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Scottsdale City Council sets ‘Protect and Preserve’ task force marching orders

A view of Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega at City Hall. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/
Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force to issue community survey
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

City Council has set marching orders for the Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force that officials say will serve as the working plan to govern and guide the resident-only task force.

“The purpose and duties of the task force are to develop a recommendation to City Council on a financial strategy to protect and preserve Scottsdale’s open spaces and quality of life through identifying the unfunded needs for the protection, preservation and perpetual maintenance of the city’s open spaces, public safety and other needs,” said Scottsdale Finance Director Gina Kirklin in her report to the local governing board.

City officials say in calendar year 2023, the resident-only task force will meet twice monthly to develop recommendations to Scottsdale City Council through identifying and quantifying unfunded needs for the protection, preservation, and perpetual maintenance of the city’s open spaces, including the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Greenbelt.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve encompasses 30,500 acres and is a permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that is the largest urban park in the United States. Those lands, however, purchased through an affirmative vote of a sales tax increase that is set to expire, still need care and attention.

Now city leaders are looking for guidance on what do next as the voter-approved 0.2% sales tax is set to sunset June 30, 2025. A total of nine positions were filled by unanimous votes of Scottsdale City Council during an early December 2022 special hearing.

Each geographical region of the community has equal representation at City Hall in this matter. Those appointed are:

  • Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force — Northern Scottsdale Area Representative — Jace McKeighan, Cynthia Wenstrom, and John Zikias.
  • Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force — Central Scottsdale Area Representative — James Eaneman, Nicholas Hartmann, and Daniel Schweiker.
  • Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force — Southern Scottsdale Area Representative — Carla Carla, Mark Winkleman, and Raoul Zubia.

Established by resolution No. 12722, which was approved on consent by City Council Tuesday, Jan. 10, Ms. Kirklin explains, the approved work plan provides overarching tasks to be completed with an accompanying timeline for the nine-member group to meet.

Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force to issue community survey

“The work plan progresses in multiple phases, including surveying and determining the priorities and support for replacing the .2% preserve tax; defining and quantifying [the] priority [of] unfunded needs; developing funding recommendations for the unfunded needs; reporting and presenting to the City Council,” Ms. Kirklin explained of the general framework. “Decisions concerning the final direction to move forward with a financial strategy remain the responsibility of the City Council and may also require voter approval.”

An important distinction of the .2% sales tax? The voter-approved sales tax is set by ordinance for acquisitions of land for preservation only.

Ms. Kirklin reports the task force will be issuing a community survey in coming weeks to identify the community’s priorities.

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