CITY SPEAK: HOLIDAY REFLECTIONS…

by Craig McFarland, Mayor of Casa Grande

The holidays always inspire me to reflect on things – What was good this year? What was not? What did we accomplish this year? What did we not? And all the while, I’m always remembering our growing horizon!

I have been in office for one year, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve discovered not everyone agrees with you, and there are a lot of different opinions out there. One revelation I learned is that cities and towns (of which we are one of 91 in Arizona) are the lifeblood of our state. Our city is where the rubber meets the road. We did some good things this year:

  • Established a community health initiative and collaborative city website with social services attached.
  • Initiated the first Mayor Homelessness Task Force.
  • Developed and produced the first “A Growing Horizon” economic development marketing piece.
  • Initiated plans to establish a community marketing organization (branding and marketing Casa Grande).
  • Improved our quality of life: Community recreation center will be built in 2018. Walking and bike-trail system is on the radar. A full review of impact fees is nearing completion.
  • Completed meetings and discussions with all major developers and home builders, and still working to improve our relationships with developers and builders.
  • Increased and continuing discussions with ADOT regarding I-10 widening between Casa Grande and Phoenix.
  • Economic development continues to be a priority.
  • Education and workforce development has improved dramatically, with improved communication and collaboration among all of our education partners.
  • Congratulations to Main Street for winning a $144,000 grant to build a neon sign park downtown. We will continue to support and push for improvements in downtown.

Along with “A Growing Horizon,” your cities and towns are important. Here are some cities and towns facts:

  • 80 percent of Arizona’s population lives in a city or town.
  • 90 percent of the state’s business activity is in a city or town.
  • Cities and towns are the level of government that is closest to the people.
  • They are the most accessible, most responsive and provide the most services, including: The majority of first-responders. Business development. Government efficiency. Quality of life amenities.

Cities and towns exist because we, the residents, expect services. Cities have a budget; they supply and maintain services; they help build and maintain local roads and they supply public safety services (fire and police). So, where does the money come from to run a city or town? Here is a breakdown:

  • 43 percent local sales tax.
  • 39 percent state shared revenue (taxes).
  • 9 percent licenses, permits and user fees (taxes).
  • 7 percent local property tax.

Another revelation for me this past year was learning what the money is spent on (general fund):

  • Public safety is 56 percent.
  • Administration is 14 percent.
  • Community service is 13 percent.
  • Public works is 12 percent.
  • Planning and development is 5 percent.

We are in a good place. Your city is financially healthy, and has good leadership at its helm. The City of Casa Grande is a great place to live, work and play!

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.” – Winston Churchill

Happy Holidays everyone, and let’s achieve the impossible!