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Hockey Prep School in Payson? Or Town funding boondoggle?
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December 31, 2017, 09:59:33 AM
#45
All indications are pointing to our local government entering into an illegal contract, prior to any public meetings or input.  We are now apparently obligated for many thousands of dollars, without any vote of the people here, and with very little due diligence as far as researching Varxity, and it's owners.  In order to get a project of this size, this far, in a community this small...the process would have had to been started many months ago!

Welcome to the conversation Paul.  Glad you are here. 

Given the experience on the sales tax hike, and even the more mundane painting of main street, it does appear that decisions are made long before they are presented to the public.  If you attended the April fools meeting of 2017, you quickly realized there was no "discussion."  (It was helpful that they announced "no discussion" from the front of the room.)

Again, welcome to the conversation.

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December 31, 2017, 10:30:01 AM
#46
Dubious Funding?  Want to help end it? 

For me, this is not about "right" or "left."  It is about transparency at all levels. It is about playing "by the rules" not finding a "work around to the rules."  If you have been around long enough, you know the thing that "helps" your cause or project today is more than likely the exact same thing that will "hurt" your cause in the not too distant future.  In this case dubious funding.  No "side;" right or left, up or down, benefits from that. 

If you agree, and you are so inclined, feel free to copy and paste the following request for a modification to state law via email.

The distribution is as follows:
(copy and paste the email addresses below in "to section")
* * * * * * * * * *

Engage@AZ.gov
allenazsenate@yahoo.com
sallen@azleg.gov
CFernandez@azleg.gov
GPeten@azleg.gov

(You may have to separate via semi-colon in your email)
* * * * * * * * * *

The body content is as follows:
(copy and paste the text below in body section of email)
* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Governor Ducey and Senator Allen:

I am requesting more transparency in government with respect to public finance. 

Please consider a modification / amendment to the Arizona Revised Statute that any ‘Revenue Bond’ that has a ‘Combination’ / ‘Double Barrel’ feature in the indenture agreement be treated as a ‘General Obligation Bond’ requiring a vote to enact / fund. 

This would appear consistent with the ‘spirit’ of the general obligation bond requirements and preclude potential abuse of the ‘revenue’ bond. 

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

* * * * * * * * * *


To learn more about a "Double Barrel Bond" or "Combination Bond" and why they are dangerous; they are discussed in this post and the one right below it.


Obviously, I sent the same.  A little different, but yes, same jest. 




Thank you, if you do; and I understand if you do not. 



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December 31, 2017, 10:57:26 AM
#47
Just a quick thank you.

When I started this, I was concerned that my efforts would be for my own entertainment.  Seeing people involved, read and react, is good. As we approach 2500 unique views on this topic, and over 4,000 on Facebook, I wanted to say "thank you." 

If you want a new Rec Center, I fully support you as long as we get there the right way.  My goal is not "anti growth" or no "Rec Center."  My goal is, and remains, an educated decision with an open, honest, process. 

So, Thank you! if you took the time to read all of this to date, or have participated in any fashion.  Together we will make Payson a town we can be proud of.     :D

Again, feel free to log in, join the debate, provide me insight?





Wishing you all the best for the coming New Year,  and a very prosperous 2018, Rec Center or not.   ;)



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January 04, 2018, 08:00:29 AM
#48
Quick Shout Out to Buckskin Chick.

Glad you are here.  I have no idea why you could not post?  Maybe the confirmation email got caught up in spam?  I think one is auto generated.  I am all ears and eyes for comments.  So, by all means, feel free to join in the conversation. 

In any event, thank you for taking the time to contact me directly.  I share your concerns 100% and may request some greater detail on the exact costs we discussed in the near future. 

Thank you again for the information. 

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January 04, 2018, 08:15:48 AM
#49
The Governor's office was kind enough to respond to my suggestion.  Snip is below. 

I suspect that a revision to A.R.S. will be an uphill battle.  It could cost various agencies, towns, etc millions in election, placement and interest costs.  But seriously, who can be against "Greater Transparency?" The costs?  An unfortunate byproduct to ensure there is no abuse.  It is NEVER my goal to spend more tax money.  (OK, sometimes, but generally no.)

We can call it the "Payson Provision."  Payson can be the reason other cities, towns, school districts, etc can't have nice things without higher costs? 

I should seek some input from other towns?  See if they have any ideas to ensure that a "Revenue bond" has, well, "revenue" without being overly burdensome?   









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January 04, 2018, 11:40:41 AM
#50
The 26 Acres is reported to be in "Escrow." The Mayor is on record as saying such, it is discussed in this post. 

One thing I enjoy much more than Zumba! is semantics.  Hand in hand with semantics is "connotation."  Allow me to explain. 

When your friend says, "I have a house in escrow."  That is generally a positive thing.  You assume life is good and respond "Hey great!" 

When the same friend says "My house in in foreclosure" you conclude life could be better and respond "bummer."  Foreclosure is a form of escrow.  But, one word is more succinct than the other.  It conveys the message a bit clearer.  Semantics and connotation come together to convey the message with clarity. 

I revisited the 26 Acres.  It appears it is "in escrow" and it appears it is "in foreclosure" (Specifically a "Trustee's Sale.") 

That does not preclude it being under contract with Varxity, for the prep school, but it sure does add intrigue?  It also may explain why TTLC has not responded to a request for comment?  Time will tell?  We will come back to the 26 Acres after the scheduled sale of 2/23/18? 


The full .pdf document is attached.  Log in, download if you care to. 











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January 04, 2018, 11:52:30 AM
#51
Some meetings coming up.  Some questions to be asked. 




Figured it may be helpful to have access to some potential questions?  Not for a moment do I figure they would entertain me asking them all.  Not for a moment is it a full list.  Add yours? 

Generally I have attachments if you log in.  Figured this one is important, so, no log in required.  The complete package for you to print, share, whatever.  (click link - it opens 49 page pdf package.)   It includes the Town's procurement policy, the "Tri Party" contract and some possible questions? 

Hope to see you at one of the upcoming events. 









BTW, not to worried about "pre-notice" on the potential questions.  It will be good to get official answers
.     ;)

Again, here is The complete package  (click on link - opens in .pdf for you to print / review.)



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January 06, 2018, 10:42:11 AM
#52
You may recall that Lane Moore was reported to be in talks with the Gilbert for “ten months.”  Well, the Gilbert Mayor had no recollection of this. 

But, sometimes things happen.  Gilbert does have an Ice Rink.  You guessed it, I followed up with them as well.   ;)


You decide, ten months of talks?    ::)







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January 06, 2018, 11:19:16 AM
#53
It is good to have friends – Part one.

As you may suspect, I am easy to find.  We have over 3,000 unique views on this topic, and over 5,000 on Facebook (Thanks again for that!  8)  )   Consequently, some folks are reaching out to me.  Thank you for your confidence. I can forget names with the best of them.   

Recently a friend told me there may be a meeting at 9:30 am this coming Monday in Town Council Chambers for Town employees?  I would hate to think it is a “pep rally” for the new Rec Center.  The Town is one of the largest employers here.  An employee meeting to “rally the troops” for this project has a certain something to it?  ???  What if "the troops" share the concerns that I and others do?  Will they be free to speak without retribution?  A job / career is a valuable thing. 

The funding process appears it may qualify as an administrative action, not a purely political action, but let’s be honest, this is politics.  For all the world this appears to be a work around to a general election vote on a bond.  If this were a bond referendum, would that be allowed?  I wonder if there are rules regarding the use of public funds and spaces for this type of activity?

Would be good to be a fly on the wall?   





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January 06, 2018, 01:20:20 PM
#54
It is good to have friends – Part two. 

Recently another friend of mine found and shared with me, the needle in the haystack.  We had previously discussed “elite prep schools”  But it was not an exact comparison.  Well, let me introduce you to CIH Academy. (1) They are an elite prep hockey school complete with boarding.  Near as I can tell, this is the exact business model that is being followed.  A very iInformative site.  Poke around a bit and learn more? 




In the event you don’t want to poke too much, some highlights for you.  First, the school.  CIHA partners with Blythe Academy Online.  (2) Well, so much for some of the new jobs?  They do have some limited staff, but this does not appear to be 100% staffed with teachers. 

The student body?  Well, they also have housing.



How many kids?

Quote
Our comfortable and secure residence can accommodate up to 80 student-athletes. Each floor has a common area where friends can get together to watch television, play games and even prepare small meals. (3)

Wait 80?  What happened to 600?

Here is a “day in the life” even comes with video.







How much? 




So, 80 kids at $34,000.00? (4)  (Gross of $2,720,000.00)  Hmmmmm….. that is not the discussed 600 at $50,000.00.  (Gross of $30,000,000.00)

The facilities?  Top notch! 

Quote
CIH Arena’s 100,000 sq ft facility holds two NHL size rinks, one capable of accommodating up to 2000 spectators.
Smaller space for corporate events are available, our facilities offer free Wi-Fi and audio visual amenities. (5)







WOW!  Now it is 100,000 sf and we still don’t have a pool? 
  At least they have 'Wi-Fi"  I can post from there?  ;D

So, how does a “elite prep school” that has gross sales of $3,000,000.00 +/- pay for that?

Let me introduce you to the nice place of Clarence Rockland. (6)    A stone’s throw to Ottawa.  Almost like Gilbert to Phoenix.  It looks like a lovely place, with a population of about 25,000 plus they have public transportation. (7)  Yes, this is a publicly owned arena for the limited use of citizens, the exclusive use of the academy and others. In this one, it is managed by Canlan Ice Sports Corp. 

Quote
This state of the art multi-purpose twin-pad facility has fast become one of the premier indoor sports destinations for competition, leagues, tournaments and camps. The facility, owned by the City of Clarence-Rockland and managed by CIH Academy is entering its 5th season of operations. It is located 15 minutes east of Ottawa and features two NHL-size rinks with one accommodating up to 2,000 spectators, ten dressing rooms, press boxes, fitness centre, tuck shop, therapy rooms and tenant spaces.

CIH Academy is Eastern Ontario's premier Hockey Prep School for athletes from Grades 8 to 12. This co-ed institution recruits, educates and trains student-athletes from around the world that live in residence right on site. CIH Academy offers a unique nine-month hockey program with teams sanctioned by Hockey Canada that play at the highest possible level within the Hockey Eastern Ontario branch. CIH Academy provides a uniquely rich and diversified experience for their students. ( 8 )

Now here is where it gets really fun.  A blurb:

Quote
Located 40 kilometres east of downtown Ottawa in the charming town of Rockland, the academy opened its doors four years ago with Gatorade and CCM as sponsors and the full blessing of Hockey Canada. It’s a prep school, but the kind where Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley is on the faculty as a senior hockey adviser and where the 90 students, who are often hand-picked by the school’s scouts, have little to no body fat and walk to class with books in one hand and a post-workout protein shake in the other.

The sprawling campus, which sits on 35 lush acres overlooking the Ottawa River, has everything a hockey player could want: an outdoor rink with wraparound boards, unlimited skate sharpening and pro-style dressing rooms with an ice bath that Girouard, the academy’s hockey director, says would make most junior teams jealous.

The focal point of it all is a $27-million, twin-ice training centre with a 2,000-seat arena. (9)

Wait!  $27m?  $27,000,000.00?   

Wow!  Oh yea, loonies, not green backs.  ;D  Exchange rate at the current $0.81? 

$21.75 MILLION! 



Wow! 





* * *

(1)   https://www.cihacademy.com/page
(2)   https://blytheducation.com/blyth-academy-online/
(3)   https://www.cihacademy.com/page/campus/boarding-life
(4)   https://www.cihacademy.com/page/admissions/tuition-cost
(5)   https://www.ciharena.com/gallery/
(6)   http://www.clarence-rockland.com/index.php/en/
(7)   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence-Rockland
( 8 )   https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/11/23/789715/10157116/en/Canlan-Ice-Sports-Corp-Selected-to-Manage-the-CIH-Arena.html
(9)   http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2015/12/15/the-cost-of-hockey-buying-into-the-dream

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January 06, 2018, 01:47:49 PM
#55
OK, while looking into this a bit more I ran across the following series of four articles.  If you are at all interested in the viability of this project, and the feasibility of supporting it with YOUR tax dollars, they are well worth the read. 


PART I: The cost of hockey: Buying into the dream
http://torontosun.com/2015/12/15/the-cost-of-hockey-buying-into-the-dream/wcm/aec56d95-cac8-43da-b8a2-89f9371baf86
PART II: The cost of hockey: Training-studying balance
http://torontosun.com/2015/12/16/the-cost-of-hockey-training-and-studying-balance/wcm/934ac9b1-3919-4a24-87a0-77a85caeec90
PART III: The cost of hockey: High price to chase a dream
http://torontosun.com/2015/12/16/the-cost-of-hockey-high-price-to-chase-a-dream/wcm/10bfa64f-c9f9-434e-a93d-e15aafb080f2
PART IV: The cost of hockey: Year-round hockey not for everyone
http://torontosun.com/2015/12/17/the-cost-of-hockey-year-round-hockey-not-for-everyone/wcm/67a47fd9-bc96-489c-90de-5992c7f27d64

An excellent series of articles.  I will ask Mr. Traikos, the author, if he has any insight on the financial impacts on cities. 

Some blurbs from the first

Quote
With Hockey Canada now licensing academies — former president Bob Nicholson’s son went to Okanagan Hockey Academy — the landscape has changed since then. There are now 26 licensed academies across the country and another 100 or so that are unlicensed. All told, Hockey Canada says about 5,000 schools — from all-day academies to local high schools — offer hockey as part of their curriculum. (1)

Quote
At Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C., the final bell rings at 1 p.m., whereupon students head to the rink or gym for another four or five hours of on- and off-ice training. Electives, such as music or art, are replaced with ice time. “Here at PEAC, being on the ice from September to June, you would be on the ice for about 310 hours,” says managing director Robb Nelson. “You would be training two-and-a-half, three times more than the average kid. So it’s like someone who reads once a week and someone who reads five times a week. Who’s going to read better? If you want it, you’re going to get to the next level.”

A year’s tuition to PEAC is $53,000. The Okanagan Hockey Academy charges $35,000 a year — more if you’re from out of province. Tuition for students living at the Canadian International Hockey Academy is $39,900 a year.
That does not include mandatory fees such as equipment ($600 to $800), school uniform ($350-$500), textbooks ($300) and $1,000 for such things as orientation week, SAT prep courses and exams. (1)

Quote
The Okanagan Hockey Academy had 16 students when it was founded in 2002. All were boys. Today, there is an academy in Austria (100 students) and England (50 students), while another opened in Edmonton this September (20 students, with 20 more expected next year). The original Penticton location, which underwent a $90-million expansion in 2008, now has 136 students, of which 21 are female.

PEAC had six students studying inside a portable when it launched 12 years ago, before taking over a 22,000-square foot abandoned airplane hangar with 14 classrooms and a state-of-the-art gym for its 108 students, half of which are in the hockey program. There are plans to expand further, by adding a residence in the 80,000-square foot space above. (1)

Six (6!)?  50?  100?  Nowhere near 600.  $90m in expansion?

You want this to proceed?  By all means; just use real world numbers. 

* * *

(1)   http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2015/12/15/the-cost-of-hockey-buying-into-the-dream

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January 06, 2018, 07:26:03 PM
#56
Well, the plans are up.  Too bad for "Fido." 

The proposed rec center at Rumsey Park will indeed require changes to the current amenities.  This can be both good and bad.  While the proposed 27,000 square feet of current proposed changes (hockey rink and an Olympic sized pool make me question if 27,000 square feet is enough but that is another topic) will require the removal of some of the amenities such as the skate park and the dog “park”, they are reassuring that these amenities will be relocated and improved upon.  I hope so.  I imagine the local kids enjoy the skate park.  I personally do not utilize the skate park and my bones are thankful, however in various communities I have lived the skate park was a favorite hangout for the teenagers. 

We do have dogs.  I am hopeful they are sincere in their statement that the dog “park” will be moved and I would be extremely curious about the improvements.  The Payson Town website boasts:

Quote
“Rumsey Dog Park is a quaint dog park with plenty of shade trees and ample open space for your dog to run, play, and receive plenty of exercise. This park has two separate areas for large and small dogs.” (1)

What would be a really nice addition to the possibility of a relocated improved dog “park” you might ask?  Grass.  Grass would be really nice for a dog “park”.  They could throw in a few extra trees for that matter.  This town does not seem overly dog friendly in that there is one designated place to allow your dog off leash and to run around and if I am picking gravel out of their paws afterwards, well let’s just say it isn’t our go to spot.  So with what they have currently available I do not anticipate that the relocated and improved dog “park” will necessarily be much better than what we currently have. 

Many might have the opinion that as we have dogs we should be providing a paw friendly place for them to run around – except we cannot have grass either. Grass in this town is the Holy Grail, and I completely understand that especially with water usage to keep it, well, grassy.   There is a great place for this actually at Green Valley Park.  They boast “Green Valley Park is a 45-acre park at the west end of Main Street that features three lakes and several decorative fountains. As part of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's urban fishing program, the three lakes are stocked with rainbow trout from October to May.  Picnic ramadas and a grassy amphitheater complete the park's family atmosphere.”  So yes! Lots of grass but a big NO to off leash area even though there is lots and lots and lots of space (and grass). 

I completely understand having an area that is enclosed.  I am also curious if the dog park ever had grass.  Even more curious if those that took into consideration the dog park ever owned a dog, or at least one they liked.

The Town of Payson wants to bring a lot of changes to our little spot of heaven.  Change can be good.  It seems counter-intuitive to recreate the wheel though and instead of improving or maintaining what is currently available the answer appears to be to bulldoze and start over.  I would like to redo my kitchen so maybe I should just raze the house and start over?  That is always the most financially sound option right? 

Oh yes, the pretty pictures and maps? 

Option 1



Option 2



Option 3



Current Plan



Even my dog knows that a $20,000,000.00 "Training Center" for 100 "Elite Prep Hockey Players" is a bad idea. His take?  Lets just say sticking his tongue out was not his first choice?   





* * *

(1) https://www.paysonrimcountry.com/parks



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January 07, 2018, 10:55:02 AM
#57
It's interesting that the official slant on this, is that the property is in 'escrow'.  However, they seem to conveniently omit the fact that it is actually a pending forclosure!

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January 07, 2018, 02:01:09 PM
#58
It's interesting that the official slant on this, is that the property is in 'escrow'.  However, they seem to conveniently omit the fact that it is actually a pending forclosure!

Again, the "foreclosure" does not preclude a deal with Varxity. Time will tell?  I agree the choice of words is curious.  "Escrow" is generally a positive connotation. 

It is fascinating to see the development of the semantics in the process.  There are clear talking points and I really like semantics more than Zumba!   :D

Even the pretty pictures above are telling.  You will note two separate buildings  "Community Center" and "Training Center."  So from one, spring two? From one building spring multiple new fields? (Option 3 evens shows removal / relocation of current utilities?) My guess is the transformation and talking points will continue to evolve and  will be as follows from those listed above. 

From this:
Risk Neutral
Private Activity Bond
Rec Center


To this:
Revenue Neutral (Allows for placement of "Revenue Bond" with out a Town vote.)
Bond (Lets be honest, there is no private activity here, well, nothing that has a reasonable expectation of being a zero cost to the Town.)
Community Center / Training Center (Multiple buildings and a significant increase is scope / spending.)

When people ask, the answer will be "nope - discussed all along."  Like I say, I love me some semantics. 



I sure hope the folks near Rumsey are ready for that 100,000+ sf building and all of us are ready to pay for it all with no Town vote.  I sure hope people are ready to give up their input / voice / vote in such large decisions.  Again, time will tell. 

Seems to me the money could be better spent else where?  Maybe I just lack the proper vision? 

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January 09, 2018, 04:45:11 PM
#59
Time for fun.  Looks like the Town is looking for a "Budget Analyst?" 

In case you are looking - here you go





Here, let me help. 

Don't budget $50,000.00 for a project, agree to $125,000.00, and tell us it is a "half price bargain." 

Budget. Analyzed.  ;)


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