Jun 5, 2023 - Politics

San Tan Valley residents express support for incorporation as city

Illustration of a cactus holding a thumbs up.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A survey of San Tan Valley residents commissioned by a Pinal County supervisor may bode well for the latest effort to turn the unincorporated community on the far southeastern edge of the Valley into Arizona's newest city.

Driving the news: A survey distributed to residents via mail, social media and community centers in December and January showed 46% supported incorporating the city, compared to just 17% who wanted San Tan Valley's current governance system to stay the same.

  • 18% wanted to see the community annexed by another city, 10% preferred to create a taxing district for fire services, and 1% supported a taxing district for parks.
  • The survey was distributed by the office of Supervisor Mike Goodman, who represents San Tan Valley and is a supporter of incorporation.
  • 2,700 residents responded.

Why it matters: Incorporated municipalities have taxing authority, can provide public services and provide decision-making that's closer to the people they serve. They're also entitled to a portion of shared tax revenue and transportation dollars.

  • Pinal County provides government services to San Tan Valley, but Goodman told us a city would more effectively be able to provide things like firefighting and parks.
  • Residents would also have to pay additional taxes if San Tan Valley incorporated.
  • San Tan Valley had about 100,000 residents in the 2020 Census, and if it incorporates will likely be the 11th or 12th largest city in Arizona, depending on how many people are within its boundaries.

State of play: A new organization called STV Inc. 2024 launched a campaign in April to incorporate San Tan Valley.

  • The most recent effort fell through in 2018 after Shea Homes informed the county it did not give permission for its Encanterra subdivision to be part of the proposed boundaries.
  • The town of Florence scuttled the last effort before that in 2010 over concerns it would lose about $1 million in shared tax revenue from the state per year.
  • Incorporation efforts in 2004 and 2005 failed to collect enough signatures.

The bottom line: Incorporation can't happen with a public vote, so the survey results are a potentially good sign for the campaign.

What's next: Once the campaign finalizes its proposed boundaries for San Tan Valley, it must get approval from the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to circulate a petition and then collect signatures from 10% of registered voters who would be part of the city.

  • The group hopes to get board approval by January and to finish collecting signatures by July so it can get an incorporation measure on the November 2024 ballot. In the meantime, STV Inc. 2024 is meeting with neighboring cities, including Apache Junction, Florence, Mesa and Queen Creek, and recruiting volunteers.

What they're saying: Florence also hasn't taken a position, but the town has been hostile to previous efforts and killed the 2010 incorporation campaign.

  • Town spokesperson Jeff Graves noted that Florence opposed that effort because it would have lost an estimated $1 million in shared tax revenue.
  • Queen Creek doesn't have a position on the current effort, but spokesperson Constance Halonen-Wilson noted the town council approved resolutions in favor of previous incorporation campaigns in 2004, 2010 and 2017.

Yes, but: Former Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation in 2017 eliminating the ability of cities within 6 miles of a proposed municipality to block its incorporation. He signed another bill last year allowing planned communities to remove itself from a proposed city's boundaries without killing the incorporation effort, as happened in 2018.

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