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Feb. 23, 2016
State of the City is strong, thanks to many partners
By Mayor Jay Tibshraeny

Here are some community highlights I shared during my recent State of the City address:
In our recent budget survey, 97 percent of residents rated our overall performance rating as Excellent or Good. That’s a terrific number – and it leaves a little room for us to get even better. The survey also tells us there is strong support for continued capital maintenance of City infrastructure. And, I am glad to see that.
We’ve had a difficult past several years as we struggled through the Great Recession. One of the things we did not lose sight of, was the critical need to continue to maintain streets, water systems and parks. It was painful, as we set many new projects on hold. But in the long run, it was the right thing to do. And it will serve us well long into the future.
And, of course, we have a very active State Legislature. Unfortunately, this year cities are under attack with many bills that would harm us. House Bill 2026 (now dead) was designed to erode the revenues municipalities receive from rental taxes. And we continue to be concerned about the implementation and transition of TPT collections to the state.
We will continue to remain watchful for legislation that could prove harmful to us through the end of the session. Raids on State-Shared revenues and sweeping resources like the Highway User Revenue Funds remain troubling to us. It is troubling that we must constantly defend ourselves at the state capital.
Sometimes it feels like many in the Legislature are trying to be Councilmembers, with all of their micromanaging of us. This is especially concerning when there are so many statewide issues not getting their attention. Areas like Department of Child Safety, Department of Revenue, ADOT funding, and the Department of  Corrections and some of its controversies.
On a positive note, we are involved with the pension system reform legislation that has worked its way through the Capitol. We all know the system is broken and needs fixing. I appreciate the Legislature’s willingness to address this, working with cities and union leadership on viable, long-term solutions.
Each year removed from the Recession seems to see a healthier development market for Chandler. We are experiencing a wave of commercial development activity with more than 1.5 million-square-feet of new space currently under construction. With another 1.7 million-square-feet in the planning stages. Strong numbers – and for a reason.
Chandler is one of the most stable destinations for private sector capital investment in the country, if not the world. One of a select number of municipalities, Chandler holds a Triple-A bond rating from all three national rating agencies. We do so for the number of strong fiscal policies that go back more than two decades. Policies that include maintaining strong reserves and remaining structurally balanced. Adhering to those principles helped us maintain those ratings -- even through the Great Recession.
It is this "Lead by Example" attitude that has created such a strong financial climate throughout the community. And an even stronger signal to developers and business leaders that an investment in Chandler is a smart decision. And safe one.
West Chandler is where the semiconductor giant ARM is moving soon -- into the Park at San Tan. Our freeway corridors continue to see new projects. A 150,000-square-foot spec building by Mark Four is planned near General Motor’s Innovation Center at Chandler Freeway Crossing. Further east near the San Tan at our Airpark, comes the first building at Ascend, a project that will hit almost a half-million square feet at build-out. And Mach One, a very modern, new spec space geared for the millennial workforce, is also under way
We’ll be doing a lot of work in North Chandler in the coming year -- an area that is probably a little under-appreciated, given its impact to our economy. North Chandler is home to 8 percent of our employment base; and 17 percent of industrial flex space. That is substantial, and deserving of our focus. We see it as a perfect destination for entrepreneurs looking to expand out of incubators and garages into more significant space. Companies like State Forty Eight -- a clothing company that just moved into new space in North Chandler and run by three young business people with close ties to Chandler.
There is also growing interest in redevelopment with our launch of the adaptive reuse overlay district. This Council is very supportive of continued private investment in downtown, and in some of our established neighborhoods within the core. And we feel this program will go a long way to breathe new life into many of the underutilized and vacant properties in the downtown area.
As Alta Steelyard continues to lease, more pedestrian density will hit downtown. Good news for our restaurants, including the new Brickyard and Ostrich, as well as our shops and other businesses who invest so much in the City center. We’ll soon be filling a couple of vacant spots as La Bocca Urban Kitchen and Wine Bar, and Modern Margarita, will share space in the old Coach and Willie’s location.
As always, much is happening and continues to develop in our downtown. We anticipate the new development called “The Row” to be complete by the fall of 2017. This restaurant and theater complex will be a tremendous anchor to the City’s gateway at Chandler Boulevard and Arizona Avenue. And we hope to see the Ryan Companies proposal for Site 6 come to Council in the next couple of months for its office development project.
I also want to emphasize again the work of our employees who run this operation every minute of the day, 365 days a year. Our Police personnel – responsible for the lowest crime rates we’ve see in decades. Fire, Health and Medical employees, who are in the midst of perhaps a groundbreaking partnership in the care and treatment of our veterans.
The employees of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs who supply programs, maintain facilities and bring great quality of life to residents each and every day. Our Code enforcement team for making neighborhoods cleaner, safer and more sustainable, and Neighborhoods staff for developing leaders.
The engineers, inspectors, analysts and planners who ensure a structurally safe community. Those folks out in the trenches every day. Streets crews, water plant operators, traffic and facility techs. Those in our Courts, Information Technology, Clerk’s office and everywhere else. Doing the job every day with pride, passion and purpose.
Watch the entire speech.