by Greg Mengarelli, Mayor, City of Prescott
Nothing symbolizes Prescott more than the events that occur in our great city at this time of year.
The annual Prescott Chamber Christmas Parade, the Christmas Courthouse Lighting, Acker Night Musical Showcase, and the famous Whiskey Row Boot Drop all bring thousands of residents and visitors to our historic downtown to embrace the spirit of Christmas and the holidays.
All indicators point to another productive and prosperous year in 2019, in our city and region. There are several key issues that Council will be taking up in the first quarter of 2019.
Because of your dedicated support, Prescott Regional Airport had just over 10,000 enplanements in 2018. This makes available $1 million in federal funding for capital projects at the airport. It will also put Prescott in good position for additional grants from the federal government. We hope to have a groundbreaking on a new terminal in September and expect 25,000 enplanements in 2019. Thank you for your support of United Express flights to Los Angeles and Denver!
Hilton Garden Inn
One of the most exciting projects expected to begin in 2019 will be the Hilton Garden Inn hotel project at Montezuma and Sheldon streets. As you may know, this will be built on a currently vacant city parking lot and will positively impact Granite Creek Park, the historic Sam Hill Warehouse, the railroad trestle and the former APS utility yard. We feel that this will be a catalyst project with the opportunity to lead the way to revitalizing the Granite Creek Corridor. In fact, the city just received a $79,000 grant to cover the cost of a master plan for the area.
Arizona Eco Development
It’s no surprise that Prescott has been in extensive conversations with Arizona Eco Development to come up with an annexation agreement that conserves as much of our beloved Granite Dells as possible, while still allowing the property owner to exercise his private property rights. There have been some concerns about how long this process is taking. Let me assure you the time we have taken is a good thing. This is a very complex and important development. The City and Arizona Eco want to do this right the first time, and present the Council with the best plan for our city. We hope to see this come forward in the first quarter of the year.
A Review of City Water Policy
City staff, lead by City Manager Michael Lamar, has asked Council to take a new look at how the City of Prescott uses and conserves water. To that end, the City has hired a consultant to review the water portfolio, past water usage and projections for the future. Their findings will be presented to the Council within the next month, and we think citizens will be surprised with some of the results.
The Public Service Pension Retirement System (PSPRS) just provided the annual actuarial valuation for the city’s pension trusts, and it is good news for Prescott. Since Prop 443’s 0.75 cent sales tax went into effect last January, Prescott has contributed more than $17 million additional to paying down our unfunded liability during the period of the actuarial valuation. This is in addition to the Annual Required Contribution (ARC), which comes from operating funds (General Fund). Prescott’s liability is funded at nearly 50 percent, up from around 30 percent a year ago. The Council’s goal is 100 percent fully funded by June 30, 2028.
On behalf of my fellow Council members, the entire City staff and my family, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year!