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January 25, 2017 Regional Council Activity Report

Phoenix (January 25, 2017)

Executive Director’s Report

At the January meeting, we remembered the service of two long-standing public employees who recently passed away. First, we recongnized the service of  Litchfield Park City Manager Darryl Crossman.  Darryl served as a member of the MAG Management Committee from 2005-2016, making him the longest-serving member of the committee. We also paid tribute to Steve Olson, who served as the Director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association from 2005-2012 and as Government Relations Director for the City of Scottsdale from 1999-2004. These individuals reminded us of the personal commitment that is essential in making this region a better place for future generations.

I was reminded of the great service to this region in preparing for the MAG 50th Anniversary celebration.  It became evident that MAG has been successful due to the outstanding elected official leadership throughout the years. These leaders have supported the great professional staff at MAG.  We are fortunate for this continuing support.

One example of outstanding staff work was mentioned in my Executive Director’s report. MAG was asked to present, organize, or preside over 18 events at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January. We believe this represented more than any other agency in the country. The conference attracted more than 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world. This confirms that MAG is at the forefront of transportation-related research.

The talent that we attract at MAG in many cases comes from agencies that are also members of the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS).  This career ladder is extremely important. During the legislative update, we heard that a bill had been introduced that would prevent MAG and other “political subdivision entities” from enrolling new employees in the ASRS. One of the agencies that is a member of ASRS is the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). I noted at the meeting  that two current MAG employees who came to us from ADOT were responsible for working with ADOT to identify $150 million in available  funding as a result of the cost risk assessment process, which refined cost estimates and schedules. Having this career ladder between ADOT and MAG helps both agencies and the region.  MAG will continue to monitor this bill if it continues to move forward.
For more information, please contact Dennis Smith, MAG Executive Director, (602) 254-6300.

Meeting Report for Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Action Items

MAG Regional Plan to End Domestic Violence
Apache Junction Councilmember Robin Barker, who chairs the MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council, provided an update on the MAG Regional Plan to End Domestic Violence. The MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council leads the coordinated community response for ending domestic violence. Established in 1999, the Council strives to reduce the incidence of and trauma associated with domestic violence. The Regional Plan was updated for 2017 with a five-year scope and contains 15 strategies to end domestic violence. These strategies are built on four areas of focus: funding; training and education; coordination and collaboration; and services. The outcome of the plan will be identifying sustainable funding, raising awareness, enhancing multi-disciplinary coordination, and strengthening long-term supports. The Regional Council voted to approve the plan.
For more information, please contact Amy Rebenar, MAG Human Services Planner, (602) 254-6300.

MAG Audit 
The Regional Council voted to accept an audit opinion issued on the MAG Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)and Single Audit Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. The accounting firm of CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, completed the audit of the two reports and presented their findings to the MAG Regional Council. An unqualified audit opinion was issued in December on the financial statements of governmental activities as well as a number of aggregate and component units. The independent auditors’ report on compliance with the requirements for major federal award programs expressed an unqualified opinion on the Single Audit. The opinion found there were no reportable conditions or material weaknesses. There also were no instances of noncompliance and no questioned costs, and there were no new findings. The CAFR and companion documents were prepared in accordance with the Government Finance Officers Association standards for the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Kimbrough, MAG Fiscal Services Manager, (602) 254-6300.

Short Term Transit Accessibility Program 
Through the public involvement process, MAG is proactive in responding to the needs of the community. In response to public input, the MAG Regional Council approved the use of $2.5 million of transit funding to improve accessibility at transit stops in the MAG region. Valley Metro is conducting the Transit Stop Inventory and Accessibility Study to evaluate compliance with ADA (American with Disabilities Act) standards and accessibility. MAG worked with Valley Metro, the City of Phoenix, and the MAG Transit Committee to develop a proposed implementation program for these funds. This is intended as an interim project pending Valley Metro’s regional inventory and accessibility study next year. The proposed short-term program, Achieving Transit Accessibility Now (ATAN), will award projects by late 2017. Also in 2017, funding and priorities for long-term bus stop and ADA improvements will be identified, with the anticipated implementation of a long-term program in 2018. Projects may include slopes for wheelchairs that are compliant with ADA regulations, adding properly-sized landing pads for wheelchairs, accessible pedestrian systems, and more. The Regional Council voted to approve the program.
For more information, please contact Alice Chen, MAG Transportation Planner, (602) 254-6300.

Information Items

Year End Report on Federal Fiscal Year Regional Funds
The Regional Council received an update for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2016 year end “actuals” (funding actually spent rather than budgeted), and an outlook for FFY 2017. Every year, member agencies request that many projects be deferred for various reasons, usually because of delays in project readiness. This means that funding allocated for the deferred projects is released back into the program to be spent elsewhere. If the funds are not utilized, the federal government will take the unused money back (“use it or lose it”). To ensure that all MAG regional funding is fully used each year and to minimize risk of loss of funding to the region, MAG has been working with its member agencies to reduce the amount of funding carried forward each year. In FFY 2016, MAG ended with $862,305 in carry forward, which it loaned to ADOT, so the money was not lost.

This year (FFY 2017), there is again a surplus of funding that is available. One approach to address the available funding is to hold a closeout process. The closeout process makes funding available for existing projects that may need additional funds. Agencies were asked to submit requests by December 15, 2016, for the 2017 closeout process. The presentation was for information and discussion. The Regional Council will take action on the funding in February.
For more information, please contact Teri Kennedy, MAG Transportation Improvement Program Manager, (602) 254-6300.

Interstate 10/Interstate 17 Corridor Master Plan Update
Transportation planners have nearly completed a two-year study and are preparing final recommendations to improve traffic along the Interstate 10/Interstate 17 corridor. The corridor is known as the “Spine” because it serves as the backbone of the freeway system in the metropolitan area. 

During an update to the Regional Council, staff reported that four public meetings were held in various locations along the corridor to allow members of the public to share final thoughts on the plan recommendations. The study team noted that 233 people signed in at the public meetings, while dozens more attended who did not sign in. Fifty-nine comment forms were turned in at the meetings, while 236 people have completed the online comment form (in both English and Spanish).

Staff noted that more than 40 percent of all daily freeway traffic uses the Spine. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), embarked on the study to develop a master plan for the I-10/I-17 corridor. The 31-mile Spine corridor begins at the I-17/Loop 101 North Stack interchange in the North Valley and travels south and east to the interchange with the I-10/Loop 202 Pecos Stack.

The final plan recommendations are based on extensive public input as well as complex deliberations on key issues, including safety, aging infrastructure, increasing demand, bicycle and pedestrian use, light rail crossings, and emerging technology. Working with ADOT and Valley Metro, staff predicted that the plan will help us make our most heavily traveled freeway corridor safer and more efficient for drivers and residents. In conducting this study, the initial focus was on increasing the throughput for the I-17 freeway, but the study found that the focus should be on improvements for crossing the freeway, since two times the amount of traffic was actually crossing the freeway. Staff noted that this was a vital reminder that economic development is the end goal of the transportation system

The recommendations include upgrades to 24 of 31 traffic interchanges. These include widening or adding structures to improve cross-freeway traffic. Other key recommendations include:

Improving safety by modernizing interstates to current design standards. 

Modernizing interchanges to improve accessibility and safety for truck traffic.

Expanding managed capacity such as High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, to enhance reliability.

Improving availability and reliability for transit and carpooling, including the addition of five direct high occupancy vehicle (DHOV) ramps.

Providing safer bicycle/pedestrian crossings at 20 locations, including nine separate structures.

Protecting the environment by minimizing interstate expansion and addressing flooding issues.

Providing better technology to help communicate travel information to drivers.

Minimizing cost by including tactics for addressing future advancements in technology.

Protecting private property investments.

The public has until February 17, 2017, to provide input online through an interactive map and comment survey at spine.azmag.gov. The study team will then review and consider all feedback received, making any necessary adjustments prior to presenting Corridor Master Plan Recommendations to the Regional Council for adoption, targeted for June of this year.
For more information, please contact Bob Hazlett, Senior Engineering Project Manager, (602) 254-6300.

Disussion of the Development of the FY 2018 Work Program and Budget 
MAG has begun its annual presentation of the Unified Planning Work Program and Annual Budget. This document is developed in conjunction with member agency and public input. The Work Program is reviewed each year by the federal agencies in the spring and approved by the Regional Council in May. In January, MAG provides the draft Dues and Assessments and the proposed budget production timeline. The incremental process provides an opportunity for early input into the development of the Work Program and Budget. The draft MAG Dues and Assessments are developed using the average Consumer Price Index-Urban Consumers (CPI-U) of 2.24 percent. Updated numbers were provided to the MAG Regional Council showing the updated dues.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Kimbrough, MAG Fiscal Services Manager, (602) 254-6300.

Legislative Update
Staff reported on legislative items of interest.  At the federal level, there is uncertainty in infrastructure planning as the new Administration and Congress settle in. There have been pledges to invest in infrastructure from both Republicans and Democrats, but questions remain regarding funding–including how much and what type. Staff noted that a list of high priority infrastructure projects was released and submitted to the transition team by the National Governors Association. These included two Arizona projects: the Fort Mojave Solar Project and the TransWest Express Transmission project, a joint project that includes California and Nevada as well. MAG has reached out to ADOT to determine what might have been submitted for Arizona surface transportation, and it sounds like the Administration may consider additional projects. Also on the federal front is an Executive Order expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects. The order seeks to streamline and expedite environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, identify high priority infrastructure projects within 30 days of submittal, and establish expedited procedures and deadlines.

At the state level, staff discussed proposed sweeps to the Highway User Revenue Fund. The Governor’s budget proposes an $86.5 million sweep. There may be a bipartisan effort to address this. 

Staff noted that a letter to Governor Ducey was sent urging him to stop the transfer of HURF funds to other state programs beyond the annual statutory limit of $20 million.  The letter includes a request to end the assessment to support the operations of the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR), which has amounted to more than $5.1 million in the past two fiscal years. The assessment has been paid with funds from the regional voter-approved half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation improvements.

Staff noted that Senator Farley introduced SB 1090 that proposes that HURF funds only be spent on transportation. The bill has been assigned to both the Transit and Appropriations committees. Staff also reported on House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 2011, which was introduced by Representative Noel Campbell. The resolution proposes raising the fuel tax by 10 cents. 

Finally, staff reported on HB 2010 regarding the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) political subdivision entities. As noted in the Executive Director’s Report above, this bill would remove MAG (among others) from the ability to have new employees enroll in ASRS. Staff stated that ASRS is a significant recruiting tool for MAG and that many employees come from ADOT or cities/towns. This bill has been introduced each session for the past several years.
For more information, please contact Nathan Pryor, MAG Government Relations Manager, (602) 254-6300.

Next Meeting

Please note that the next meeting of the MAG Regional Council will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. at the MAG offices, 302 N. 1st Avenue, Phoenix, second floor, Saguaro Room. Agenda items are expected to include  revisions to the MAG Regional Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Protocol Model; federal fiscal year 2017 Closeout Programming; development of the FY 2018 MAG Unified Planning Work Program and Annual Budget; and a legislative update. Additional agenda items are pending.
For more information, please contact Dennis Smith, MAG Executive Director, (602) 254-6300.

Feb 08, 2017
 
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