ELOY — Drivers will have to slow down when passing through the Toltec area along Frontier Street after the Eloy City Council approved, on a 5-1 vote, changing speed advisory signs to allow for stricter enforcement by police.
At issue are the colors of the signs, which police say used to make it difficult to actually cite anyone who was driving faster than the limit. Now with the new signs, drivers should be aware that there are consequences for going too fast.
Vice Mayor Micah Powell was absent during the meeting on Monday night and Councilman J.W. Tidwell voted against changing the signs.
"I don't think this is going to make a difference," Tidwell said. "If people won't slow down in residential to 25 when there are children out playing or when they're trying to cross Battaglia to get to the bus stop, you could put it down to 15 and they're not going to slow down."
Eloy Police Chief Chris Vasquez told the council that during the last traffic detail several months ago, police officers observed motorists reaching speeds of 65 miles per hour or greater and not taking the yellow advisory signs seriously.
"If you say people are going through there at 65 miles an hour, you think you're going to slow them down if you make it 45 miles an hour?" Tidwell asked Vasquez.
Vasquez responded that he does believe that by changing the signs people will slow down.
"When I first got here and started driving through Toltec, those yellow signs, I didn't even see them," Vasquez said. "It didn't jump out at me, unlike the white regulatory speed sign, it just didn't jump out at me."
He added that with the white speed limit signs, officers can issue citations for exceeding the speed limit, which they can't really enforce with the yellow signs.
Vasquez also mentioned that so far this year there have been three fatal accidents along that stretch of road and several other accidents with injuries.
"To sit back and not take all the steps at our disposal to slow it down, I think would not be good," Vasquez said.
During the meeting the council also approved releasing a request for proposal for consulting services to prepare a water and wastewater utility rate study, which should cost no more than $45,000.
"Why do we need to spend $45,000 for something we already know?" Tidwell said. "We know we need a rate structure increase, we know how much money we're currently bringing in, we know how much money is being spent. So why do we need somebody to come in and tell us you need to raise the rates X number of dollars, when our finance department should be able to tell us how much money we have to raise to get the difference?"
Tidwell was the only one to oppose retaining a consultant.
City Manager Harvey Krauss said it's helpful to have an independent party come in that specializes in rate structures.
"It's not only whether we increase the rates, but it's also how the rate is structured," Krauss said. "You have a capital expenditure program so when there are capital expenditure projects that we need to pursue five years from now, we have to have a funding source for those capital projects and we need to build that into your rate structure."
Krauss added that the study will only provide a road map of where the city needs to go in the next five to 10 years, without necessarily adopting the plan.
Rates are planned out for future years and each group of rates and associated fees must provide adequate revenue to ensure funding for all expenditures, he said.
It has been more than five years since the last utility rate study and in May 2013 the council approved two resolutions adopting a rate increase for water and wastewater.
Part of the study process includes making a presentation to the utility advisory board, which has five vacant positions. The city will look to fill at least four seats with citizens and business owners to evaluate the proposed rate schedules.
The council also held a public hearing on a proposed annexation of land east of Sunland Gin Road and between Adams Road and Third Street.
The seven parcels are currently vacant with the exception of the former Eva's Mexican Restaurant.
According to Planning Manager Jerry Stabley, the proposed site will be used as part of the Interstate 10-8 Business Park.
"It (the park) consists of about 620 acres and it's going to be a combination of industrial and commercial uses," Stabley said. "What's interesting about this annexation is that it provides the access to that entire area. So it provides a window out to Sunland Gin Road, which would then provide access to I-10 and Interstate 8."
The proposed 49-acre annexation meets state requirements. Staff filed the initial blank petition on July 22 and will now seek signatures on the annexation petition.
The city would also annex the entire right of way to maintain and improve Sunland Gin Road between Adams Road and Third Street.