May 23, 2018
The May Regional Council meeting featured one of the most critical issues facing our region: the extension of the half-cent sales tax for transportation, approved by voters as Proposition 400. The half-cent sales tax brings in $400 million a year and is the lifeblood of our freeways, transit system and arterial streets. Two bills that would have laid the groundwork for a transportation tax extension did not make it through the Arizona Legislature, but what we have learned from the process will make us stronger as we move forward.
We are going to take a different approach in preparation for the 2019 legislative session. We plan to discuss proposed legislation with our member agencies, spend time on coalition building with stakeholders, and work with state officials and legislative staff on the processes that will lead to a successful outcome. We hope these discussions will provide strong policy guidance for a draft bill that focuses on the MAG region. Transportation funding is the core business of MAG and the future of the region’s economy.
Another major agenda item was the unanimous approval of the 2019 MAG Unified Planning Work Program and Annual Budget. This budget represents the priorities and projects for the coming fiscal year, which are determined by working closely with MAG member agencies. We strive to make the process transparent, with detailed updates that begin each January to give the Regional Council time to consider the many elements of the work program. These complex projects, which also must meet federal and regulatory guidelines, require a highly professional staff to make sure we meet our responsibilities to the public. As an organization, we never take for granted the support of MAG member agencies in giving us the ability to recruit, hire and maintain high quality staff.
Also of note was a presentation on the region’s response to the opioid epidemic, a health crisis that has swept into every corner of the nation. At least two Arizonans die every day from opioid addiction. MAG will continue to serve as a forum for keeping the dialogue flowing on this important issue.
The challenges facing MAG are complex, and demand a multi-faceted approach that can only come from a coordinated regional effort. I’m confident that our member agencies, working together, can arrive at strategies and solutions in the best interests of the residents of the region.
For more information, please contact Eric Anderson, MAG Executive Director, (602) 254-6300.
The MAG Regional Council unanimously approved the FY 2019 MAG Unified Planning Work Program and Annual Budget. The FY 2019 budget, including funding that is carried forward from the prior fiscal year, totals $35.9 million, which includes an operating budget of $29.8 million.
The FY 2019 Budget reflects an increase, primarily due to capital outlays for needed tenant improvements on the 7th floor of the MAG offices. There also is an increase in personnel costs of 3.65 percent and an increase in benefits of four percent. That budget includes three new positions and a performance based salary increase of up to 3.5 percent for MAG staff. Overall, including carryforward totals, the final draft budget for FY 2019 reflects an increase of 5.70 percent from the prior year.
Staff noted that due to the complexity of the budget, the draft Work Program is presented incrementally to MAG policy committees from January through April. The Work Program is reviewed each year by federal agencies, with recommended approval sought by the Regional Council in May.
For more information, please contact Veronica Martinez, MAG Fiscal Services Manager, (602) 254-6300.
Councilmember Joel Navarro from the City of Tempe provided information on the Regional Opioid Action Committee. The mission of the group is to reduce opioid abuse and fatal overdoses by localizing best practices and collaborating at the state and federal levels. Based on a framework from the National League of Cities Opioid Task Force, the committee is focusing on treatment, education and outreach, and regional collaboration. An overview was given of the Tempe Opioid Dashboard, which collects data and pinpoints areas of opioid concentration. Social service agencies are able to directly link resources to specific areas of the city to address the epidemic. The Regional Opioid Committee is working on future steps to share best practices and leverage resources throughout the Maricopa region.
For more information, please contact Brande Mead, MAG Human Services Manager, (602) 254-6300.
The MAG Annual Meeting in June will include the election of officers. The Nominating Committee recommended a slate of seven candidates for the 2018-2019 Executive Committee. They include:
Nominating Committee Chair W.J. “Jim” Lane, Mayor of Scottsdale, noted that at-large nominee Mayor Stanton will resign from the City of Phoenix on May 29, 2018. Mayor Lane informed the Council that according to procedure, when that resignation happens, a nominee with a similar position from the City of Phoenix will be named as the new at-large member of the Executive Committee.
For more information, please contact Eric Anderson, MAG Executive Director, (602) 264-6300.
MAG staff provided an update on the recent Joint Planning Advisory Council (JPAC) meeting held in April representing Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties. The event highlighted opportunities for local governments to support megaregion coordination and exporting to expand the global economy. The Sun Corridor megaregion drives the economy in Arizona, with $22 billion in exports in 2016. That ranks the Sun Corridor in the top 20 in the country for exports and in the top 10 of major metropolitan consumer markets. National experts and chairs of regional planning agencies discussed ways to work together to maximize the region’s strategic assets and take advantage of our close proximity to major markets.
One example of coordination is the Economic Development for the Global Economy (EDGE) Program, now in its second year. With the support of 15 partners throughout the Sun Corridor, 20 businesses were recognized for their export initiatives in international markets, representing such diverse industries as pecan farming, eye- tracking software, solar energy and skincare. JPAC members are currently drafting a resolution that defines collaboration strategies for local governments to support exporters in their communities. Examples include hosting ExporTech boot camp training and using data-driven analytics to leverage the megaregion’s reach.
For more information, please contact Amy St. Peter, MAG Assistant Director, (602) 254-6300.
MAG staff introduced two new initiatives resulting from lessons learned from the 2018 legislative session and opportunities going forward in 2019. To recap, two bills that would have laid the groundwork for the extension of transportation funding, House Bill (HB) 2162 and Senate Bill (SB) 1147, did not successfully make it through the State Legislature. The bills would have allowed MAG to go to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for approval of a ballot initiative to renew the half- cent sales tax for transportation (extending Proposition 400, which expires in 2025). Reasons for the unsuccessful legislation include late introduction of the bills, major amendments to the bills in January and February, and a focus by legislators on light rail expenditures.
In response to these challenges, the first initiative is to develop policy principles for the MAG agency. Staff described these as broad and flexible principles on issues of transportation, air quality, 9-1-1, human services, and other MAG program areas. The policy principles are intended to provide a level of awareness for MAG member agencies, the public, and other stakeholders on how MAG positions itself in relation to policy and legislative matters. MAG staff will have conversations with MAG member agencies in the coming months to help inform the development of the policy principles. With that feedback and input from MAG’s policy committees, the goal is to have the draft policy principles ready for consideration by the MAG Regional Council in November 2018.
The second item will focus on a timeline to pursue legislation that will allow the MAG region to continue the half-cent sales tax for transportation. Currently, this is imagined as proposed legislation with the same intent as HB 2162 and SB 1147. MAG plans to use the coming months to work with MAG member agencies; spend time coalition building with affected stakeholders; meet with relevant state offices, and to facilitate related activities. MAG also is working to determine where Pima Association of Governments and the rural counties stand on proposed legislation for the 2019 session. Also, a consultant will be brought on board to conduct values mapping, which is intended to inform the conversation on the development of the next regional transportation plan. In the months of September and October, the plan is to discuss this legislative strategy with the Transportation Policy Committee, Regional Council and Management Committee, with consideration for action by the MAG Regional Council in November.
For more information, please contact Nathan Pryor, MAG Government Relations Manager, (602) 254-6300.
Please note that the next meeting of the MAG Regional Council will be held at a different time and location. It will be the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 West Dunlap Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021. Parking is free and vouchers for purchased transit tickets will be provided. The Annual Meeting will be followed by the Desert Peaks Awards Ceremony at 5:00 p.m. at the same location. Those planning to attend the ceremony are asked to RSVP through the e-mailed Eventbrite invitation by June 15, 2018. Please contact MAG if you did not receive an invitation.
For more information, please contact Eric Anderson, MAG Executive Director, (602) 254-6300.
Maricopa Association of Governemnts
302 North 1st Avenue, Suite 300
Phoenix, Arizona 85003