Letter To The Editor For Incorporating
By Sandra Betts
There are over 100,000 residents here that live in the diverse area called San Tan Valley. San Tan Valley is the most populous unincorporated area in the United States, and yet for years we were denied the right to vote on our future. After fighting for years, we have now won that right.
Whether you are in favor of incorporation, or not, it is important to sign the petition and get the measure on the ballot so each of us can exercise our newly won right to vote our preference. While I believe more information is needed before we can decide which way to vote, signing the petition is the necessary first step.
Once the incorporation measure is on the ballot, I believe there are many reasons to support it, as follows:
Forming our own town will allow us long awaited self-determination to identify our most pressing needs and address them. Currently, San Tan Valley is overwhelmed by the vast number of housing developments, with inadequate infrastructure to support them. Little thought seems to have been given to the impact on roads and water supplies, as these developments have continued to be approved. To add to the problem further, many of our commercially-zoned properties have even been rezoned to residential, further exacerbating the problem!
More Responsive Local Municipal Government: Having a local government made up totally of residents of San Tan Valley will provide us with leaders who are aware and more responsive to our community needs. Currently, we have only one supervisor serving on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors who is aware of, and representing our interests. Despite the commitment of this representative, this person will always be outvoted if the other members are not in agreement.
Recouping of State Funds:
We could be receiving substantial amounts of state funds that at this point are sent elsewhere because we are unincorporated. In addition to these funds, we would also be able to access grants and other funding sources if we were an incorporated city or town.
More Diligent Government Oversight:
Another major issue in San Tan Valley is one of water safety and adequate regulation for those receiving their water from Johnson Utilities. A more localized government would allow for more scrutiny and advocacy. Local leaders would be able to better enforce adherence to safety and financial regulations.
Prevention of Annexation:
Another consideration for all of us here in San Tan Valley is the issue of annexation by neighboring towns. Currently, large parcels of land in San Tan Valley have been included in the planning maps of Florence, Queen Creek and Apache Junction. Queen Creek has recently annexed Banner Hospital and the J-Curve property (locate across from San Tan Flat). They are in the process of annexing Ironwood Crossing, the planned Safeway shopping center and north along Ironwood, up to Germann. This is vitally important, commercially zoned property that will be especially important to San Tan Valley, especially as the Route 24 Extension is completed. Incorporation would protect San Tan Valley from these land grabs.
Economic Development and Planning:
As an incorporated town or city, we would have the ability to develop an economic development plan that would serve to bring business development to our community. Currently, the County’s rate structure favors residential developers over commercial development. As a local municipality, we would be able to develop a plan to do the opposite, thus encouraging more commercial development rather than residential. We could implement requirements for our residential builders to contribute to the development of infrastructure, such as community parks, road improvements, and schools as a way to contribute to the amenities available within the community and to mitigate the impact of the new housing.
Economy of Scale:
Rural Metro Emergency and Fire Services has indicated that if all property within San Tan Valley subscribed to their services, the cost per property would be reduced from the current method of being based on the square footage to a flat fee of $225.00 – $250.00 per property. These are the types of fee-saving measures that could be implemented once we have local municipal control.
One of the opposing views I hear expressed is the fear of tax increases. However, in truth, tax increases can only happen with the approval of the voters of San Tan Valley. We get to decide what we are willing to spend money on to get the community and services we want. At this time, using the state revenue that we would get once incorporated, we can start small and conservatively, and begin to become our own. I believe we can then slowly, carefully, build our town and make it what we all want it to be…a beautiful, vibrant, diverse blend of people who are proud to live here.