Eduprize, which according to Supervisor Martyn, "has cost the county millions of dollars"
The presentation continued with some complaints about how working with non-profit groups is costing the county millions. One case in point, Eduprize, which according to Supervisor Martyn, "has cost the county millions of dollars" in order for traffic to and from the school - 6 times per day - to be controlled.
Current and future growth was then touched on which included information discussing the future development of Home Depot at Hunt Hwy & Gary out to the Florence hospital on Adamsville. Here are the details:
- Home Depot corporate has stopped ALL development, across the country, until 2012-2013. They are however still responsible for the maintenance of the property. If the area becomes a "safety issue", then the county will step in.
- Rural Metro is looking to expand its locations. They are considering 1 of 2 spots - either in San Tan Heights or up against the mountain.
- The Florence hospital, near Anthem, is "going vertical". The foundation is down and they are starting to build up. Supervisor Martyn mentioned that Florence hospital is having financial difficulties so he isn't sure when the hospital will open, but at least they are going vertical.
- A new Walgreens at Ocotillo and Combs is now open
- A new feedstore opened last week, again at Ocotillo and Combs
- Banner Hospital will be opening its doors on November 1st.
Supervisor Martyn then discussed the county's budget. Last year the county had a $400 million budget, this year the county has a $429 million budget. In this economy how does a county's budget go up $29 million? The county cuts jobs and reduces pay. The county laid off 160 people last year and there haven't been any pay raises in the last 3 years. What is Supervisor Martyn hoping to do to help the county budget in 2011? Cut more jobs and reduce pay. According to Supervisor Martyn, "this will help the county" during these tough times.
Once all of this was said and done, the Supervisor decided to bring up "the library". As many of you know, the library has been quite a sensitive subject for quite some time. We were "taught" that all Pinal County residents pay a library tax. This tax provides extra funding by the county for the libraries in Apache Junction, Florence, Casa Grande, Kearny, San Manuel and Maricopa. Yes, we can go to any of these libraries at no charge. Supervisor Smith had determined that our area needed and deserved a library. She earmarked $1.9 million dollars, out of an over $4 million project to build the library, in conjunction with the new Sheriff's station and future county buildings, along Hunt Hwy and Arizona Farms. Supervisor Martyn came into office a few months later, and cut the funding, due to budget challenges, and the library was taken off the table.
So how do we get a library?
There is currently a group called Friends of the San Tan Valley Library that is working with the county to try and get a library built in San Tan Valley. Thank you Friends of the Library! Supervisor Martyn then laid out 3 different possibilities for us.
1) At the cost of $500,000, we could get a book mobile, that would drive throughout the area, allowing us access to their books. If they didn't have a book that we wanted, we could ask them to get it and when they came back down to our area, we could get the book. It would then run about $125,000 - $150,000 per year to maintain it.
2) The county has set aside $250,000 for our area to get a library (vs the $1.9 million we had in 2009). Supervisor Martyn explained what that amount would get us. A $250,000 library would service about 5,000 homes. This is based on the $50 per household that Maricopa County asks us to pay when we visit the Queen Creek library. Martyn stated that with over 23,000 homes in our area, that size library is not adequate.
3) The third possibility was to have a 3rd party pay for the library. This became an odd presentation at this point. Supervisor Martyn stated "one of our utility companies" has offered to completely fund a library, however "I've spoken to some folks and they don't want anything in this area built by that person/company". He then asked the group in attendance, how they would feel about a library, completely funded by a third party, would sit with us. George Johnson, who was in attendance, then stood up and explained to the group, that they have a fully stocked library, with computer stations, books, and more, ready to open its doors tomorrow, if allowed by the county. The library is the same size of the library Queen Creek residences used for 15 years, before they raised enough money to to build their new library. Johnson continued and shared that he wants to put 3 of these buildings around San Tan Valley so that all of the residents could access a library as soon as possible. The libraries would be run through a Johnson Foundation and managed by a Board that would have members that are appointed/voted in by our community. Johnson would not be a member of the Board nor would he be involved in the appointment/voting of the members. The library would be manned by retired librarians who understand the library system and how to run a library.
There was then quite a bit of commotion from those in attendance. One gentleman said "Those that don't like that George Johnson would give us multiple libraries to use, at no cost to us, will either get over it or not go to it. Why should our kids suffer, because a few people don't like George Johnson?" George Johnson then asked Supervisor Martyn if more than 20 people have told Martyn that they don't want Johnson to build a library. Martyn then replied "No". Johnson than asked all in attendance if anyone would would want him to do this. With an almost unanimous showing of hands, those in attendance, don't have a problem with it.
Bottom line, this community wants a library and if one can be opened tomorrow, OPEN IT!
Martyn told Johnson that they would get together and "talk about it".