Tempe City Council Candidates Question of the Week

Background: In 2020, the 1/10th of 1% sales tax that was passed to fund the Tempe Center for the Arts will sunset. Since the TCA continues to loose money and appears to be unable to create a viable and sustainable plan for both fundraising and programming to at least achieve a breakeven budget, there is a discussion to launch another ballot initiative to extend the tax maybe indefinitely.

Question 9:

Since the Tempe City Council has in the past fulfilled its pledge to sunset temporary sales taxes, will you be in favor of a voter-approved extension of the TCA tax given the past and present ongoing losses being incurred by the Tempe Center for the Arts?

Stanley Nicpon

Matthew Papke
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It is about accountability. Take this excerpt from a recent article relating to a found $1.5MM. “It looks like Ken Jones and Andrew Ching set the council up to look like the fools they are.”Hotchy Kiene, chairman of the commission and arts commissioner David Kephart told the The Republic they were aware that the fund had a $1.5 million savings, but they said the city, not the commission, controls the fund’s budget.” Commissioner David Lucier was surprised to learn of the unused money. ”I certainly was not aware we have a million dollars in the (account)” he said.” (full article)

Clearly something is amiss here. Should the tax payers suffer the expenses to support an Art’s Center that is unable to reconcile it’s books properly?

In 2012 the expenses for the Art Center were $8.5MM the revenue generate was $782,000 from services. True there was a large principle payment made to the fund, but the operating costs far exceed revenues generated. $1.4MM was spent on interest on the debt and $2.5MM in community service costs aka (operating costs). (page 126)

I would vote no at this time to renewing a tax on a project that shows no promise at breaking even at this point. It is time to start treating the public’s money like we would our own. At this time the Arts Center seems like a very bad financial investment. At the very least there should be management shake ups and a restructuring, just like would take place in the real world.

There are those who will say I dislike art. They are wrong. Come to my house, you will find a variety of musical instruments and many pieces of art, additionally I study and practice traditional arts daily. What I do dislike is abuse of the public trust and tax base. If we are able to turn the TCA around I would be happy to be a part of that, but the sunset should be upheld and the TCA should stand on it’s own, via public usage or charitable contributions or any combination thereof.

Shana Ellis
shana ellis

If requested, I am in favor of putting an item on the ballot to ask the Tempe citizens if they would support extending the tax for the Tempe Center for Arts. The tax originally was voter approved. Any extension of that tax should be brought back to the voters. I would support putting that question on the ballot.

Dick Foreman

Dick Foreman

No, I am not in favor of a permanent tax increase.  There are several reasons.  First of all, boutique or “vanity” taxes applied to our sales tax or other revenue streams are very poor tax policy.  Every group has wonderful arguments about why they are special and should not have to compete in front of the public in open meeting for their needs to be met in the context of the entire budget.  But that’s precisely what should happen to ensure we have the most thoughtful discussion and make the touch choices in front of all Tempe.  No backroom deals.

For example, I could point out that there are absolutely critical needs in our senior and elderly community, and many programs for our youth would certainly fit this argument.  Sidebar revenue streams for job creation, parks, alley clean-up or additional neighborhood safety are all, equally valuable discussions, persuasive and valid for vanity taxes.  I would oppose each and every one of those.  In my lengthy experience with taxes, bad policy does not make up for scratching political itches.  It simply remains bad policy.

We need to get away from these “vanity” proposals in Tempe.  They simply reduce the General Fund Revenue stream and tie the hands of future councils whether that particular revenue stream is actually needed at the level it funds or not and in spite of all future exigencies that might arise.  I’ve seen this unfortunate phenomenon, in spite of the best of intentions, with state parks monies devoted to building a certain amount of new trails every year.  When the state went in to the great recession, building new hiking trails had a protected revenue stream even though most any policy maker would have rather not cut so deeply into education funding to balance the budget.  We could have done with a lot more funding for a real crisis, our children’s educational needs, before hacking away in the desert to build a new trail. The more vanity we bring in to our tax structure, the more limitations we have in the future to fairly assess and fund the needs in our community.

An equally important part of your question is the “deal” made with voters.  When we tell voters that a tax will be “temporary” we must not go back on our word.  How can any policy maker then, in the future, especially if dealing with a true crisis in budget management, assures that a “temporary” tax is all we need and the voter says, “yeah, sure, just like the last time.”

Trust is so important, especially in taxation.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, never misrepresent, no matter how popular the cause.  That is not the issue.  So, for example, I don’t need a public opinion survey that says Tempeans support the Tempe Center for the Arts and might consider extending the temporary tax.  My deal is, we told Tempe we wouldn’t do that.  Indeed, politics is not always convenient.  But trust, to me, is not negotiable.  Politics is not always doing what most people want in a snapshot of time.  Leadership is knowing the difference.

And finally, as far as being absolutely committed and a supporter of the TCA Foundation and it’s future endeavors, I’m “all in.”  But this needs to be an effort in harmony with our city budget, our city staff and our community supporters and volunteers, not an admission that we have failed to manage the revenue stream already so generously provided by our taxpayers with the result being, “well, we failed to secure our future with what we received, let’s do this again!”

Robin Arredondo-Savage

The Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA) is a modern art center by Tempe Town Lake with a varied performing arts schedule, gallery, art education and a beautiful special events venue. It is one of my favorite places in Tempe. Our Community Services Department is in the process of creating an Arts Master Plan that will include the TCA. This will be helpful in guiding future operations, programming, marketing and funding to help ensure a healthy and vibrant community arts center.

Our voters passed the initial arts tax, so I support referring a question to the ballot to ask our residents if they want to continue it. However, I believe that both City Council and Staff have a responsibility to first analyze the existing programming, identify new, creative funding streams and look for ways to streamline operations. The Arts can many times be similar to Transportation: they are both usually subsidized to some extent if they are to remain truly viable. In this new day in age though, we have to focus on being more creative when it comes to sources of revenue. Just simply looking to our general fund or asking for new taxes should not be the primary option. Grants and public-private partnerships must be explored to assist with funding. Overall, a true, innovative strategic Arts plan can ensure that the TCA remains a crown jewel for all Tempe residents and visitors for decades to come.

Lauren Kuby

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It’s interesting to note that the City does not make a profit on our parks and recreation, yet budgetary support for the parks is unquestioned. We should also note that Chandler and Mesa have similar sized centers for the arts, and It is uncommon for such centers to be self-sustaining.

Businesses looking to locate in a given city examine at a host of factors, including schools, parks, neighborhoods, and, yes, cultural amenities. Although we need to continually evaluate and improve costs of operation, the net gain and value to our community is worth the cost of supporting TCA’s wide and varied programming.

The number and variety of performances and events at TCA are growing from year to year. In fiscal Year 2014 alone, TCA hosted 919 events attended by over 184K visitors and brought in over $695K in revenue. Here are the metrics:

• 535 performance events (including 129 school matinees)
• 292 business events
• 56 social events
• 36 gallery events
• 100 concerts

A 2012 survey conducted by the Behavior Research Center confirmed the value of TCA’s role in the community and found that most Tempe residents support making permanent the sales tax that funds the TCA. So yes, I would favor a voter-approved extension of the TCA tax if need be.

There is a current RFP out to craft a Master Plan for TCA; it will help our residents to decide upon concrete plans for the generating additional revenue and supporting the arts. With an improving economy and sustainable solutions to consider such as selling the naming rights to create revenue and expanding and enhancing the programming, we may not need to extend the tax. One thing is clear: the arts are essential to Tempe and our growing status as world-class city.

If you have a question please email it to: editor@tempethoughts.com

Quote of the week

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them

– Albert Einstein












Tempe Police Arrest Suspect Who Stole City Bus

This Morning at about 7:30 AM, 21 year old Patric Moonie (DOB: 03/30/1992) stole a City of Tempe Orbit bus in front  of the Tempe Transit Center, located at 200 E. 5th St. The bus was left running and was not occupied when Moonie stole it. Moonie fled the area in the bus, but was located in the area of 13th St. and Mill Ave. Tempe by a patrol officer.


Patrol officers attempted to stop the bus, which pulled into a cul-de-sac in the 100 block of W. Hudson St. at which time Moonie drove through the yard and backyard of a residence, knocking down a fence to drive onto the railroad tracks. Moonie then drove approximately ¼ mile on the tracks to the area of College and 15th St. where he jumped out of the moving vehicle, which then crashed into the back wall of a house.


Moonie tried to flee the area on foot at which time he jumped into the backyard of a residence where the resident was outside with his large dogs. The dogs began to bark at Moonie, causing him to remain still until officers were able to place him into custody.


Patric Moonie was arrested for multiple charges to include theft of motor vehicle and criminal trespass.

Apartment tower, Whole Foods planned for downtown Tempe

By:  – Kristena Hansen  Phoenix Business Journal

A failed mixed-use project in downtown Tempe that once promised a condominium high-rise and a Whole Foods grocery store is being revived.

Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Alberta Development Partners LLC paid $6.1 million for less than 2 vacant acres at the northwest corner of University Drive and Ash Avenue in a deal that closed this week, according to a statement from CBRE Inc.Brookfield Asset Management was the seller.

The company plans to spend another $80 million to $100 million erecting a mid-rise or high-rise apartment tower there with a ground-level grocery store over the next several years.

Nearly a decade ago, the 1.86-acre parcel was slated for a similar project dubbed Mosaic that called for a high-rise condo tower and ground-level Whole Foods. The developer at the time, KML Development, never got the project off the ground due to the downfall of its lender, the now-defunct Mortgages Ltd.

The announcement of this new project comes at a time when commercial development, especially high-end multifamily, has been exploding in Tempe’s urban core. It would also fill a void for the downtown area’s growing number of residents, who currently do not have a nearby grocery store.

Don Provost, founder and principal of Alberta Development, declined to name the grocer, but sources close to the deal who did not want to be named said Whole Foods has signed letter of intent to occupy the space.


“We announce our new store locations quarterly — just announced two yesterday,” said Whole Foods spokeswoman Marci Frumkin. “This (the proposed Tempe location) is not one of them and we have nothing on our dockets for now with regard to a Tempe site.”


Frumkin did not specifically comment on the letter of intent.


Provost also declined to say how large the retail space would be and whether the grocer would occupy the entire space, so it is unclear whether there will be enough space for a full-scale Whole Foods like those in Scottsdale and Chandler. A smaller Whole Foods in Tempe is about four miles from the new project.


Parking for the grocery store will be underground, while residents will have their own garage stacked in between the ground-level retail and the high-end apartments, he said.


Provost said many details — such as the tower’s height and whether the apartments will be self-managed — are still up in the air, noting the deal happened in a brisk 30 days.


Thus, more time is needed to examine the area, particularly the constant growth of the adjacent Arizona State University main campus and other non-university related developments nearby such as USA Place and State Farm Insurance’s regional headquarters.


“There’s a lot of dynamics in that market right now … it’s a unique opportunity,” Provost said.

Construction on the project — a first in the Phoenix area for Alberta Development — could start this fall and wrap up within two years, he said.


“The property at University and Ash is one of the single most sought-after vacant land parcels in the metro area,” Barry Gabel, a CBRE broker who helped represent the seller, said in a statement. “The site’s downtown Tempe location, adjacency to Arizona State University, current entitlements and frontage along both University Drive and Ash Avenue make it an ideal location for future development.”

Quote of the week






“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… and that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

Recruitment begins for Tempe Leadership Class XXX

tempe leadership 

Tempe, AZ – Tempe Leadership is seeking applicants for their 2014-2015 program, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Tempe Leadership and welcoming prospective members for Class XXX at a March recruitment reception. Anyone interested in applying can get more information and talk with current class members and alumni at the reception planned for Tuesday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m. at The Handlebar, located at 680 South Mill Avenue in Tempe. (For information on nearby parking, visit http://www.millavenue.com/parking1). Hors d’oeuvres will be provided by The Handlebar and no-host drinks will also be available. Space is limited and registration is required by contacting Courtney McIntyre at the Tempe Chamber of Commerce at CourtneyMcIntyre@tempechamber.org or by calling (480) 967-7891.


The Tempe Leadership program runs for nine months, from September to May, and exposes class members to a wide variety of business, cultural, social and civic experiences that enrich their knowledge of Tempe, grow their social network and build their leadership capacity.  “Tempe Leadership had a huge impact on my life,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “It gave me the skill and the confidence that I needed to get more involved in my community and run for office.  One of the reasons of where I am today is because I was involved in Tempe Leadership and Class 15.”


Approximately 20 class members are chosen through a competitive process. Applicants must live or work in Tempe and must be a registered voter. Class members are expected to participate fully in the program, which generally requires two days per month, and any additional time needed to complete the class project.  Applications for Class XXX must be submitted by April 25, 2014.


Since 1985, more than 700 diverse, dedicated individuals have participated in the Tempe Leadership program.  Our focus is to bring together like-minded individuals in the community to engage and challenge one another, learn more about the ins and outs of Tempe and, most importantly, make a real difference in our community. For more information about the application process, visit www.tempeleadership.org.

About Tempe Leadership

Tempe Leadership, a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a program of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce.  For nearly three decades, Tempe Leadership has played a key role in bringing active, engaged community members together to effect positive and lasting change in the Tempe community.

c/o Tempe Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 28500, Tempe, AZ 85285 www.tempeleadership.org

Tempe Cares 2014

This year’s Tempe Cares event will take place Saturday, March 1, 2014 starting at 8:00 a.m. We will be cleaning up sections of the 13-acre LoPiano Mesquite Bosque.

LoPiano Mesquite Bosque is located on the north side of the Loop 202 between College and Mille Avenues, just south of the Indian Bed Pump Ditch and Papago Park. Constructed in 1993 by volunteers from 26 schools, the Bosque offers trails for pedestrians, mountain bike enthusiasts and horseback riders in a mostly-untouched natural habitat.

Tempe Cares will be on site Saturday, March 1 to help thin non-native vegetative additions and to clean paths for pedestrians and other users. Volunteers of all age, both skilled and unskilled labor, are invited to come together to help transform the appearance of this neglected community space.

Organized by the Tempe Cares committee of Tempe Leadership, March 1 will bring together resources and volunteers to improve the quality of life for everyone in Tempe. Several hundred individuals, groups and businesses commit to volunteers, donations and in-kind resources to help make Tempe Cares day happen. If you are interested in participating or making a donation, please email tempecares@gmail.com with your information.

The day includes breakfast and snacks for all volunteers and typically runs from 8 a.m. to approximately 11 a.m. This one day event is a great way to get involved and make a difference in our community.

For more information about this year’s Tempe Cares project, visit us online at www.tempeleadership.org/tempecares or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tempeleadership

– See more at: http://tempeleadership.org/meetings-classes-events/#sthash.yeXLCw4h.dpuf

Shalimar Grandmas & Grandpas Golf Scramble

February 24, 2014  9:00am Golf Scramble

$35 per person

Includes Golf, Cart, Buffet Lunch, Entertainment

& Awards!


“There is no brighter light in the world than that of a Child’s mind…

little geniuses in the making!”


Please come out and have fun sharing memories and stories of your grandchildren.

Don’t forget to bring pictures of your grandchildren as we will be posting them

For all to see! (Pictures will be returned.)

Sign up for this fun-filled event today!


Please call (480) 838-0488 or Visit the Golf Shop.

College Avenue closed between University Drive and Fifth Street

College Avenue will be closed in both directions between University Drive and Fifth Street Feb. 17 to June 17 to allow for reconstruction of the road related to an ASU project.  Local access will be maintained between University Drive and Seventh Street AND between Fifth Street and Sixth Street. Bus routes will be detoured as follows.

62 Southbound: Regular route west on University Dr. to McAllister Ave.; northwest on Veterans Way to resume regular route at Tempe Transportation Center.

62 Northbound: Regular route to Tempe Transportation Center; southeast on 5th St./Veterans Way to University Dr.; east on University Dr. to resume regular route.

72 Northbound: Regular route west on University Dr. to McAllister Ave.; northwest on Veterans Way to resume regular route at Tempe Transportation Center.

72 Southbound: Regular route west on University Dr. to McAllister Ave.; northwest on Veterans Way to resume regular route at Tempe Transportation Center.

511 Northbound: Regular route west on University Dr. to McAllister Ave.; northwest on Veterans Way to resume regular route at Tempe Transportation Center.

511 Southbound: Regular route to Tempe Transportation Center; southeast on 5th St./Veterans Way to University Dr.; east on University Dr. to resume regular route.

Orbit Mars Northbound – Regular route north on McAllister Ave. to University Dr.; northwest on Veterans Way to resume regular route at Tempe Transportation Center.

Orbit Mars Southbound – Regular route to Tempe Transportation Center; southeast on 5th St./Veterans Way to University Dr.; continue south on McAllister Ave. to resume regular route.

Orbit Mercury Westbound – Regular route north on McAllister Ave. to University Dr.; northwest on Veterans Way to resume regular route at Tempe Transportation Center.

Orbit Venus Back – Regular route north on Mill Ave. to University Dr.; continue north on Mill Ave. to 5th St.; east on 5th St. to Tempe Transportation Center to resume regular route.

Orbit Venus Forward – Regular route to Tempe Transportation Center; west on 5th St. to Mill Ave.; south on Mill Ave. to resume regular route at University Dr.


Visit the link below to read this on the City of Tempe website.

College Ave Streetscape Public Access Flier[4]

Tempe Leadership Class XXX Fundraiser this Sunday to support the United Food Bank

Wanted to touch base with you about our upcoming event on February 16th from 2-5:30pm at HandleBar Tempe on Mill Avenue. I am emailing you for your support on our class project, specifically this event. If you do not know the details of our project, we have partnered with United Food Bank to raise funds for a mobile refrigerated unit to provide fresh produce to Arizona’s families. The problem is that providers, such as Tempe Community Action Agency and the Boys and Girls Club, don’t have the means to transport of store fresh produce. This truck is for providers to “check out” from UFB, take back to their facility full of fresh produce, and distribute to those in need. It’s a solution in the food bank industry to distribute fresh, nutritious foods.


This project is projected to be the highest dollar amount fundraised in Tempe Leadership history. It’s projected to generate over $30k and we’re only one sponsor away from making this happen. Take a look at the attachment for a financial overview of the project.


The Fresh Truck Project Event is this Sunday, February 16th from 2-5:30pm at HandleBar on Mill Avenue. Tickets are $40. With that we have a great menu and raffle/silent auction items. If you have the time, please support Tempe Leadership Class XXIX and the Fresh Truck Project! For more details visit http://business.tempechamber.org/events/details/fresh-truck-project-fundraising-event-3717.

Thank you for your support. I hope to see you Sunday.