Resident Submission On Becoming A Municipality
By Local resident
San Tan Times loves it when the residents get passionate about something. This local resident is a little fed up and feels like the area has been taken advantage of for the last several years and want San Tan Valley to have more of a say in terms of what is going on. They also fear repercussions and retaliation, and have asked us to keep their name private.
Over the last several months it has become obvious to me that we cannot rely on elected officials from outside our area to do what is right. As I watch my community continue to be ignored by our governor, government agencies doing the bare minimum to protect us, and elected officials in the county only caring about their own little area, I am fed up. this is going to continue to happen until we have more of a say.
Rumors of a new incorporation effort are spewing out of resident’s mouths with as much fervor as sewage spilling out of a Johnson Utilities’ operated manhole. But, unlike Johnson Utilities, however, we have the control to stop the spillage of these rumors and work together as a group to protect San Tan Valley.
As of right now, as far as I can tell, there isn’t an effort to incorporate this area. There does seem to be arguing for and against annexing, though. Arguing is something San Tan Valley is good at.
The most recent attempt to incorporate failed due to a number of flaws in the implementation of the process (i.e. invalid signatures on the petition, lack of community involvement and engagement in process, anger against the map, and disapproval of local developers to name a few). San Tan Valley remains unincorporated until a group of individuals with “know-how” can create a plan, get the community involved, draw up a map of the suggested new city, and get enough valid signatures to get it on a ballot.
It seems simple enough, however, there are other things to consider when trying to create an incorporated place. The Arizona League of Cities and Towns has created the Municipal Incorporation in Arizona manual which outlines the incorporation process.
Here’s what you need to know:
I. DEFINITION OF INCORPORATED PLACE:
As defined by census.gov, an incorporated place is a type of governmental unit incorporated [unified] under state law having legally prescribed powers and functions. (1)
II. MAPS AND POPULATION:
- 1. Firstly, a map of the proposed incorporated area must be drawn. There are two major things to consider when drawing this map: i. The potentially incorporated area must have a minimum population of 1,500 men, women, and children to be considered a town, and over 3,000 to qualify as a city. (San Tan Valley’s population rounds out at about 110,000 people.) ii. The map cannot include large masses of uninhabited, rural or farmland. It must be considered “urban in nature”.
- Secondly, the population must be considered. The population must meet the legal requirements of a “community”, which is defined as a “body of several hundred people living in an area of a few square miles and having a common interest in public health, public protections, and water.” (2)
III. PETITIONS AND METHODS: If these requirements are met, then it is recommended that supporters collaborate with an attorney to prepare a petition. A copy of this petition must be filed with either the County Recorder, or the Elections Department if one exists. Once filed, valid signatures from current registered voters must be gathered in no more than 180 days. Signatures dated after the 180 days, or from voters whose registration is outdated are deemed invalid and not counted.
There are two methods to petition the population:
- Petition with Election: Ten percent of voters must sign the petition. Once completed, the Board of Supervisors has 60 days to call an election. That election must take place within 180 days.
- Petition without Election: Two-thirds of registered voters within the proposed area must sign the petition and file it with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors within regular office hours. From there the Board of Supervisors determines if the proposed area meets legal requirements. If it does then they order the area incorporated and must immediately declare it as such.
IV. TOWN COUNCIL:
Once the area is declared incorporated, with no-particular method the Board of Supervisors will appoint 7 community members to sit on the city council. The council has 20 days to assemble and appoint one of the 7 as mayor.
These are the basic first steps to becoming an incorporated area. It’s a straightforward process that takes time but it can be accomplished by any person or group of people who is interested in seeing it be done. If you are interested in starting a petition and moving forward with this effort then I think we need to come together as a community and consult with county officials about the process, particularly Supervisor Mike Goodman. While county officials are supposed to remain neutral on the subject they are a wealth of information and prefer to know about these types of movements taking in place within their community. Let’s make this happen so we don’t have to rely on others to solve problems we didn’t even create but are left to deal with.
Information cited in my letter can be found below:
(1)(2)League of Arizona Cities and Towns: Municipal Incorporation in Arizona
San Tan Times has always been supportive of incorporating and we hope something does happen. As of now, we are unaware of any movement to incorporate the area. If you would like more information regarding incorporation, annexation, or taking part in the community Supervisor Mike Goodman can be reached at:
You can also contact San Tan times at:
480-869-2781 | firstname.lastname@example.org