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Minutes of the Work Session held December 10, 2001 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

 

Members Present                                 

Mayor Ronald Drake and Council Members                                         Marie Lopez Rogers

                                                                                                            Peggy Jones

                                                                                                            Stephanie Karlin

                                                                                                            Raymond Shuey

                                                                                                            Betty Lynch

                                                                                                            Albert Carroll, Jr.

                                                                                                           

ALSO PRESENT                                           

Scott Schrader, City Manager

Andrew McGuire, City Attorney                        

 

2)         WORK SESSION - TRANSIT

The City Council discussed funding options available for future transit services.

 

Scott Schrader, City Manager, stated that the purpose of the item was to discuss current and projected future funding scenarios for transit.  He stated that the item was continued from a previous work session.  He stated that a couple of Council members requested that a specific discussion take place so that Jim Dickey, Deputy Director of Operations, Regional Public Transportation Authority (RPTA), could provide some history and a brief overview of the RPTA’s current operations.  He stated that some follow-up information from the first work session would be provided.  He stated that Council Member Jones wished to discuss another transit initiative that some initial, conceptual work had been done on.  He stated that Council Member Lynch distributed information on something that she wished to discuss.  He stated that the discussion would be opened up to the rest of the Council for any other questions.  He stated that Council members could continue to think about the “big picture issue” in terms of where the City would like to go in the way of future transit service while keeping in mind the financial overview that was presented at the last work session.  He stated that could also be juxtaposed against the projected, future service needs and demands and look at some potential modifications to the existing routes.  He stated that the Council may also want to talk about potential, required, additional service and how to best plan for that.

 

Mr. Jim Dickey, Deputy Director of RPTA, thanked the Mayor and Council for allowing him to be there that evening.  He stated that he was always anxious to talk about the RPTA and some of the opportunities to serve residents of Avondale and the rest of Maricopa County.  He stated that with him that evening, was a member of the RPTA planning staff, Anne MacCracken.  He stated that between the two of them, he wished to take a few minutes to go over some of the big picture items, from the RPTA’s perspective, then allow the Council to ask questions.  He stated that he distributed a folder of information and apologized for it being so dated.  He stated that the fact sheets that were enclosed were over a year old and he was in the process of redoing those.  He stated that along with other information in the folder, there was some operating statistics from the year 2000.  He stated that some other interesting information was in there in terms of where the RPTA was in a funding scenario. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that there were a couple of issues he wished to discuss in terms of what was happening with the RPTA and where he believed the immediate and long term future was.  He stated that as the Council knew, Council Member Jones was an executive member of the RPTA Board and she was pretty familiar with the issues as well.  He stated that the main thing he wanted to bring to the Council’s attention was that the RPTA was affected by two pieces of legislation.  He stated that some may have heard that the RPTA was going to go away in the Year 2002 and that was not quite true.  He stated that in Year 2005, the funding piece of the RPTA that was provided as part of the Regional Area Road Fund would go away.  He stated that was literally the case presently, because there was not a renewal mechanism for that tax nor an opportunity to extend that tax prior to its expiration.  He stated that as a result, there was originally a $5 million figure inflated annually that went to the RPTA and amounted to around $7 million or more.  He stated that in December of 2005, that funding source would go away.  He stated that the RPTA funding legislation that created it did not change but still remained as an operating entity.  He stated that absent that fund obviously, it would cause some problems. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that of the nearly $7 million that was received through the RARF, over $5 million of that was actually invested in service on behalf of all of the members.  He stated that assumedly at some point, and what he had been working on very diligently for the last several months, was to determine a way to begin to buy down that amount of money that the RPTA spent.  He stated that he was also trying to find a way that everyone could begin to share in that cost in the eventuality that the money did not come back.  He stated that the outcome was that the RARF was probably the absolute number one issue from his perspective, not only in terms of the money it could bring to transit but obviously, he believed it was a necessary funding source for the regional because it also was the “freeway tax”.  He stated that just because it may have been believed that it was done once a freeway system was built, it did not mean that it did not need to be maintained and operated or expanded upon in some way. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he also saw that the funding source, the RARF, was estimated to bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million annually under its half cent assessment.  He stated that he saw the split being a little bit different from the $7 million presently.  He stated that he would like to see when that tax was renewed, that there be a little bit more equitable split between freeways and transit to help fund some of the needs that otherwise went unfunded in the region.  He stated that the RPTA had the authority to represent all of Maricopa County and there were a lot of areas in the County that did not receive any direct benefit from the RPTA.  He stated that he believed those were issues that needed to be addressed as well.  He stated that was probably about as quick of a funding history that he could give on the RPTA. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that the RPTA had several other sources of funds that came to it and most of them were federal funds.  He stated that the federal government provided funding in several ways through operating and capital investments either formula or discretionary programs.  He stated that there were four of those and one was known as the Formula Funds or the 5307 program.  He stated that program represented mostly capital improvements in which the City of Avondale and others like it participated in a process to identify what those capital expenditures were.  He stated that by the way, one was sitting right outside the door earlier that evening.  He stated that the 5309 funds from the federal government were purely discretionary.  He stated that there was a little bit of Formula 5309 but it was discretionary and that funding had typically been earmarked for giant projects. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that those projects included massive purchases of buses or for other giant capital infrastructure kinds of programs, facilities and programs.  He stated that the Council was familiar with that because in the past, the City had actually been successful in lobbying the congressional delegation to receive some of those funds as well.  He stated that along with that, there were STP, CMAC, Congestion Mitigation Air Quality money that came to the region either through the Arizona Department of Transportation or because it was a non-attainment area.  He stated that those moneys eventually percolated down to the RPTA because they had other sources of that were funded by them that were not transit.  He stated that at any rate, all of those combined into putting together a budget that was considerably more than the $7 million that the part of the state RARF brought to the table.  He stated that he was trying to think of any other funding issues he wanted to address at that time. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that there were a couple of other things he wanted to discuss very briefly before allowing time for questions.  He stated that there were a couple of things he wanted to bring to the Council’s attention and believed the Council may be aware of some of them.  He stated that the RPTA worked cooperatively with the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) to put together a wide variety of programs.  He stated that there were three in particular he thought were very important to the Council.  He stated that he thought the Council may be aware that MAG was currently going through a reevaluation and a reprogram of the long range plan. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that the long range plan was a 20 year plan that was currently being completely redone and was a massive project.  He stated that there were three, particular studies or components of that plan including the Southwest Subarea Study, which he thought Avondale was a part of.  He stated that just recently, the City probably had a kick off meeting about that.  He stated that there was also, near and dear to a couple of people’s hearts, a commuter rail high capacity study and that study was a 12 month study that was just getting underway and should be complete in December 2002.  He stated that the third, was a regional transit system study conducted in the RPTA offices.  He stated that the study would try to define the costs and capital needs for a transit system under what he believed was an adequately funded, constrained program for the next 20 years. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that in and of itself, it was an aggressive program because it would assume a major, regional, funding source anywhere from $100 million or more.  He stated that those three things were part of the long range planning process.  He stated that he believed those were crucial not only to the future growth of transit for the citizens of Avondale, but the rest of Maricopa County.  He stated that he tried to go through things very quickly and thought at that stage, what he wanted to do was try to entertain some questions about the RPTA.  He stated that he knew that the last time he talked about how LTAF contributions gained memberships into the organization.  He stated that the house bill money was also discussed and where it was going.  He stated that to be truthful, unless someone had heard something that day, he still did not know what special session had done to that program.  He stated that he was happy to entertain questions at that time and help with answers.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that in the packet, was information that Ms. MacCracken provided that had to do with the current program and what he believed were the estimated expenditures for that program.  He stated that the Council may be interested in some of the scenarios of information if changes were made.  He stated that one of things that was discussed was looking at modifying service on the express and looking at service in some other way on the north side of the community that may serve in some other way.  He stated that what he tried to do was identify what the City’s investments were in the Express service, the 560 and 561, and identify the current investment in the 131 in ball park figures.  He stated that from there, he tried to identify other options on whether the Council wanted to swap and trade or invest more or less and what some of those things may mean to the service.  He stated that he was happy to answer any questions about that as well.

 

Mayor Drake asked how the grant funding from congress affected the City.  He knew it could only benefit the City but asked if there was any necessity to look at alternative funding since the City had gotten that.  He asked if that would allow the City to relax a little bit.

 

Mr. Schrader stated that in the presentation at the last work session, staff had really plugged in that money in anticipation of being successful.  He stated that he did not think the City could relax, because as the presentation showed, the City was still projecting further, potential, general fund subsidies for transit service in the following fiscal year 2003-04.  He stated that the Council still needed to look hard at seeing if other sources of funds could be identified.  He stated that one option was to work collaboratively with everyone in the region who viewed transit as being vital in terms of the renewal of the half cent sales tax and trying to get a different split for transit.  He stated that hopefully, all of the communities would benefit with an additional amount of funding that they could use for those services that they deemed to be a priority within their respective communities. 

 

Mr. Schrader stated that in taking a cursory look, if the Council was looking to potentially expand service to serve another segment of the community, they would still be scurrying trying to find additional money because it was not a wash.  He stated that if Route 561 was eliminated, and no one had committed to that and it was just a conceptual thought at the last meeting, that would save $66,000.  He stated that if the Council wished to add the additional early morning trip departure for Route 131, that was $48,000.  He stated that would save only the difference of that.  He stated that if the Council wished to add a new route to the north side of the City, the cost would be from $158,000 to $223,000.  He stated that the City would still be looking for money and the federal funds were only good for, the way the City programmed them, a two year period.  He stated that some was programmed for the current year and more to carryover to the next fiscal year.  He stated that the City would be right back at it, as he mentioned for Fiscal Year 2003-04 and beyond unless a more stable, dedicated revenue source could be in place.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she guessed she had one question.  She stated that assumedly, Mr. Dickey was going to try to get the half cent sales tax renewed.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that there was no question that somehow, the RPTA wanted to see that happen.

 

Council Member Lynch asked if it would be done pure or with a stipulation that so much was wanted for transit and so much for roads.  She asked how Mr. Dickey envisioned that taking place.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he envisioned that taking place in terms of having some stipulated split of the revenue source as part of the program to have it renewed or extended.  He stated that the talk had generally always been 50/50.  He stated that how that would work out, he did not know.  He stated that he would go into it knowing that and would not wait until after it was established in order to make that decision.

 

Council Member Lynch asked what the split was currently. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he estimated it at somewhere over $200 million annual source in which the RPTA got $7 million.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that it was not a very favorable split for transit.

 

Mayor Drake stated that he did not believe there were any other questions for Mr. Dickey.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he would not run off and wanted to hear the Council’s discussion and would be happy to join in.  He stated that if there were any other questions by Council as they went along, he was more than happy to try to answer them. 

 

Council Member Jones stated that in listening to Mr. Dickey, she wanted to make a few some comments.  She stated that in doing so, she would take her Council member hat off and put her Start hart on.  She stated that it was the goal of the Start Committee to take advantage of the job access reverse commute grant to use those dollars and the potential dollars for services in the cities.  She stated that she said that plurally and did not just mean the City of Avondale but all of the cities including Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Tolleson and those in the southwest valley.  She stated that she did not think it was ever the intent of the Committee that the federal government would be providing transportation for the City.  She stated that she did not think it was ever that intent.  She stated that she thought the intent was that the funds would be utilized as a proving ground to be able to prove 1) that the service was needed; 2) that it would be utilized;  and 3) that it would be a good service to be accessed. 

 

Council Member Jones stated that the Committee knew that it had a five year timeline and that it was the broadest timeline that could be had.  She stated that she wanted to make that comment that she did not think that it was ever intended that the federal government would be looked to for a piggy bank, so to speak to support the City of Avondale.  She stated that she was very grateful that there was a letter in front of the Council that evening to thank the representatives for their support in that effort and she thanked them.  She stated that she did not think that Avondale should be totally depended on their good will forever.  She stated that she thought five years was a pretty good timeline.  She stated that she also wanted to say that there were few days that went by that she did not received inquiries or requests for service for other areas for the City of Avondale.  She stated that she received inquiries from people for example, that wished to use the physical therapy clinics on Indian School Road.  She stated that it was not limited to the southern area.  She stated that the southern area was a good proving ground, it had worked well and done well and had exceeded.  She stated that as a city, personally, she saw that transit service should be right there with other services such as water, sewer, police and fire.  She stated that those were services, that she, personally, believed the City should provide.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she guessed her comment would be, and everyone knew pretty much where she stood on things, that she did not believe in federal funding.  She stated, that said, if everyone else was going to do it, then why shouldn’t they.  She stated that she came from the east coast where everything was heavily, federally subsidized.  She stated that those citizens could not possibly afford to run all of the commuter trains from Boston and Connecticut into New York everyday without all of that funding.  She asked why Avondale should not have their fair share.  She stated that if no one else was doing it she would agree, but the residents were paying their taxes and she did not know why they should not have their fair share of those dollars toward transit.  She stated that she also agreed with Council Member Jones in that the Council needed to find a way to service more of the community.  She stated that had been discussed in every arena and thought that transportation needed to be added to that. 

 

Council Member Lynch stated that what was fair for one should be fair for the others.  She stated that there were a lot of people who would take a lot of pollution off of the streets and could make better use of their time if they had the ability to take a bus to work and work on that bus or whatever.  She stated that it would also be for all of the people that needed to get to doctor’s appointments and to shop.  She stated that she thought the Council really needed to make a concerted effort to look into that whole situation.  She stated that she realized there were costs involved however, those people were paying taxes as well.  She stated that she thought that the Council had to take a look at that.  She stated that there was a study approximately one year prior on sources of tax funding and so forth within the City.  She stated that it was not fair to not give everyone a fair shake for their dollar.

 

Council Member Carroll stated that he wanted to express his appreciation for Council Member Jones and the work that she had done in the past.  He stated that he knew Council Member Jones would continue help the City get public transit to the people because something was definitely needed and was being utilized.  He stated that there was a high dollar cost as everyone knew and to make public transit pay for itself like a lot of other things, would make it disappear.  He stated that the cost would be prohibitive.  He stated that although cars could run up and down the streets and highways just like a bus, the benefit of riding on a bus in a public transit situation, he believed, far outweighed the single family or single person’s automobile. He stated that Council Member Lynch made the comment about her objection to the acceptance of federal funds.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she said that if everyone else was using the funds then Avondale should too.

 

Council Member Carroll stated that he heard Council Member Lynch say that after she said that she was against them.  He stated that he knew that Council Member Lynch prefaced it by saying if other people were paying taxes and they were getting help, then likewise, Avondale should also.  He stated that he wholeheartedly agreed with Council Member Lynch.  He stated that he would definitely be for the City to accept federal funds until that time that federal funds were no longer collected.  He stated that if that was stopped, he would say keep the money and give it to someone else.  He stated that he did not think that was going to happen.  He stated that as long as the funds were collected, he thought that the Council had an obligation, on behalf of the constituents, to go after every cent possible as often and as long as possible.

 

Council Member Shuey stated that the Council talked a lot about federal funding and the acceptance of federal funds.  He stated that he thought the Council also needed to look closer to home and the state.  He stated that some of the state senators and state representatives that had sponsored legislation in the past had made it difficult to provide public transportation.  He stated that as a City, he believed, the Council needed to meet with those legislators and make clear that the City supported public transit and agencies like the RPTA.  He stated that as the City’s representatives and state senators, the City anticipated that they would also support public transit for the benefit of their constituents who were also the Council’s constituents.

 

Mr. Schrader stated that he wanted to ask a question of Mr. Dickey.  He stated that wanted to ask if the renewal of the half cent sales tax, he recalled from Mr. Kyle’s presentation at the last meeting, out of the total $7 million that was allocated for transit, Avondale got a little under $11,000.  He stated that under the best case scenarios, presuming that the distribution formula for the different cities would not be drastically altered, if he was talking about a 50/50 split.  He heard someone say that and asked if that was too aggressive between freeway and transit.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he did not believe it was too aggressive but that it was a realistic goal.  He stated that one of the issues that would eventually come to the table in terms of what ever the money was that came to the RPTA was how that money would be turned around and be distributed to the members throughout Maricopa County.  He stated that issue had yet to be flushed out.  He stated that there were two camps on whether it should be a population or revenue sharing kind of formula or in fact, and what he believed he was aiming at presently, was to try to go through a very detailed needs assessment to make sense out of investments regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.  He stated that how the money was split to begin with and how it was distributed throughout Maricopa County were still issues that needed to be discussed under some type of agreement.  He stated that maybe Council Member Jones may wish to weigh in on that a little bit.  He stated that Council Member Jones and he had those discussions.

 

Mr. Schrader stated that what he was getting at was if the proportionality stayed the same.  He stated that he heard Mr. Dickey saying that it may not because a fresh look would be taken at it.  He stated that even if it was increased to a 50/50 split, the City’s share was not insignificant and better than $11,000.  He stated that it would go to $120,000 to $150,000.  He stated that would not be enough to even cover a modest increase in the service and just along one linear stretch of roadway or two going down Indian School to the community college.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he did not know the math and apologized for not knowing what the City’s percentage was.  He stated that along with that came some interesting scenarios about whether the money might be additional money.  He stated that he thought the issue at that stage and what he had seen from the Cities of Phoenix, Tempe, to a lesser degree Mesa, and his suspicion for the City of Glendale as well, was that the money they contributed from their general fund would not go down but would continue to go up along with what ever regional money came to the table to provide transit service.  He stated that he thought there would always be some amount of local investment and he did not expect the regional money would completely cover the regional need.  He stated that if he could go a step further with that, he stated that it was complicated by how light rail might be perceived in the community and eventually, how commuter rail may be perceived, how the money might be split off to address of those needs and how that would affect the portion.  He stated that as a general assumption, he believed at that stage, the operating costs for light rail would be general fund dollars and were pretty big. 

 

Mr. Dickey stated that the contribution the federal government was making presently, was about a 50/50 split to build light rail and that was just a capital investment on a billion dollar project.  He stated that the operating money was still left pass around somewhere as well.  He stated that the money was federal government money and he congratulated Avondale for being creative for finding sources to help fund operations.  He stated that the normal situation was that federal money was usually capital money and very little of it went to fund the operations of service.  He stated that in New York City, the capital budget was a number he could not even say but that the fact was that the number was put together by local investors.

 

Mr. Schrader asked if the light or commuter rail service was to be extended out in Avondale at some time in the future, and the revenue from the half cent sales tax was renewed with a different split and a larger pool of money to allocate, if the operational cost would be an eligible item to be covered by that half cent sales tax revenue source.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that there was no question that it would be an eligible source of funds toward that.  He stated that one of the reasons he wanted to do the commuter rail high capacity study was to position that study as a regional project.  He stated that he believed it was very important to begin to position that like ADOT had done for a long time in terms of a 20 or more year plan about where infrastructure improvements were.  He stated that he wanted commuter rail to be viewed as a regional project and that required the belief that those miles were in part funded by money that would come from a RARF type tax.  He stated that the same would be true then of light rail, presently it was a three city project but Glendale, Scottsdale and Chandler were knocking on the door.  He stated that his belief was that because he was used to federal money as part of the match for that project, in reality it was a regional project in terms of an investment of operating dollars

 

Council Member Jones stated that she wanted to add onto a couple of things that Mr. Dickey spoke of.  She stated that she attended a conference that past week for the Arizona Transit Association Legislative Conference and out of that conference, she found that there was not only that proposal but several others.  She stated that the Vision 21 proposal was another one.  She stated that out of that proposal, she believed there was an approximate 10% to 11% that would be allocated for transit and the rest for highway dollars.  She stated that there were a lot of proposals going around and she would put her start hat on again, if she might.  She stated that another proposal was one that the Start had been advocating, and she apologized to the Council for being a bit late in getting the information to them.  She stated that the Start organization had been advocating for a commuter rail demonstration project. 

 

Council Member Jones stated that she heard a lot about light rail, that it was wonderful to a lot of folks and a great thing but it was also very expensive.  She stated that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million to $50 million per mile.  She stated that in looking at the potential for the southwest valley, there was a possibility that the Union Pacific Railroad could be used to initiate a commuter rail program.  She stated that in doing that, she wanted to do a demonstration which would last about two weeks and cost a maximum of $125,000.  She stated that the rail demo would go from Phoenix to Palo Verde.  She stated that talks were held with the Palo Verde people and a lot of other folks.  She stated that there was nothing concrete at that time but that she was working toward that goal.  She stated that the opportunity for the City of Avondale to have “light rail”, in her estimation, would be in 30 years.  She stated that there was also the possibility that Avondale could have a commuter rail before the City of Phoenix had light rail. 

 

Council Member Jones stated that those were the things she was looking at and wanted to have a demonstration to provide data and community interest and support.  She stated that she obtained the interest from the sister cities including Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Tolleson.  She stated that the fact was that there was no money.  She stated that the money was all gone and there was no money in the future.  She said, “If we don’t plan, we will not do.”  She stated that she was finding now that the things the Start committee did such as employer surveys, demonstrations, and job access reverse commute were coming to fruition that were not envisioned six years prior.  She stated that she hoped that the commuter rail would work in conjunction with the high capacity commuter study that was presently ongoing.  She stated that she provided the Council with a copy and added a copy of the Arizona Rail Passenger Association Commuter Rail Corridor Plan.  She stated that the Plan was presented at a conference in August 2000.  She stated that she had a copy for each one of the Council members and was pleased to answer any questions in that regard.

 

Mr. Schrader stated that it would be good to get an additional flavor from the Council members on where they wanted to go from there.  He stated that some things were thrown out such as whether the existing route structure be modified in the short term looking at adding service.  He stated that some things were just presented that evening and no definitive decisions needed to be made and maybe more discussion was needed.  He stated that if he could get some preliminary direction or at least some thoughts on where the Council wanted to go, that would be good.  He stated that as the previous presentation showed, the City was operating under some financial constraints not unlike every other community.  He stated that Mr. Dickey said that no one was looking at trying to eliminate the current general fund contribution to transit but were really looking at trying to minimize the extent of the general fund additional contribution in the future if that was at all possible.  He stated that was in light of the other priorities that the Council had identified. 

 

Mr. Schrader stated that the ideal would be to allocate a decent amount of money from the general fund for all of the required services.  He stated that there were constraints though.  He stated that the Council went through priorities and identified transit, at the goal setting retreat, as being a priority under the economic development financial liability section.  He stated that what he would like to get was some further direction of where the Council wanted to go as far as some basic issues.  He asked if the Council wanted to keep the service the way it was at least for the next couple of years or propose any modifications for staff to look into further.  He stated that staff could see what the budgetary ramifications were and if there some creative funding options or plans.  He stated that was the type of direction he thought would be useful to help the Council implement what their desires were in the way of modifying, if they wanted to, the transit service in any way.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she knew that Mr. Schrader was working on a session with the legislators.  She stated that she thought Council Member Shuey was absolutely right.  She stated that she said it at the planning session retreat.  She stated that she did not think the City was getting from the legislators, in many areas, what was needed.  She stated that in being fairly new to the valley, she was stunned with some of the things that were in the last report from Michael Powell, Organizational Management/Grants Coordinator.  She stated that it was almost if, in some cases, the legislators were working against the City.  She stated that she thought it was one of the big issues that needed to be included on that agenda. 

 

Council Member Lynch stated that in addition, until the City got the technical high school, and she knew everyone had been working to move that along quickly, there were some needs of the residents who went to Glendale Community College.  She stated that the technical things that were needed such as truck driving and cutting large sheets of metal and so forth, and those particular classes were only offered in Glendale.  She stated that in many cases, the students did not have transportation.  She stated that they were very skilled young people but they needed to get there.  She stated that one of the things she wanted to see was what it would cost to run a route to Glendale Community College.  She asked what it would cost as Council Member Jones just said, to go up to some of the facilities along Indian School Road or McDowell Road.  She asked if the Council could get some general figures as to what those additional things would cost.  She stated that she thought it would help the Council to make the decisions that they needed to make to move the people to be able to provide jobs for them.

 

Council Member Shuey stated that Council Member Lynch made a good point about Glendale Community College which reminded of something he had brought up over the years.  He stated that it was regarding the Start and Luke Link Route 70 Bus out of downtown Glendale.  He stated that currently, those buses came within roughly two miles of each other but did not connect.  He stated that if the buses were to connect, it would provide an easy way for someone to get from Estrella Mountain Community College to Glendale Community College.  He stated that the Start Bus could be taken to Glendale Avenue and the Luke Link could be taken to 59th Avenue.  He stated that the 59th Avenue bus could be taken to the college which would be easy.

 

Council Member Shuey stated that was something that he wanted to look at.  He stated that he realized it was an extra cost item also to cover that last two miles.  He stated that he thought it would be of real value to actually have Route 70 and Route 131connect.  He stated that not only would a person be able to go south and through the Cashion neighborhood to get to Desert Sky but then they could also take the 131 north to connect with Route 70 to get to Luke Air Force Base.  He stated that would be valuable for some of the retirees that lived in the City that were retired from Luke or also to get to the college.  He stated that his second point, was in looking at the transit service cost, if he interpreted it correctly, and wanted to ensure that he was, the current cost for the 561 Bus was $66,385.  He stated that the cost for Avondale’s share only of adding one trip in the morning for the 131 was $25,000.  He stated that Avondale’s share for Saturday service was $48,000 roughly.  He stated that in doing the math, it looked like if the 561 was done away with in favor of one additional 131 route, it would take care of the issue of people who needed an early bus to get to work which was why they rode the 5:40 a.m., 561 currently.  He stated that the City would be able to cover that for an incremental difference of about $7,000 per year and would be able to provide Saturday service on the 131.  He asked if he was reading that correctly.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that it was important to note that what Council Member Shuey was suggesting was a transfer of those passengers that were going all of the way from the Avondale area to downtown.  He stated that the fact was that the City could easily change the 161 and have more service on the Start route and probably meet the same need and do it at a lesser rate.  He stated that the 561 would continue to pull out mostly likely in the Desert Sky area as just a Phoenix only bus route if in fact the City quit investing in those miles.  He stated that the trip would still remain if someone wanted to get that transfer.

 

Council Member Shuey thanked Mr. Dickey and stated that he, for one, would like to see that be investigated because a common question he heard was why the City did not have Saturday service.  He stated that he thought it was interesting in reading the West Valley View that last week and there was a lady, and he apologized for not being able to recall her name, but she was a long time resident of the Avondale area going back 40 or 50 years.  He stated that the lady said that she could remember when there was hourly bus service to Phoenix before cars became so prevalent and people started driving back and forth to Phoenix.  He stated that it was not really a new idea but an old idea to provide bus service for those who needed it back and forth between Avondale and Phoenix on a regular basis.

 

Council Member Jones stated that she just wanted to make a comment regarding Council Member Shuey’s comments.  She stated that she fully agreed.  She stated that she also agreed with Council Member Lynch.  She stated that the City needed to get the folks where they needed to go such as jobs, daycare and those necessary destinations.  She stated that certainly, the City could not provide sheet metal classes at the local skill center and could not connect with Glendale.  She stated that the Council needed to be very careful regarding the 131 dollars and stay within the confines of that grant.  She stated that it must be job access, education for jobs and those types of things.  She stated that the Council must be able to justify any changes made to those routes.  She stated that if any changes were made to those routes in that regard, she was certainly 100% for it.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she agreed with Council Member Jones and thought that the Council would because of the different skills that were offered at that college that were not available at the skill center.

 

Mayor Drake stated that he thought he felt like everyone else in that the City had looked for every service it could offer.  He stated that he knew there were dollar restrictions on every decision that was made.  He stated that what ever could be done as far as offering additional service, he was all for.  He stated that his bigger concern though was if the City could afford it.  He stated that any suggestions from the Council he could support but not at the cost of other services.  He stated that he thought everyone agreed with that.  He stated that sending staff to go out to look at other alternatives for additional routes would be great.  He stated that if that would cost the City in some other services, he did not think it was that great and at least not for the current year.  He stated that next year down the road if it could be done and the Council could get some information, he thought that was great.  He stated that was his input.

 

Mr. Schrader stated that one thing that staff could do, from what it sounded like, was to get some direction to explore at a minimum, offering the 561 with the modification to the Start route which might actually be a net gain to the community in terms of service for an additional day.

 

Mayor Drake stated that he did not know how many kids went out to Glendale Community College from the area.  He asked how many legitimate riders the City would be looking at.

 

Council Member Jones stated that was something that needed to be surveyed and could be done through the Start organization.

 

Mr. Schrader stated that was something that he was going to get to.  He stated that the one issue was the 561 and the 131 modifications.  He stated that the next issue would be a potential expansion for something that could tie in conceptually Estrella Community College and the northern section of the City maybe with a spur to Glendale Community College tie in loop.  He stated that Council Member Jones was right that to tie that down before talking about money, further input was needed in terms of what the best route would be to service the residents.  He stated that once that was obtained, a study could be done to see what sort of cost would be associated with that.  He stated that as done in the past, staff could see if there were any creative ways, aside from going back into the general fund, seeing if there was some way to put together a financing package for them.

 

Mr. Schrader asked if there was any further direction from Council Member Jones on the demonstration project in terms of where the group that she was working with was on regarding identifying funds for the demonstration project.  He asked if that was something could continued to be worked on to see if there was any grant money out there for that.

 

Council Member Jones stated that Mr. Powell submitted a grant application under the President’s Economic Stimulus Package.  She stated that she understood the chances were slim to none to get any but she did not think the City could get anything under Job Access and Reverse Commute either and that was in its third year.  She stated that at that time, the planning needed to get done, or what ever the case may be, and at that time would start looking seriously at perhaps corporate funding looking to the RPTA, ADOT, the cities and some corporate funding.  She stated that at best, she thought it would be just a minimum amount from each.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she gave everyone a hand out and Mr. Powell had one too.  She stated that the Council may think it was kind of “pie in the sky” however, it was something that came to her about one month ago which she shared with the Council at the time.  She stated that she had a response from one Council member who agreed that it was something that should be looked at.  She stated that the cost with that particular product was a lot less than any other costs with rail.  She stated that she would really, knowing that it was not on the docket for tomorrow but it was out there, would really like the Council to take a look at it and have staff come back to Council with some ideas as far as the possibility of it and what it would cost and how it might work within Avondale.

 

Mayor Drake asked if the City was ready for it.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she said it was in the future somewhere but it was a lot less costly than some of the other types of rail.

 

Mayor Drake asked if it was in the future, if Council Member Lynch wanted to spend staff time on it presently.

 

Council Member Lynch stated that she wanted to have some general information.

 

Vice Mayor Rogers stated that she did not get a copy.

 

Council Member Jones stated that she just wanted to say, and would take her Council hat off again, that she had just worked with an organization that had been promoting a similar product called the sky tram and she would say that it was a very exciting, very innovative, very unique proposition.  She stated that given the opportunity, it would be very much less expensive than rail, light rail or that sort of thing.  She stated that the only problem was that it had not been done.  She stated that someone had to be the first to do it and she thought that probably Mr. Dickey had some experience like with the sky tram concept.

 

Mr. Dickey stated that he was familiar with the sky tram and a similar concept of that.  He stated that when he first did an evaluation into the light rail minimum operating subject, a variety of alternatives were discussed.  He stated that the idea was conceptual and costly.  He stated that anywhere he had seen some type of elevated rail from Disneyland to Las Vegas, it was very costly.  He stated that he believed there was not much basis for some of the engineering estimates.  He stated that the fact was, that if there was a track or some type of suspension then usually it was more costly than on the ground.  He stated that in looking at all of the alternatives for light rail including elevated or underground or a subway kind of system, the light rail was the most cost effective and that was true in just about every type of community.  He stated that he believed he had some information in his office about some of those conceptual plans and maybe he could save the City some staff time by getting that out to the staff.  He stated that to be truthful, there were a lot of high hopes and so far they had not been founded into any kind of fact.  He stated that it was a good idea though, and that he would be happy to provide that information.

 

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Council, Council Member Carroll moved to adjourn.  Council Member Shuey seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

 

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                     Mayor Drake

 

                                                           

            Linda M. Farris, CMC

                     City Clerk

 

CERTIFICATION

 

I hereby certify that the foregoing minutes are a true and correct copy of the minutes of the work session of the City Council of the City of Avondale held on the 10th day of December, 2001.  I further certify that the meeting was duly called and held and that the quorum was present.

 

                                                           

                     City Clerk