Jamsheed Mehta

Marana Town Manager Jamsheed Mehta

Speaking to the Marana Town Council last Tuesday, June 19, town manager Jamsheed Mehta said the town has taken great strides this year, highlighting some of those accomplishments during council’s last meeting before summer break. 

Marana saw a financial and communal benefit in taking over animal services last year. Topgolf became a new Marana destination. The Council approved two zoning changes in line with the downtown vision. The town completed important road improvements, including realigning Marana Road and a landscape element to the new roundabout is soon to be introduced. Marana tripled the capacity of its water reclamation facility this year. And the town predicts at least 800 new home permits by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Revenue and operating expenditures at the Marana Regional Airport was narrowed due to updated leases, which now sit at current market rates. Investment at the airport continues with a number of improvements set for 2019. Thanks to a grant from the Federal Aviation Authority, Marana will be able to spend $5.2 million on the rehabilitation of 1 million square feet of pavement on multiple aprons and a portion of taxiway that are in poor condition and can’t adequately support the weight of some of the private jets using the airport.

The FAA grant will cover $4.5 million towards the project. The state will cover about $221,000, and the town will pay about $477,000—of which the airport lessee Pima Aviation, Inc. may reimburse about $133,000.

In the wake of good news, the Town Council unanimously approved its $141.67 million 2019 fiscal budget. Next year’s spending plan is $58.72 million smaller than the 2018 fiscal year, which ends this Saturday, June 30.

Next fiscal year’s budget has shrunk due to a number of capital and enterprise projects that are near completion. Marana’s portion of Tangerine Road is mostly finished, with only minor additions such as landscaping left to complete. The new public safety facility will be finished in August, with the Marana Police Department moving in by early-September. And work on the wastewater facility will wrap up in August.

The Capital Projects Fund for 2019 is $39.1 million, a $40.9 million decrease from the current year. The Enterprise Fund also experienced some contraction; it’s is set at $25.5 million for 2019, which is $21.6 million less than 2018.

Marana’s 2019 General

Fund expenditures are $49.8 million, $3.4 million higher than 2018. The largest expenditures the General Fund covers are MPD at $13.9 million, Public Works at $5.2 million (covering all work performed by Public Works except pavement preservation, which is covered by Highway User Revenue Funds), the Contingency Fund for unforeseen immediate expenses at $5 million, and Parks and Recreation at an estimated $4.8 million for next fiscal year.

The majority of revenue for the General Fund, estimated to total nearly $45 million, is from sales tax ($26.3 million), intergovernmental revenues from the state and other revenue sharing ($11.7 million), and licensing and permitting fees ($4.8 million).

The town forecasts they’ll finish 2019 with a $22.9 million reserve. Marana has a policy of setting aside at least 25 percent of the General Fund revenues in reserves, which would amount to about $11.2 million, but they anticipate they’ll be able to set aside over twice that amount.

Going forward, Mehta said town staff intend to focus on greater council involvement in creating the budget from earlier on, soliciting feedback on what the constituents are telling councilmembers. And the town will soon be taking a deeper look into infrastructure needs.

“Exciting times—we did a pretty decent job this year, with several improvements,” Mehta said. “We continue to be the ideal place for residential development in the region...I think the next step will be to explore what will be in the next 20-year cycle.”

Mehta said the town is going to do a study to review its park system and see if improvements in the Ora Mae Harn District Park, such as building a recreation center, are justified. The town will also continue planning the El Rio Preserve Project in the Continental Ranch area. The new Tangerine Sky Community Park, Crossroads splash pad and Honea Heights Pocket Park are all scheduled to open between mid-August to early-September. 

The town is also starting a North Marana drainage study, looking at how to redirect waters in the 100-year floodplain without impacting properties in the area. After New Year, the town will start updating the general plan and complete the land code project. Next, Marana will look at the plan for its future expansion of the regional sewer conveyance system for the next 20 to 40 years. 

“I think we’ve had a great ride, and we are well positioned to begin the new year,” Mehta said.

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