The first Scottsdale City Council meeting of 2008 will be stacked with high-profile items — some ready for a final vote — others perhaps just starting to heat up.
Tuesday may see the end of a two-year effort to update the transportation master plan, a $1.2 million review that became as well known for what it didn’t include — a light rail or streetcar recommendation — than what it did.
The meeting could launch the new evaluation process for top city officials — including City Manager Jan Dolan — that for the first time would include a written, publicly-released evaluation.
The council also is scheduled to debate whether to repeal a portion of the city’s sales tax on food, an item placed on the agenda by Councilman Tony Nelssen.
Finally, the council is set to decide whether to spend $5.2 million to construct a new road that will connect the One Scottsdale development to Hayden Road.
TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLAN
The council has the opportunity to give its final nod to the transportation master plan, which is expected to guide the city’s transportation needs through 2030.
The plan provides no answers, however, to one of the most sought-after questions involving transportation needs in Scottsdale: Whether the city should pursue light rail or modern streetcar along Scottsdale Road. The plan instead calls for further study on that issue.
The council last month voted to join Valley Metro Rail that could lead to Scottsdale joining a light rail extension study.
The transportation plan supported an increase in the percentage of funds spent on projects to benefit transit users, bikers and walkers — up to 33 percent from 26 percent.
It rejects a reversible lane concept on Indian School Road between downtown and Loop 101, and limits Scottsdale and Pima roads north of Happy Valley Road to four lanes each. The plan also supports reducing a lane on Drinkwater and Goldwater boulevards through downtown and eliminating an airport tunnel, while supporting additional intersection capacity around town and a new road around the airpark.
A discussion originally scheduled Tuesday on a possible September light-rail vote was put on hold. Nelssen said he’s called for the postponement because a number of issues need to be resolved, including how a vote would affect the region and the city’s possible participation in a light rail extension study. Also, Nelssen wanted to know how the result would be enforced. The councilman said he plans to bring it back at a future meeting.
FOOD SALES TAX
The council is slated to consider repealing a portion of its sales tax on groceries, but the move could cost the city more than $6 million a year in revenue.
Nelssen proposes eliminating 1 percent of the 1.65 percent tax Scottsdale levies on food items bought for home consumption.
The move would eliminate the portion of the tax that goes into the city’s General Fund. In the last fiscal year, the General Fund portion of that tax amounted to $6.3 million in city revenue, or 2.5 percent of the General Fund budget, according to a report from city finance officials.
Another possibility is to provide some residents an exemption from the grocery tax based on factors like the buyer’s age and economic status, Nelssen has said.
City Manager Jan Dolan and three others could learn the details of how they will be evaluated by the council in the coming months.
It will be the first time a written document is produced expressing the council’s views of Dolan, City Attorney Deborah Robberson, City Auditor Cheryl Dreska and City Clerk Carolyn Jagger.
Last time, the city refused to release the self-evaluation to the Tribune, which subsequently sued and forced the release of the document. This year, both the self-evaluation and council’s written evaluation will be available to the public.
The council is expected to finalize how it will measure the employees’ job performances and what will be included in the written evaluation.
NEW ROAD TO ONE SCOTTSDALE
Scottsdale could spend more than $5 million for a ¾-mile section of roadway meant to connect the privately-owned, $1.5 billion One Scottsdale commercial center to Hayden Road.
The city would be reimbursed for the expense by fees on future development along the roadway, said Kroy Ekblaw, the city’s planning systems general manager.
The City Council is slated to consider awarding a $5.2 million contract for the project to Blucor Contracting Inc.
The road would connect to a future portion of Center Drive to be built by DMB Associates, developers of One Scottsdale. The road, which ultimately is expected to be a total of four lanes with a landscaped median, would bisect the 120-acre One Scottsdale, which is now under construction.
“Certainly it benefits the project,” Ekblaw said. “It benefits the city in general. It will be another east-west access for folks in that area.”
The roadway is expected to take up to 16 months to compete, he said.
Development plans for One Scottsdale call for 1.8 million square feet of commercial, retail and office space, 400 resort and hotel rooms and 1,100 residential units on the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Loop 101 in Scottsdale.