Monuments man: Council to reconsider $89,400 expenditure Nov. 18 to welcome visitors to Town Center

This graphic depicting the proposed entry monument to Town Center in Queen Creek, right, shows it is similar in design to the larger monuments, left, that welcome visitors to the town. (Courtesy of the town of Queen Creek)

This graphic depicting the proposed entry monument to Town Center in Queen Creek, right, shows it is similar in design to the larger monuments, left, that welcome visitors to the town. (Courtesy of the town of Queen Creek)

 

Resident comments have caused Queen Creek Councilman Robin Benning to rethink a matter he voted to approve earlier this month.

At the Nov. 4 meeting of the Queen Creek Town Council, Mr. Benning was one of four council members who voted in favor of approving a contract amendment with E2 Innovations in an amount not to exceed $89,401.54 to fabricate and install four entry monuments that would greet visitors to the Town Center.

E2 Innovations is the same company that designed and installed the monuments that welcome people to the town limits. That contract is for an amount not to exceed $149,200 for five town entry monuments, according to consent agenda in the council’s meeting agenda for Nov. 14, 2014.

The Town Center is a 900-acre area anchored by the intersection of Ocotillo and Ellsworth Loop roads that offers commercial, entertainment and housing options, according to the town’s website. It is envisioned to be a vibrant community that serves as a gathering place for residents and an economic engine for business development, according to the website.

Also voting in favor of the contract amendment were council members Craig Barnes and Dawn Oliphant and Mayor Gail Barney.

Council members Jeff Brown and Emilena Turley and Vice Mayor Julia Wheatley opposed it.
Any further action on the matter would have to take place at the meeting following when the original vote took place, Councilman Benning said during a phone interview. In this case, the matter would have to appear on the council’s Nov. 18 meeting agenda for any change to take place.

Prior to voting on Nov. 4, Councilman Benning said he liked that the proposed monuments would indicate people were entering the Town Center, according to the meeting video that can be viewed on the town’s website.

Queen Creek Councilman Robin Benning

Queen Creek Councilman Robin Benning

In addition, he said he considered the monuments a way to recognize the investment local businesses had made in the Town Center.

However, during a phone interview Nov. 12, he said he had spoken to town residents who were concerned about town money being spent on the monuments.

He said the comments ranged from “this is a terrible waste of money” to suggesting less expensive options, doing nothing at all or holding off on the monuments until the Town Center is more active.

The councilman said he did not agree with the latter suggestion.

“You don’t wait until something is doing great to augment it,” he said during the interview. “The purpose of the monuments is to help business get better. The idea was to spend the money to build a better Town Center. The money comes out of the funds being paid into by the (Town Center) businesses that have collected sales taxes. We have an obligation to those businesses when we promise them if they come to the Town Center and build, that we will help drive business to their door.”

Councilwoman Dawn Oliphant said much the same thing at the Nov. 4 meeting, according to the video. She said the investment, while not cheap, emphasizes that the town is serious about building business in the Town Center.

“(They say) Come to our community, come to our Town Center, open up a business and shop here,” she said.

Councilman Brown said during an interview he would like the money to be used for an option that could increase revenue more quickly than he believes signage could. He suggested giving the money to the Town Center Committee to use for one of its priority projects.

Vice Mayor Wheatley also opposed the expenditure.

“As far as an economic benefit, what kind of economic benefit would we see? It seems like a lot of money,” she said on the meeting video. “I love the design and the monument signs, but to me it seems people know when they’ve reached (the Town Center). I don’t know if it’s the wisest use of our money at this time.”

During his Nov. 12 phone interview, Councilman Benning said the matter will appear on the amended agenda for the Nov. 18 council meeting. The agenda item will include two parts: 1) to reconsider the original vote, and 2) to remand the expenditure request back to Queen Creek Economic Development Committee for its input.

“At this point I’m looking for options that help the businesses and let the taxpayer feel we’re taking good care of their money. I believe this is really the best way to show we’re respectful of both,” he said.

Queen Creek Economic Development Director Doreen Cott said that there are a variety of items/projects in the Town Center that the money could be redirected to.

“As staff we work to implement the plans that have been adopted by the council, while understanding that priorities and strategies may change along the way,” she said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The design and installation of the Town Center monument signs are part of the council-approved Town Center Plan. This project was also included as one of the action items on the fiscal year 2014-15 Town Center Committee work program and staff has been working to implement the project. If council directs staff to redirect the funds, we would like to bring the issue back to the Economic Development Commission for input and we would look to the Town Center Plan for ideas that will further enhance this unique area of the town.”

Reconsideration is a two-step process; first the motion to reconsider is made, seconded and voted upon, Constance Halonen-Wilson, the town’s public information officer, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

If it is successful, then the matter is reconsidered and voted upon again. If the matter that is to be reconsidered has additional notice and hearing requirements (zoning is the most common example), then after the motion to reconsider has passed, the required notices are given, and the reconsideration is scheduled for a meeting in the future, after the required notice requirements have been satisfied, Ms. Halonen-Wilson said.

The Queen Creek Council Polices and Procedures Handbook outlines motions for reconsideration as follows:

1. Motions for reconsideration of a matter may be made at the next regular or special meeting following the council action.

2. For tie votes, in order to allow for reconsideration of the matter at a future council meeting, two council members shall contact the town manager (one member who voted on each side of the issue).

3. A proposed motion for reconsideration at the next succeeding meeting must comply with all noticing requirements in the Arizona Revised Statutes.

4. Motions for reconsideration may only be made by a council member who voted with the majority of the town council on the action proposed to be reconsidered by the council.

The Queen Creek Town Council generally meets starting at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road. Meeting dates and agendas are posted on the town’s Calendar page on its website.

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