Town of Florence

The current Florence town logo highlights three key features that make Florence what it is. But its variety of colors and fine details limit its effectiveness, the Town Council was told on Feb. 16.

FLORENCE — The Town Council approved a notice of intention to increase property tax at Monday’s meeting.

The council has yet to discuss raising taxes, but posting a notice of intention on the town website preserves its right to do so. State law now requires a 60-day notice, Florence Finance Director Rebecca Jimenez told the council.

The town did not increase its primary tax levy last year, when the tax rate was $1.06. Town staff is proposing to increase the tax rate this year to the maximum allowable levy of $1,319,321 with a maximum allowable tax rate of $1.08 per $100 of assessed value.

The town also has two new streetlight improvement districts, Nos. 4 and 5, which will be taxed at the maximum rate of $1.20 per $100 of assessed value.

In other business Monday, the council heard a presentation from Florence Community Services Director Hezekiah Allen on Soofa signs, digital kiosks that run on solar power and provide news and information important to a neighborhood.

The sign, easily installed with four bolts in the ground, shares content uploaded by the town, the public and local business, and may also feature a neighborhood events calendar. The content is managed, approved and curated by the vendor. The town is entitled to a minimum of 20% of digital airtime and/or 20% of screen area.

If the council approves the concept, the town will work with the vendor to determine locations. The town is considering one or more signs in the downtown, Anthem and Five Parks areas, according to a town staff report.

Vice Mayor Michelle Cordes asked if these signs were being suggested instead of the kiosks that were requested in the town’s previous sign discussions. Florence Planning Manager Larry Harmer replied no, they would be a supplement to those signs.

Soofa signs can also monitor pedestrian traffic without capturing personal information, Allen told the council. Mayor Tara Walter said she likes the tie-in with Smart Cities, the ease of installation and solar power. Allen said the cost is $4,999 for three signs. The council took no action Monday. More information can be found at https://soofatalk.com.

Town Manager Brent Billingsley reported the town’s engineering team did a speed study on Felix Road between Hunt Highway and Arizona Farms Road, and determined the speed limit should be increased to 45 mph from Hunt Highway to Heritage Road. The speed limit will continue to be posted at 50 mph in the county from Heritage Road to Arizona Farms Road.

In other business, the council:

  • Increased the allowable job order contract from $1 million to $1.5 million for faster maintenance and repairs to public infrastructure. The old limit was set more than 15 years ago, according to a town staff report.
  • Gave final approval to the town’s 2020 Redevelopment Plan Update, a vision and plan for revitalizing the downtown and restoring its vibrancy and sense of place.
  • Heard the first reading of and took no action on an ordinance updating the town’s business license fees. It is intended to be simplified and business-friendly, and help the business community understand why the town collects these fees.
  • Proclaimed National Library Week April 4-10; National Autism Acceptance Month in April; and Fair Housing Month in April. Allen reported that town staff are looking at a plan to reopen the library.
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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.