The San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce and CAC Provide Residents with a chance to Learn about Incorporation
On Thursday November 16th the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce held a town hall style forum at CAC for residents to learn more and ask questions about the incorporation effort.
Central Arizona College filled up fast with residents eager to learn about the process and ask questions, it was great to see our community take part in such an important topic.
Vote San Tan Valley Steering Committee Members Rey Torres, and Darren Schnepf were joined by Himanshu Patel Director of Community Development for Pinal County, Louis Anderson Director of public Works for Pinal County, and Ted Beam Rural Metro Fire Chief for Pinal and Maricopa Counties, as panelist for the evening. The Emcee for the event was Terry Gilberg a local news talk radio host.
The evening started with a brief history of past incorporation efforts by San Tan Valley by Rey Torres. Where he stated that there have been multiple attempts over the years to form a municipality that were all vetoed by smaller neighboring municipalities. That will not be the case this time as HB2088 cleared the way for San Tan Valley and other large unincorporated areas to have the right to vote on their own futures. “Communities smaller than us no longer have the opportunity to block the progress of San Tan Valley” said Mr. Torres.
Mr. Anderson was then asked about the legality of the San Tan Valley map, his response was that the legality of the map is not something that the county will look into until all petition signatures have been filed with the county, at that point the county would look into the map, and signatures. When it comes to annexation, said that “if the annexation is not complete by the time San Tan Valley were to vote yes on incorporation, that area would become part of San Tan Valley if it were in the boundaries”
Darren Schnepf who spent many years working with his father at their company H2O Incorporated was asked whether a new city or town would be able to make the current problems with Johnson Utilities go away. “A local government would work more closely with private utilities than the county currently does”. This could lead to stricter regulations on private companies, which could be a great thing for San Tan Valley Residents.
When it comes to Fire Protection Mr. Beam stated that “If the town were to decide to provide protection to the entire population, it could be done at a much lower rate than residents are currently paying, and that could be paid for in multiple ways, including as part of property taxes.”
Another question that has been a hot topic is police. Mr Torres stated that “A municipality is only required to provide police protection, they are not required to build out their own department. The most efficient, and cost effective way of providing this service would be to contract with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. Much like the town of Queen Creek contracts Maricopa County.”
One of the hottest topics of the night came from the rural residents that are in the proposed boundaries of San Tan Valley, they are worried that they may lose their lifestyle if San Tan Valley were to incorporate. That subject took center stage in the second half of the forum where crowd members’ questions were answered.
Mr. Patel said that “One of the things that happens in a municipality formation is that the new municipality has to recognize and acknowledge what was granted under the county. They have to allow the owners those rights.”
While no one on the panel is sure of who would be running the new municipality, they all seemed to be in agreement that the new town can and would allow rural areas to stay as they are. When asked for how long, that was not something that anyone could respond to with any certainty as the city would be able to make zoning changes.
As the night wrapped up it was clear that many residents got the answers they were looking for while others wanted more clarification. We hope to see more great events like this in the future. Learning about the process, and what could happen is vital for our residents in order to make an informed decision.