Category Archives: D6 News

Fitch upgrades Surprise revenue bond and long-term default ratings to ‘AA+’

City Manager Bob Wingenroth announced Tuesday night that Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” nationally recognized credit rating agencies, has upgraded the city’s Excise Tax and State-Shared Revenue Obligation (ETRO) bond rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.

Fitch stated the “rating reflects a solid coverage cushion and expectations for strong pledged revenue growth.”

Fitch also upgraded the city’s Long-Term Issuer Default rating (IDR) to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.

In reviewing the city’s economic base Fitch noted, “The city’s 2015 population of 128,422 has realized a rapid 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past 15 years and its median household income exceeds that of the U.S. by 16%.”

In commenting on the city’s operating performance Fitch reported, “Fitch expects Surprise to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic downturns based on its ample revenue raising capacity and solid financial flexibility, supplemented by its ample reserves.”

“We are very pleased with this news,” says Finance Director Lindsey Duncan. “In following the financial policy direction as set by City Council, we have been able to do an amazing job of managing city revenues in a responsible manner and these favorable ratings verify that.” A city’s credit rating is important due to its impact on interest rates in the bond market. A better rating means the city can sell bonds to finance capital projects and pay a lower interest rate to the buyer.

The agency also issued a rating outlook of Stable.

View Fitch’s news release.

City breaks ground on new water industry training facility

The city of Surprise, in partnership with GateWay Community College, broke ground today on the future site of the Surprise-GateWay Training Center, a facility that will provide new, mission critical labs, assembly facilities and classrooms for city water professionals and individuals interested in water resource management careers.

The 13,100 square foot training center is being constructed on the grounds of the South Plant (SPA1) Water Reclamation Facility, located near the intersection of Cactus and Litchfield roads. SPA1 currently processes over 8 million gallons of water per day.

When completed, GateWay Community College enrollees in the West Valley will have an opportunity to train adjacent to professional staff and experience the complete water reclamation and treatment process for both groundwater and drinking water.

Mayor Sharon Wolcott is pleased with the opportunities the new facility will bring to individuals interested in water resource careers.

“This is an industry losing many to retirement and this training facility will help usher in the next generation of highly skilled water and wastewater professionals who understand the lifecycle of water in Arizona,” said Wolcott.

Construction on the Surprise-GateWay Training Center is anticipated to be completed this summer and training opportunities opening as early as this fall.

For information about the training center, call 623.222.6000.

Residents feel safe & love living in Surprise; seek more local jobs & transportation solutions

The 2015 National Citizen Survey (NCS) results are in and nearly 90% of residents rate Surprise as a great place to live and would recommend living here.

The NCS serves as the city’s service report card, and the collected data assists in setting future city priorities.

The survey captures residents’ opinions within three community pillars: Community Characteristics, Governance & Participation. These are broken down into eight categories: Safety, Mobility/Transportation, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Economy, Recreation & Wellness, Education & Enrichment and Community Engagement. Across these eight categories the city’s results were similar to over 200 peer cities across the United States.

According to the survey, the areas that are most important to Surprise residents are safety, mobility/transportation and the economy.

The city rated above the national benchmark in the following categories:
(% selected excellent/good)

88% overall appearance of the city (cleanliness)
86% recommend Surprise as a place to retire
84% Street lighting
83% Street cleaning
82% Sidewalk maintenance
81% Overall built environment
76% Affordable quality housing
74% Public parking
69% Cost of living

Survey results also indicate a need for more public transportation options and local job creation- two areas that rated below the national benchmark.

Residents were asked how likely they would be to support a separate funding source to pay for new Police and Fire-Medical personnel, which would reallocate General Fund dollars towards other projects. Sixty-six percent of residents strongly/somewhat support this proposal.

Nearly three-quarters of the surveyed residents are confident in local government, and 89% are pleased with the quality of city services.

Since the 2012 NCS, residents noted significant improvements in traffic flow, crime and fire prevention, shopping opportunities/economic development, drinking water and overall national environment. Ratings fell in the number of residents who volunteered, visited a park or watched a local public meeting.

The 2015 NCS was conducted by Boulder, Colorado-based National Research Center from October-November 2015. The survey was sent to 1,400 randomly-selected Surprise households. The overall response rate was 26%, which is average for this type of survey. The margin of error is +/- 5%. Results are weighted as to not have one particular demographic (age, sex, race, etc…) skew results.

The City of Surprise would like to thank those residents who participated in the survey. The city’s next NCS is on target for 2017.

To see the complete results visit www.surpriseaz.gov/ncs.

Transportation improvement projects slated across Surprise in 2016

To meet the needs of a growing Surprise, the city is working on several significant transportation improvement projects. The projects range from constructing additional lanes, to paving new areas, to enhancing safety through new medians.

The city has created a 2016 Transportation Projects Map for easy reference. The map shows the areas where the work is happening and their expected timelines.

2016 Surprise Transportation Project Map

The following projects are currently underway:

Original Town Site (OTS) Infrastructure Improvement:,This project will replace old asphalt with pulverized asphalt in the OTS. The project began in December 2015 and is scheduled to conclude February 2016.

Cactus Road (north half) from 140th Avenue to Bullard Avenue:This project includes half street improvements with a median. DMB is the project owner, with the City contributing to median costs. The project is underway and is expected to conclude in spring 2016.

Waddell Road Median (Litchfield Road to 1200 feet west): Work to add a landscaped median west of Litchfield Road began in January 2016 and is expected to run through February 2016.

Peoria Avenue (Reems Road to Sarival Avenue): Project will provide two travel lanes in the westbound direction. Lennar has started construction, which is expected to be completed in February 2016.

Greenway Road (Bullard Avenue to Litchfield Road): Project will add an additional lane in each direction. This project began in January 2016. Work is scheduled to be completed in June 2016, weather permitting.

The following are upcoming projects:

Cactus Road (south side) from Litchfield Road to Rail Road Tracks & Litchfield Road (east side) from Cactus Road to Desert Cove Road: The project will provide two travel lanes in one direction along Cactus (eastbound) and Litchfield (northbound). Construction is expected to begin in February 2016.

Landscaping Median (various locations): The project focuses on completing medians in the following locations:

Reems Road—Peoria to Cactus (1 mile) Bullard Avenue—Peoria to Cholla (1/2 mile)
Waddell Road—175th to Citrus (1/2 mile) Sarival Road—Bell to Northwest Ranch Parkway (900 feet)

Construction is expected to begin in March/April 2016 with the individual sections prioritized as listed above.

Peoria Avenue (south side) from Greer Ranch Parkway to Reems Road: The project will provide two travel lanes in the eastbound direction. Construction will begin in April 2016.

Additionally, the Arizona Department of Transportation is managing several major improvement projects in and around the city. Loop 303 interchange connections at both U.S. 60 (Grand Ave.) and El Mirage Road are expected to be completed this summer. Early work on the Bell Road bridge, which will carry traffic over Grand Avenue and the adjacent railway tracks, has begun. The project is scheduled to be completed over the next 14 months (in spring 2017). The full closure of Bell Road between 134th Avenue and West Point Parkway is scheduled to start April 1 and will be in place for 6 – 8 months. For more information on this project, please visit www.azdot.gov/bellandgrand or call ADOT’s project hotline at 1.855.712.8530.

All project timelines are weather permitting. Please note, this list does not include regular (short duration) pavement preservation and maintenance or sidewalk maintenance projects

You can find this list of improvement projects and other important city transportation information online at www.surpriseaz.gov/transportation.