City’s Long Term Vision Lacks Clarity – by Gary Gibbs

By Gary Gibbs

Right up front, let me say that I did not attend the Goodyear City Council retreat Saturday, June 11. It was held to establish a five year vision for the city.  There is no video of the powwow because it was held outside the normal cocoon of city council chambers. That leaves me with a write-up in the June 17 West Valley View as one source for what transpired. The other source, which became available only Monday June 20, are meeting minutes posted to the city’s web site. (included here;  Retreat minutes )

The day’s output boiled down to three main visionary priorities: (1) creating a sense of place, (2) economic development, and (3) maintaining a strong quality of life for residents. I don’t pretend to understand the first priority (more on that later.) Economic development is a no brainer. As for the third priority, I would substitute delivering a strong quality of life as opposed to merely maintaining one. Police and fire are the cornerstones and I, for one, don’t want the status quo maintained. Our police officers deserve capable leadership, which has been sorely lacking of late, according to an independent review of police actions. The hiring of a police chief is of critical import and one of the biggest decisions facing the city. There’s no hint that this subject came up at the retreat. And we would all be better served if our firefighters focused on the myriad tasks at hand and kept their hands off of city politics. I didn’t have to attend or watch a video to know that subject wasn’t broached. Our seven member council (six elected officials and one political appointee) owe their seats at the table to our unionized employees.

Another key quality of life component is the tax burden a city places on its residents. If you own a home and do most of your shopping here, Goodyear is one of the most expensive places in the Valley to live. Yet nowhere in the lengthy View article does the word “tax” appear, let alone the phrase “tax relief.” One can only assume that’s not part of the council’s vision. Neither is rolling the general sales tax back to 2009 levels. When that tax went up we were led to believe that after three years it would be rolled back. You do not have to be Nostradamus to know that will never happen under the auspices of the present council.

Back to “creating a sense of place.” That’s code for City Center, a 25-year-old pipe dream into which we have sunk $4 million for some drawings which include posh new city offices and a 30,000 square foot library at a projected cost of $40 million. “Sense of place” is also code for “watch your wallet.” From quotes in the newspaper article, it appears there is a real drive by the new council to make City Center a reality. And why not? They need a legacy and we need another costly boondoggle and vanity play to go along with the ballpark and Mobile annexation. Three’s company.

It’s easy to criticize, so let’s offer something constructive – three priorities that should comprise the city’s five year vision:

1.  Create a legacy of financial responsibility, giving Goodyear a reputation as a great place to live because of its low tax rates and sound balance sheet.

2.  Pursue economic development with unrivaled doggedness and sense of purpose. Increasing the tax base is the key to delivering on item number one.

3.  Instead of a Taj Mahal for city government, turn City Center plans into an arts and culture center, finding corporate partnership and funding (think Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company) for a true destination that will create “a sense of place.”

Editor’s note;  Later this week, what is REALLY in Goodyear’s budget or, “they’re not exactly lying to you”.


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