All results are preliminary until all of the ballots dropped off at City Hall on Election Day and all Provisional Ballots are counted. A final ballot tally is expected by August 24, if not sooner, from the Maricopa County Elections Department.

Amazon Building in Surprise

Amazon recently closed escrow in Surprise! They are locating a brand new 150,000 square foot “last mile delivery station” at the Surprise Rail Plex, just south of the entertainment center near Uptown Alley on Litchfield Road. Initial estimates are that this will bring a minimum of 300 new jobs. The new operation will serve the northwest Greater Phoenix market and will bring tremendous employment, capital investment and revenues to the community! Construction is expected to begin this first week of August.

Virtual Ribbon Cutting Contest Finale

Over the last 5 weeks, 101 Surprise businesses have been featured for their virtual ribbon cuttings! Each week, the community voted for their favorite virtual ribbon cutting video. The top five businesses are going head to head this week, and the winner will be announced the week of August 8th. Please visit the Economic Development webpage to see the winner: https://www.surpriseaz.gov/988/Economic-Development

The finalists are:

1:12 Nutrition – 13833 W. Bell Rd
Barro’s Pizza – 15403 W. Greenway Rd
Joe Streckfuss Plumbing – 11340 W. Bell Rd
Spencer’s Place – 15431 W. Waddell Rd
TEAM 4 Kids – 13601 N. Litchfield Rd

Surprise Community Outreach Program

Applications are now being accepted for a City Council-led initiative that assists community organizations in providing programs and events that benefit Surprise residents. The Community Outreach Program offers funding assistance to organizations for programs, events, and activities that enhance the overall lifestyle of our community. Council set aside up to $100,000 for FY2020-2021 in an effort to support and grow qualified local programs and events that improve the health and welfare of Surprise residents.

To be considered, applicants must be a 501(c)3 organization or partner with a 501(c)3 verified agency. The maximum award per applicant is $10,000. According to program guidelines, funds are distributed by reimbursement through an invoice process. For more information including the application, complete program details, and eligibility requirements, visit surpriseaz.gov/communityoutreachprogram or please contact Jodi Tas at 623.222.1330. Applications will be accepted through Monday, August 31, 2020.

Water Resource Management Director Named

Surprise City Manager Mike Frazier has announced that Lee Lambert will serve as the city’s new Water Resource Management Director.

Lee has served as Acting Director of the Water Resource Management (WRM) Department since February, stepping in from his role as Assistant WRM Director.

Lee has worked for the City of Surprise since 2005, starting in project management roles that included work on multiple Capital Improvement Projects. Lee was named Water Manager in 2013 and was promoted to WRM Assistant Director in January of 2019. Previous to the city of Surprise, Lee held positions with the Maricopa County Planning Department and Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Lee was selected as the permanent WRM Director after a very competitive process that included candidates from around the country.

Water Resource Management Director Lee Lambert

Planning & Zoning Commission Vacancy

Are you looking to volunteer for the city? The city is currently accepting applications for the Planning and Zoning Commission. This particular vacancy will serve the remainder of the current term set to expire on June 20, 2023. Applications are available for pick-up at the City Clerk’s office from 8 am through 5 pm, Monday through Friday at City Hall (16000 N. Civic Center Plaza). Applications are also available online at www.surpriseaz.gov/boards. Please submit the applications in person or via email to clerk@surpriseaz.gov.

COVID-19 Update

Given the pandemic, we continue to face challenges in all aspects of our lives, but I am confident that we will overcome these setbacks. We will return economically stronger and with much hope as a closer and tighter community. None of us could have predicted what 2020 was going to bring. COVID-19 demanded swift action at every level of government; action that I know was appreciated by many in our community. I have made it my highest priority to ensure we get through these uncertain times and keep our community safe. I’ve worked in consultation with the Governor’s office, Maricopa County, public health experts, hospital administrators, our City Council, City Manager and City Attorney to make some tough decisions. We have a moral obligation to protect public health and avoid transmissions that would cost residents their health and put extra demands on medical resources.

May 2020 • Newsletter

Governor Doug Ducey announced a new Executive Order amending the Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected order. In short, the Governor plans to continue to put public health first and proceed with a step-by-step approach to reenergize our economy guided by facts and health officials. Some of the key provisions of Executive Order 2020-33 – Returning Stronger include extending a revised “Stay Home, Stay Healthy Stay Connected Order” until May 15, 2020; retail businesses opened following specific guidance in the order:

  • Offer the sale of goods curbside, walk-up, and/or in-store by appointment only starting Monday, May 4
  • Offer in-store sale of goods after establishing and implementing protocols and best practices to address COVID-19 beginning Friday, May 8.

For more details, please see the Governor’s press release: https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/04/updated-guidance-arizonans-businesses

On May 4, following continued positive data trends, Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order allowing cosmetologists and barber shops to resume appointment-based services this Friday, May 8 and restaurants and coffee shops to resume dine-in services with physical distancing measures on Monday, May 11. The Governor’s Office also released additional guidelines to keep customers and employees safe.

For more details, please see the Governor’s press release: https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/05/governor-ducey-issues-updated-guidance-restaurants-coffee-shops-barbers-and

In anticipation of Governor Doug Ducey’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” Executive Order expiring May 15, the city is preparing to reopen select recreational amenities that allow for appropriate physical distancing, including tennis courts, pickleball courts and dog parks.

  • Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex will reopen May 15. This is for open play only and by reservation only. Residents may call 48 hours in advance to reserve a court and non-residents 24 hours in advance. Classes and programs continue to be canceled until further notice. To make a reservation, please call 623.222.2400. Hours are 7-11 a.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday – Friday and 7-11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Retail and concession areas will remain closed. Please follow posted signage at the facility, continue to follow all CDC guidelines and practice physical distancing. Check our website at surpriseaz.gov/tennis for more information and USTA recommendations on play.
  • Pickleball courts at Surprise Community Park will reopen May 15. Park hours are 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. Please follow posted signage, continue to follow all CDC guidelines and practice physical distancing. Check our website at www.surpriseaz.gov/229/Parks-Facilities for more information and USAPA recommendations on play.
  • Dog parks will reopen May 15. Park hours are 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. Please follow posted signage, continue to follow all CDC guidelines and practice physical distancing.

The city is maintaining all other facility and amenity closures and program cancelations until further notice for health and safety reasons, as well as to mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19 to the city’s budget.

See the full press release, here: https://bit.ly/35Qn5Nn

Budget FY21 built with flexibility in mind

The Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) City Manager Recommended Budget, with a focus on flexibility amid the to-be-determined economic impacts of COVID-19, is available online for public viewing.

The Finance Department presented the budget to City Council at their April 21st Work Session.

The FY2021 recommended expenditure budget is $388.3 million, with transfers of $40.7 million, for total use $429 million. This amount sets the ceiling for how much the city has the authority to spend.

The city will continue to monitor future COVID-19 related financial impacts and adjust the budget as needed to deliver a balanced budget, as required by state statute.

The recommended budget includes $111.2 million for planned Capital Improvement Projects. This includes $40.7 million to begin voter-approved 2017 GO Bond projects including, Greenway Road; Fire Station 308; and the Public Safety Evidence and Readiness Center. $31.2 million will fund critical water and sewer projects.

The budget also includes three full-time employees to support water reclamation and collections services and 1.5 employees to support fleet operations. These positions have no new impacts to the General Fund.

The budget process kicked off in October 2019 and a budget retreat was held on March 27, 2020. The FY2021 budget forecast developed between October and February was revised as a result of the Presidential National Emergency Declaration issued on March 13, 2020. Learn more about this in the story below.

A public hearing and Council’s Tentative Budget adoption was held at the May 5 Regular Council Meeting; with final budget adoption scheduled for the June 2 meeting. These public meetings begin at 6 p.m. They are carried live on Surprise TV and online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv. You can also follow the budget process and see the City Manager’s Recommended Budget at www.surpriseaz.gov/budget.

City prepares for COVID-19 financial impacts in current budget

While revenues have exceeded budget estimates for the first eight months of current Fiscal Year 2020, the tax data for March through June are months away from being released by the state.

These are the months we expect to be among the most impacted by COVID-19 business closures, event cancelations and service reductions. Our Finance Department will monitor the numbers closely to keep our budget balanced through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2020.

The City Manager has already authorized some cost-controlling measures. They include:

  • A hiring freeze on non-critical vacant positions;
  • Reduced city department operating budgets;
  • Furlough of some part-time seasonal and part-time temporary employees

With the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its impacts to public assembly and our budget, all recreation programming and events are suspended or closed until further notice. This includes summer camps, youth and adult sports leagues and camps, swim lessons, swim teams, open swim and large gatherings such as 4th of July.

All recreation centers, parks and recreation office, and aquatics facilities remain closed to the public until further notice. The city’s libraries, operated by Maricopa County Library District, also remain closed. They do offer online eMedia options and a new curbside pick-up program at Northwest Regional Library. Learn more at https://mcldaz.org.

Surprise parks, walking paths and open space remain open to the public; and fishing is allowed at the Surprise Community Park Lake. Physical distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control apply in these areas.

Some playground amenities remain closed until further notice: playground equipment, splash pads, restrooms, basketball courts, and skate park.

Our budget strategy will allow us, if needed, to identify future service reductions, and additional furloughs for those employees whose daily work will be significantly impacted by additional program suspensions.

We also have the flexibility in place to re-open some amenities, if the negative impacts to the budget are less than anticipated and public health guidelines allow.

Veterans Reflection Circle wins national and state awards

The city of Surprise Veterans Reflection Circle has been selected as an American Public Works Association (APWA) Public Works Project of the Year for 2020, as well as the APWA Arizona Chapter Project of the Year, in the category of Structures that cost less than $5 Million.

The Veterans Refection Circle is an outdoor garden and reflection space that was dedicated on November 11, 2019 in honor of late Surprise resident and combat wounded veteran Brian Mancini.

Mancini spent his life serving his country and helping other wounded veterans find healing. The Veterans Reflection Circle is located in the Surprise Community Park (next to the fishing lake) at 16089 N. Bullard Ave. The site was selected as a tribute to Mancini’s love of nature, fishing and quiet self-reflection. These were important components to the non-medicinal healing philosophy he shared at his nonprofit Honor House – a place where wounded veterans can go for therapy and counseling. The space pays tribute to Mancini and his legacy by telling his story and providing a place for veterans to reflect, find healing and feel the community’s deep appreciation for their service and sacrifice.

The design for the Veterans Reflection Circle was completed at no cost to the city by local design companies Logan Simpson and WERK. The generosity and heart of these firms inspired the idea to invite members of the construction and landscape communities to become partners in honoring our veterans by donating products and services to help bring this incredible project to life.

The city shares these awards with the following partners who contributed to the project:

82 Bravo Land Survey & Mapping, Ace Sandblasting, Airpark Signs, Allstate Rent-a-Fence, Arizona Wholesale, Atwater Construction, Castle Steel, Cox Cactus Farms, DBA Construction, EarthScapes, Elite Waste Services, Evergreen Turf, Ewing Irrigation, Excel Screen Printing, Felix Construction, Granite Express, Hawkeye Electric, Haydon Building Corp., Honor House, Hauser Engineering Group, Kilauea Crushers, Lowe’s, Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, Natina Products, Nesbitt Construction Contracting, Outdoor Systems Management, Premier Irrigation, RC Lurie, Rummel Construction, Straight Arrow Construction, Sunrise Nursery, Triton Boulder Supply, Weinberger Waste Disposal, Wright Engineering.

For more information about the Veterans Reflection Circle project and Brian Mancini, please visit www.surpriseaz.gov/vrc.

The City’s Water Resource Management department receives multiple 2020 AZ Water Association Awards

The AZ Water Association awards recognize members, facilities and projects that have excelled throughout the year.

Surprise Lead Water Operator Ryan Hime has been recognized as the 2020 Water Operator of the Year-Large System. Recipients in the operation leader category are awarded based on their significant contributions to the water/wastewater industry and to AZ Water.

Maris Adams, SCADA Systems Supervisor, is the recipient of the Technology Professional of the Year – Large Systems. This award recognizes an individual for their notable service to the AZ Water Association in the categories pertaining to water, wastewater, collections and distribution.

The city also received safety awards for the following water resource facilities:

  • Mountain Vista PWS (2 awards)
  • Surprise WRF – SPA1
  • Surprise SPA 2 WRF5

April 2020 • Newsletter

Fellow Residents of Surprise,

We have seen a lot of change in the past few weeks. We went from handshakes and high fives, sports games and festivals, to maintaining six feet of social distancing, cancellations of events and programs, and the closure of schools and many city buildings. I know that all of this COVID-19-related change, on top of concerns about your health, can be very stressful. I want to assure you that the city is mindful of the impact on our residents and our businesses, and we are working tirelessly to ensure that city services are maintained and our community is cared for.

Public health and safety continue to be our top priority, and communication is key in that. That’s why the city has developed a one-stop resource for COVID-19 information on our Surpriseaz.gov website. If you haven’t visited it already, please take a moment to see what information is available to you. There are updates on changes to city business processes, contacts to connect with city services and links to trusted information on the COVID-19 virus.

Community vitality and economic security are also significant priorities, and we have assembled a team to work on support resources for our residents and businesses. The city’s Economic Development department has created a COVID-19 Business and Workforce Resources webpage to provide a comprehensive, one-stop spot for residents and businesses to receive information.

The page can be accessed off the city’s COVID-19 webpage and includes recommendations on how consumers can continue to support local businesses; a list of restaurants in Surprise providing takeout and delivery services; links to financial support for businesses through organizations like the Small Business Association and Arizona Commerce Authority; connections for job seekers, and more.

We have also developed a webpage dedicated to human service needs during this difficult time – whether you are in need of assistance or looking to serve your community. This COVID-19 Community Care webpage includes information about free meals for seniors and access to free essentials like food and diapers. It also provides details on opportunities to donate needed supplies, help our seniors with grocery shopping, or be a phone pal during this time of isolation.

I am already so encouraged by the stories I’m hearing of volunteerism and human kindness; the ways the community has come together. There is joy to be found in the gratitude I see pouring out of people for first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and others who are working overtime to provide the essential services we need. Recently, a home in Marley Park decorated their trash bins with colorful, handmade posters to thank their sanitation truck driver. It was a simple, but beautiful gesture of appreciation. While this is a time to be serious about stopping the spread of COVID-19, it’s also a time to get serious about spreading love to our neighbors – and you are really shining at that, Surprise.

On April 15, I invite you to tune into a video premiere of our State of the City at 6 p.m. We’ll take a look at significant achievements that have transformed our city and celebrate the progress we have made over the past six decades – as Surprise turns 60 this year!

The State of the City video premiere will be carried live on Surprise TV, online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprisetv, and via Facebook LIVE on the City of Surprise Facebook page. If you are unable to tune into the premiere, the video will be rebroadcast on Surprise TV and will be available for viewing on the Surprise TV website.

This live video premiere replaces the State of the City Celebration that was planned for March 26 at City Hall, but canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

As our community faces unprecedented challenges during this time, I feel it is important to deliver this message of where we’ve been and who we are – united, strong and resilient.

I am proud to be your mayor, and I am here for you if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at mayor@surpriseaz.gov or 623.222.1300.

We will get through this together!

Sincerely,

Mayor Skip Hall

COVID-19 Special Report Video

With so much change and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Mayor Hall sat down with staff to talk about how the city is working hard to preserve public health, support our vulnerable populations, and maintain essential city services.

Community inquires helped to shape the questions he asked, so thank you for reaching out, Surprise.

Mayor Hall Declares Local State of Emergency in Surprise

In consultation with members of the Surprise City Council, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Skip Hall announced a State of Emergency for the city of Surprise today in an effort to preserve public health.  

Effective 5 p.m. this evening, city facilities will be closed to public until further notice. City business will continue to be conducted. Please be assured that core services will not be affected, including fire-medical, police, trash, water and other essential city services. Additionally, the city is suspending all City of Surprise water customer shutoffs through May 10.

“My top concern is protecting the health and safety of our employees, residents, and visitors,” said Mayor Skip Hall. “This proclamation is an important step that gives our City Manager the authority to respond quickly during this rapidly changing time.”

The city has already canceled city-sponsored events, programs and sports through May 10, and changed how public comment is taken at City Council and Planning and Zoning Meetings, accommodating remote participation. With the closing of city facilities to the public, limited staff will be on site and other staff will be telecommuting.

The following city facilities will be closed to the public for walk-in services. Select services may be available by appointment:

  • City Hall (including service counters for: City Clerk, Cashier, Development Services)
  • Fire Administration 
  • AZ TechCelerator
  • Senior Center (meal delivery and pick-up will continue)
  • Parks & Recreation Offices
  • Aquatic Center
  • Tennis & Racquet Complex
  • Countryside Recreation Center 
  • Sierra Montana Recreation Center
  • Villanueva Recreation Center

Doors will remain open at the following facilities, but with suspended or limited services so as to reduce public walk-in traffic:

  • Police Department
  • Fire Stations (non-emergency visits are prohibited)
  • City Court 
  • Surprise Resource Center (open for drop off and pick-up only)

The city has also closed the following facilities within its parks to curb gatherings; skate park, pickleball courts, splash pads, and dog parks.

City libraries are managed by Maricopa County Library District and are also closed to the public. 

Please contact the city by phone or email for assistance:

  • City Clerk – clerk@surpriseaz.gov / 623.222.1200 (Passport services have been suspended until further notice)
  • City Court – municipalcourt@surpriseaz.gov / 623.222.4800
  • City Manager – 623.222.1100
  • Community Development / Development Center – 623.222.3000
  • Economic Development – 623.222.3300
  • Fire-Medical – Emergency 9-1-1, Non-Emergency 623.222.5000
  • Human Resources – hr@surpriseaz.gov / 623.222.3500
  • Human Service & Community Vitality – 623.222.1500
  • Marketing & Communications – 623.222.1431
  • Mayor & City Council – 623.222.1300
  • Parks & Recreation – recreation@surpriseaz.gov / 623.222.2000
  • Police – Emergency 9-1-1, Non-Emergency 623.222.4000
  • Public Works – 623.222.1900
  • Utility Payment – www.surpriseaz.gov/payments /  623.222.1900, Option 1
  • Water Resource Management – 623.222.1900

For general questions, please call 623.222.1900. The city’s website at www.surpriseaz.gov is also a great resource for connecting with staff.

All of the city’s actions are in an effort to comply with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Arizona Department of Health Services.

The city reminds residents that, as of March 18, 2020, the following recommendations have been issued by public health authorities and are also recommended by the city of Surprise to best protect our community:

  • Restaurants, bars and dining establishments in Maricopa County should discourage dine-in traffic. Provide curbside pick-up or drive-through service instead. (UPDATE: Governor Ducey has issued an Executive Order that requires restaurants in Arizona counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases to provide dine-out options only, and that all bars in those counties close. This also applies to movie theaters and gyms. It is effective close of business Friday, March 20. To assist in mitigating the financial consequences of restaurant closures, the Executive Order also allows restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with the purchase of food. Additionally, the Governor’s directive allows manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to buy back unopened products from restaurants, bars and clubs. See full order here: https://bit.ly/2Ur03ae)
  • Cancel or postpone gatherings of 10 or more people.
  •  Use telework and other alternatives when available.
  • Increase hygiene and sanitation. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not visit nursing homes, retirement homes or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • If someone in your family has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home and contact your medical provider.

Details on event and program cancellations, public meeting remote comment, and ways to conduct city business during this time are available on the city’s website at www.surpriseaz.gov/COVID-19.

To read the Mayor’s Declaration of Emergency, click here

For information on the COVID-19 virus, please visit cdc.gov for a national perspective, and azdhs.gov for Arizona information.