Chandler sending 5 bond issues to voters in November totaling $272M

Money from a bond issue that will go to voters in November would pay for completion of Mesquite Groves Park in southern Chandler and to upgrade several other parks across the city. –Chandler photo

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Chandler City Council has voted unanimously to send five bond issues totaling more than $272 million to voters for authorization on Nov. 2 to cover numerous improvements in infrastructure and several other projects in its 10-year Capital Improvement Plan.

Neighboring Gilbert also is expected to ask voters for bond funding in November. Last year, Tempe voters approved a package of bond requests similar to Chandler’s.

While Chandler still has funds available from its last bond issue in 2007, it must borrow more money to cover all of the approved projects. The general obligation bonds would bear a maximum interest rate of 8 percent and could run a maximum of 25 years.

Authorizing the city to borrow money with the new bonds would not cause an increase in property-tax rates, according to city officials.

“I’m confident we can bring this to the voters and come out on the other side successfully,” Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke said.

The five issues include:

  • $85.8 million for streets.
  • $73 million for parks.
  • $55.2 million for the Police Department.
  • $33.6 million for public facilities.
  • $25.2 million for the Fire Department.

Without the additional bond authorization, “our ability to add new capital or maintain existing capital would be extremely limited,” said Dawn Lang, Chandler management services director.

The November bond election will be conducted entirely by mail.

Chandler Fire Stations 282 and 284 need to be renovated, city officials say.

Among the largest proposed expenditures is $38 million for a crime lab for the Chandler Police Department, which Police Chief Sean Duggan told the Council in April is essential. Chandler uses the Arizona Department of Public Safety crime lab. Duggan says that due to the volume of evidence analyzed there from multiple municipalities it is not uncommon for delays in results for complex, serious crimes.

The Council heard Duggan’s pitch and responded. This month, it adopted a 2021-22 fiscal-year budget with an increase in funding for the Police Department that includes hiring 27 officers, 12 new positions and 15 “overfill” positions, which allow a police candidate to be hired and complete training while a current officer continues to serve the community.

The city wants to remodel or built several parks, from neighborhood to regional in scope. Among them is $40 million to complete Mesquite Groves Park, $16 million to renovate Folley Park and pool, and $12 million to renovate A.J. Chandler Park.

The city needs $15 million to rebuild Fire Stations 282 and 284, and $4.5 million for new fire vehicles.

Chandler’s rapidly rising population – now estimated at 260,000 – has brought with it a need for more streets and widening and improving existing thoroughfares. About $12 million to improve Kyrene Road from Chandler Boulevard south to Loop 202,  $11 million to rebuild the intersection of Ray and Dobson roads, which is an area of rapidly growing traffic, and $2 million to improve Price Road, is needed.

Chandler Center for the Arts.

Renovations and improvements to Chandler Center for the Arts and Chandler City Court are among the aging public facilities that would get a face lift from $33.6 million.

According to the city’s calculations, a bond package of $272 million would not result in an increase in property-tax rates.

The Citizen’s Bond Exploratory Committee met multiple times with the mayor and Council to discuss the need for bond authorization and to present the final recommendation.

The estimated average tax rate for the proposed bond authorization is $0.52 per $100 of net assessed value used for secondary-tax purposes.

Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell became a journalist because he didn’t become a rocket scientist! He exhausted the math courses available by his junior year in high school and earned early admission to Rice University, intending to take advantage of its relationship with the Johnson Space Center and become an aerospace engineer. But as a high school senior, needing a class to be eligible for sports with no more math available, he took student newspaper as a credit and was hooked. He studied journalism at the UofA and has been senior reporter, copy desk chief and managing editor at several Valley publications.

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