New home unlikely for MAG - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

New home unlikely for MAG

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Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 8:19 pm | Updated: 11:26 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Maricopa Association of Governments is expected to scrap plans to build itself an $87 million office building in yet another example of how local plans are being affected by a sluggish economy.

The organization, which represents every municipality and Indian reservation within the county, was preparing to construct a 10-story, 250,000-square-foot building in downtown Phoenix that would also serve as the new home for Valley Metro and the Regional Public Transportation Authority.

However, a MAG committee of elected Valley leaders that includes the mayors of Mesa, Scottsdale and Gilbert voted last week to kill the project amid concerns it was not the right time to be investing so much money into capital projects. The regional council is expected to follow that recommendation and officially ax the project when it meets next week.

"There was some talk about whether this was the right thing to do in the current economic climate," MAG executive director Dennis Smith said.

Recent news of a collapsing debt market and skyrocketing oil prices have presented a bleak view of the economy locally and nationally.

Arizona and some of its largest cities and towns are struggling with budget deficits. Phoenix has already announced staff reductions. Mesa is expected to announce layoffs today amid an estimated $16 million budget deficit.

Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker is vacationing in Costa Rica this week and was unavailable for comment. Mayors Steve Berman of Gilbert and Mary Manross of Scottsdale did not return phone calls late Wednesday.

While there were no blueprints for the project, MAG had started negotiations with a builder. Smith said his organization as well as Valley Metro and the transit authority each sank about $330,000 for a total of $990,000 into the preliminary plans.

Smith said they will explore other options to construct a new building. Currently, MAG rents office space in a Phoenix building owned by the city.

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