Taxpayers covering $377.5K in council pet projects - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Taxpayers covering $377.5K in council pet projects

June 20th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Taxpayers covering $377.5K in council pet projects

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Each year Chandler City Council members get a contingency fund to spend money on projects they deem important for the community.

This year councilmembers awarded $10,000 to explore blockchain record keeping, $17,000 for two award recognition ceremonies that were started this year – and an additional $10,000 for the Endzone Experience, the city’s non-sanctioned Super Bowl party.

The projects in all total $377,500 of the city’s $1.35 billion budget Council approved last week. Council also approved a capital improvement budget of $1.66 billion.

Vice Mayor Terry Roe voted against the package of budget amendments.

“Historically, we’ve talked about these items individually and that can take a long time,” Roe said. “This year we probably could have done that, forced a vote in a study session, but we didn’t.”

Council changed how it voted on the amendments because of the pandemic. In 2020, there were no amendments. Since then, members have been voting on them as a group instead of individually.

Roe said he voted against the amendments because he objected to spending $74,000 – the highest amount among the individual items – for a portable, solar-powered electric vehicle charging station for city-owned vehicles.

Here’s a look at some of the items the Council awarded funds to:

Endzone Experience: First, don’t call it a Super Bowl party. This is not in any way an official NFL event and the city doesn’t want to fight with copyright attorneys. It just happens that it will be staged about the time the Super Bowl will take place in Glendale on Feb. 12.
Kim Moyers, the cultural development director for the city, says the Endzone Experience will be an event for the community. First, it will allow some Chandler youth to showcase their skills for college recruiters.

“It’s basically working with a lot of the high school students on how if they’re interested in playing at the collegiate level, [or] if you’re so fortunate to play at the collegiate level, what it would take to get to the professional level,” she said.

“They are going to do some, like some scrimmaging and that type of thing so that people have an opportunity to see some of the amazing athletes that Chandler has.”

Council had already approved $25,000 for that part of the Endzone Experience. Councilmember OD Harris asked for an additional $10,000 from the contingency fund to improve it.

Moyers said they plan to stage a number of events on Super Bowl weekend where people in the community can participate. Since that money has just been approved, they have not planned out exactly what those activities will be just yet.

Chandler has some of the top high school football teams in the nation and most college recruiters already know about those programs. Moyers said the Endzone Experience would help players other than the top stars get some notice. And, she said they hope to expand it to more than just football.
Blockchain record keeping: Councilmember Mark Stewart is a big proponent of blockchain technology. Last year he helped start a pilot program to test blockchain voting in city elections. Last week, he pushed for $10,000 so the City Clerk’s office could study using blockchain technology for record retention and document authentication.

Award celebrations: Last year Councilmembers Harris and Christine Ellis both staged special events to honor members of the community and used some of their personal $7,500 expense fund to pay for it.

Next year they want to host the events again, and this time have the money come from the contingency fund. Ellis is planning a First Ladies of Chandler event to pay tribute to women leaders in the community. Harris plans to hold another Martin Luther King Jr. event.

Both members requested $10,000 and $7,000 respectively for the celebrations.

Roe only requested money for one item among the 28 amendments. He joined with the rest of the Council in asking for $1,000 to supplement a Christmas holiday party for seniors living in public housing.

Rene Lopez had the next fewest requests at five, followed by Stewart at seven. Mayor Kevin Hartke made 10 requests, followed by Matt Orlando at 11, Ellis at 15. Harris made the most requests at 16.
The amounts awarded range from $1,000 to $74,000. The most common amount was $10,000, which was handed out 10 times.
Some of the projects being funded support the police and fire departments. They voted to give the Police Department $10,000 for human trafficking equipment and $20,000 for human trafficking training. They gave the Fire Department $30,000 to convert a vehicle into a mobile incident cooling station.
Some of the 28 amendments specifically address diversity in the city, including $10,000 for Chandler Contigo, $10,000 for diversity education for K-12 students, $5,000 for a Juneteenth celebration and $1,000 for a roundtable that focuses on businesses owned by women, African Americans and Latinos.

There’s also $10,000 to recognize the area’s veterans and $10,000 for two new programs for Jazz appreciation month. They also approved $10,000 for two new benches for Downtown and $15,000 for some signage at the Chandler Museum.

Council also agreed to spend $28,000 for a study to determine residents’ interest in remodeling Folley Park.