During my recent State of the City address for Chandler, I spoke at length about two areas vital to our community’s continued success: neighborhoods and the economy. There is a solid connection between the two. Job creation helps build a strong economy and allows cities to create and maintain places where people want to be. Without great neighborhoods though, employers tend to look elsewhere when it comes time to locate or expand.
It makes sense, then, to focus our attention equally on both areas. That is why I have launched two new initiatives that target each. Neighborhood Connect is a virtual community meeting that will be held Saturday, Oct. 15. More details are on the way, but it will basically allow residents to attend a town hall in cyberspace utilizing a new web presence we are developing.
By bringing together residents and arming them with information and answers to pressing concerns, we are building leaders who will help us to sustain our community in the best and worst of times. So whether you are at home, work, the local coffee shop or half-way around the globe on the 15th, I hope you will join us for a great morning of dialogue about our city.
The second initiative involves the challenges of our lingering down economy and the many vacant retail centers in Chandler. I have heard from members of the commercial sector about these concerns and this initiative will focus on four-corner retail and vacant retail. Several years ago, staff created the commercial redevelopment matching grant program. Recently, our thoughts have shifted to using some of that financing to make a greater impact on commercial corner redevelopment. A great example is Chandler Preparatory Academy — the new charter school at Warner and Alma School roads.
Pulling together data on pivotal retail corridors along Dobson Road, Alma School Road and Arizona Avenue, staff from several city departments is meeting to sift through the data and discuss options. They are looking for creative alternatives, tasked to think outside the box and dissect this mission literally corner by corner. The findings will be shared with a roundtable group that will include residents and the development community and allow for further discussion to generate some ideas on how to move forward. I truly believe we can make a positive difference in these areas by creating better uses that will benefit the business community and the city in general.
Finally, the City Council adopted the 2011-12 budget on June 9. This plan avoids cuts in city services for the first time in several years. The budget also includes an adjustment in the secondary property tax that will enable the city to continue to pay its bond obligations and to maintain basic infrastructure. The new rate also ensures that Chandler property owners will pay less in city taxes with the average homeowner’s tax bill to the city decreasing.
Chandler’s fiscal house remains in good order with some signs of recovery occurring that include new job creation and increasing local sales tax revenues. While we still have some challenges ahead, the state of the city remains very positive indeed.
• Jay Tibshraeny is the mayor of Chandler.