Organizers aiming to incorporate rural areas into the City of New River-Desert Hills filed a Petition for Incorporation this month with the Maricopa County Elections Department. Having worked on the idea since September 2017 [See "Talk of the Town,” In&Out, Sept. 13, 2018], they hope to put the question on the November ballot.
Incorporation aims to solve multiple perceived problems, including “unchecked growth, limited infrastructure and planning needed to facilitate the rapid growth of the area, and unsustainable depletion of the water table,” organizers said in an April 4 letter to Phoenix. “Incorporation would give this area immediate local representation and access to funding.”
The most recent proposed map includes all of New River and Desert Hills, excludes all of Anthem, and excludes Tramonto, which is part of Phoenix.
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The effort, by the New River-Desert Hills Incorporation Committee, must receive formal approval from the City of Phoenix and other nearby incorporated cities.
Phoenix City Councilwoman Thelda Williams, who represents District 1 in northwest Phoenix, expressed concerns to the group in October.
“I was not supportive of the proposed boundaries, not supportive of a budget based firmly on state-shared revenue and was concerned about community support,” Williams told In&Out last week. “The petition appears to reflect the same presentation, with little or no change. I am not supportive of the committee’s petition to incorporate.”
Meanwhile, the New River/Desert Hills Community Association, a separate group that aims to inform residents and coordinate with local, state and federal agencies, but has no governing power, opposes the effort.
“While we support the process of residents determining their own form of government and fully support that process through a ballot initiative, we have a number of concerns,” NR/DHCA Board President Ed Taylor said in a statement. The statement added:
“Incorporation will create an additional layer of government that will only increase costs to area residents and slow responsiveness to residents’ concerns. The additional layer of government will inevitably result in more taxes and fees… Due to the lack of existing store-front businesses, the proposed new city government will have little choice but to tax the home-based businesses that make up a large part of the area’s economy.”
“Big government is not responsive to the needs of the minority and New River and Desert Hills is by far the minority,” said Laurie Ricci, one of the founders of the incorporation committee and chairperson of the organization Vote New River-Desert Hills Political Action Committee, which filed the Petition for Incorporation with the county.
“It is our goal to give the people of New River and Desert Hills a voice and a say in the future of their land,” Ricci told In&Out, adding that the NR/DHCA does not have the “best interest of the community at large” in mind.
Regarding funding, she said “municipalities are funded from many sources other than traditional sales taxes,” including state shared revenue, federal grants, state grants, impact fees, and franchise utility taxes.
If it clears other hurdles, the pro-incorporation group must get 10 percent of registered voters within the boundaries to sign the petition. If it makes the ballot, the question must get “yes” votes from a majority of those who vote on the issue (it doesn’t matter how many voters live within the boundaries, only how many vote).
Bill Gates, Maricopa County District 3 supervisor and board chairman, said he’s neutral on the issue. “The decision of whether to incorporate is one that the community will need to decide itself,” Gates told In&Out.
See previous articles on the incorporation effort, including a budget plan for the proposed town at www.NoPhoNews.com/tag/nrdhinc.