An application for annexation has been submitted to the Town of Queen Creek by a resident of the Encanterra community. The next step in the current annexation process, which is guided by State law, includes the Town reviewing the application, including making any adjustments the map to ensure it reflects the needs of the applicant and the Town; the current revisions were made to the map based on feedback from the commercial landowners included in the previously drawn map. Once the map is agreed upon, the Town prepares the petition packet and delivers the packet to the Pinal County Assessor’s Office.
Historically, the Town of Queen Creek’s philosophy for residential and commercial annexations has been for the property owners to initiate discussions. Roadways and necessary right-of-way have been approached differently as the Town did not include any roadways when it incorporated in 1989 and acquiring land is often necessary to accomplish roadway improvements. Maricopa and Pinal counties often require the Town to annex roadways as part of joint projects. Having the Town annex the roads provides faster maintenance and local control.
Legally, a majority of the property owners in the defined area must be in favor of annexation, in addition to a majority of property value, for an area to be annexed by the Town. Once the necessary number of supporters have been submitted to the Town, the Town Council considers six criteria when voting to bring the property into the Town, keeping in mind annexation is making a commitment to provide services, which come at a cost:
- Financial: Analysis of fiscal impact to the Town including one-time and recurring revenues and expenses.
- Economic Development: Potential for desired growth; job creation in targeted clusters and opportunities identified in the Town’s Economic Development Strategic Plan.
- Civic: Growth of our political subdivision, civic pride, and sense of community.
- Planning and Building: Impacts to the Town land use program; parks, trails and open space program; surrounding properties; extent of compliant/non-compliant structures.
- Public Safety: Impacts to existing program; demand for new services.
- Legal: Considerations for successful annexation; identification of required process and procedures.
A summary of the annexation process, guided by state law, is provided below:
- The annexation process officially begins when the applicant submits the annexation application to the Town of Queen Creek with a map identifying the proposed area.
- After reviewing the application, the Town prepares the petition packet and delivers it to the Pinal County Assessor’s Office.
- Pinal County Assessor’s Office will provide a list of all property owners included in the map within 30 days.
- The Town records a blank Petition Packet with the Pinal County Recorder’s Office, which initiates a 30-day waiting period.
- A public hearing is held with notification to all property owners in the proposed area. No action is taken at the public hearing.
- Following the public hearing and 30-day waiting period, the applicant may begin collecting signatures of the property owners in the proposed area. To be eligible for annexation, petition signatures must represent more than half the property owners and more than half the assessed value in the area to be annexed.
- All signatures must be verified.
- A Town Council meeting is held for the Council to vote on the annexation ordinance.
- If approved, the annexation becomes effective after a 30-day waiting period.
The above steps are a summary of the process. For a full list of the annexation steps and requirements, outlined in ARS 9-471, visit AZLeg.gov.
Responses to commonly asked questions related to annexation:
How much is Queen Creek’s property tax?
Becoming a part of a municipality increases the level of services that are provided, which are paid for with taxes. The Town of Queen Creek has a primary property tax that can only be used for public safety (fire and law enforcement); property owners pay $1.95 per $100 of assessed valuation to Queen Creek (assessed valuation of homes in Encanterra is determined by Pinal County). Consistent with other municipalities, local public safety services are funded through property or sales tax (or a combination of both), while residents continue to pay county property taxes for services rendered through the county.
Queen Creek’s property tax would replace any current Rural Metro subscriptions. There are likely to be slight variations between the Town’s property tax and Rural Metro subscriptions as the Town’s property tax is based on assessed valuation and Rural Metro is based on square footage.The Town’s property tax pays for both fire and law enforcement, but only covers approximately 39% of the entire costs. The difference is paid through the Town’s general fund, and other revenue sources.
According to data from Pinal County, the median limited property value (LPV) for the 1,264 improved residential parcels in Encanterra is $256,565 with an average LPV of $261,410 making the median property tax for Queen Creek $500 and the average $510.
The Town’s projections for a 5-fire station system do not include any increase in taxes. Additionally, the primary property tax cannot be increased without going to the residents of Queen Creek for a vote.
To calculate what your property tax would be in Queen Creek, download the property tax calculator located at QueenCreek.org/Annexation and follow the steps listed on the calculator.
How does the Town provide fire protection services?
Queen Creek began providing fire service in 2008. There are currently three fire stations in Queen Creek:
Fire Station 1: 20678 E. Civic Parkway
Fire Station 2: 24787 S. Sossaman Road
Fire Station 3: 19159 E. Queen Creek Road
Pending approval of the fiscal year (FY) 18/19 budget (summer 2018), Queen Creek Fire & Medical (QCFMD) will open a fire station at 980 W. Combs Road to service the eastern areas of Town. A new engine and staffing will be in place to service the new fire station, which is scheduled to open in January 2019. Additionally, QCFMD anticipates the opening of a fire station at Queen Creek and Signal Butte in early 2020.
Homeowners insurance rates are formulated based on a variety of factors, including Insurance Services Office, or ISO, ratings. Based on a scale from one to 10, with one being the best. QCFMD has one of the lowest ISO ratings in Arizona, currently a two. The fire station at 980 W. Combs will be just over one mile from both entrances to Encanterra and will also serve the entire east side of Queen Creek. As a result, Encanterra would receive QCFMD’s ISO rating of a two. The fire station on Queen Creek and Signal Butte is just over five miles from Encanterra.
The automatic aid system is the interagency agreement that allows the closest engine to respond to an emergency regardless of jurisdiction. QCFMD, Gilbert, Mesa, Superstition and other East Valley providers are part of the automatic aid system. Additionally, QCFMD has a signed agreement with Rural Metro to provide mutual aid when necessary.
How does the Town provide law enforcement services?
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) serves as Queen Creek’s police provider. Through the Town’s contract with MCSO, there is a substation (police station) in Town with 41 deputies assigned to serve Queen Creek. The substation has a dedicated MCSO captain that serves as Queen Creek’s police chief.
Queen Creek enjoys a low crime rate with community policing being the highest call for service, followed by traffic collisions and patrol watch/welfare checks. Level of service for law enforcement can be determined based on a variety of factors including deputies per 10,000 residents, deputies per square mile and the level and types of calls received. Queen Creek’s level of service for law enforcement is high across methods:
Population: 9 deputies per 10,000
Square miles: 1 deputy per .78 miles
While the Town’s dedicated substation is located in Town Center, MCSO District 6 follows a proactive or community policing model, meaning deputies are working in locations strategically placed throughout the community when they are not on a call, increasing partnerships and community engagement. As a result, the response time can be substantially lower.
With the recent annexation of Ironwood Crossing, the Town is researching the most effective way to enhance the level of service as a result of the increased population. MCSO District 6 is constantly working with Town management and MCSO management to evaluate community needs.
In addition to proactive patrol, MCSO District 6 participates in the following programs:
- Vacation Watch: designed to add a layer of protection for residents while they are on vacation.
- Business Watch: designed to enhance communication between law enforcement and local law enforcement.
- MedicAlert: partnership with MedicAlert and Mercy Maricopa to help increase the likelihood that law enforcement will successfully reunite individuals with family members in the event they go missing.
- Coffee with a Cop: community policing initiative to allow residents to get to know their local deputies. Events also typically include Child ID.
- Prescription Drug Take-Back Days: providing a safe, convenient, and responsible method to dispose of prescription drugs.
Other than property taxes for public safety, how does the Town fund their services?
Each year, the Town of Queen Creek is required to pass a balanced budget. Meaning our expenses cannot be larger than our revenues. The Town's budget operates on a fiscal year (FY), from July 1 through June 30. The priorities of the current budget, FY18/19, include a focus on new and improved roadways, public safety and new water/wastewater infrastructure.
A growing community is faced with constructing improvements tied to the need now and the foreseeable future based on master planning. For example, the water system needs to be developed before the newest resident turns on their water facet for the first time. Yet we have not collected all revenues in the form of water revenues, state shared revenues or impact fees from that resident/home.
Queen Creek does not issue debt to pay any operating costs. The only debt is a result of the major capital improvements that we have financed in order to build or acquire. Capital debt allows you to build infrastructure, and then pay for it over time with revenues from all the users of the system today as well as in the future. From a public policy perspective, we believe those that benefit from the service should pay for that service so the debt addresses this through inter-generational equity. Queen Creek’s debt is similar to a mortgage, where it is paid over 20-30 years.
The Town has received a series of credit rating increases over the past 10 years, with a current rating of AA. During the last rating review, Fitch ratings service gave the Town a two-step increase, showing continued confidence in the Town and our local economy. Rating agencies look at four main categories: debt burden, management, financial performance, and economic base.
For additional information about the Town's budget, visit QueenCreek.org/Budget.
What other costs for services exist in Queen Creek?
The Town of Queen Creek provides curbside trash and recycling collection through a contract with Right Away Disposal. The Town’s rate is $16.22 per month, and would be included on the water bill. The service includes weekly, same day trash/recycling collection, a monthly bulk pick up (must be scheduled in advance), special collection events and household hazardous waste disposal. Town collection services would replace any current trash and recycling fees after the current contract is complete.
Encanterra currently receives water from the Town of Queen Creek, and will continue to do so. Water rates and fees are based on usage and meter size; a breakdown of the rates and fees is available online at QueenCreek.org/Water. A rate study is completed prior to raising water rates. It is not typical to raise rates within one area and not another, as the study looks at the utility as a whole.
How will roadways be impacted by annexation?
State law requires cities and towns to annex the full road right-of-way when annexing lands adjacent to public roads. Any public roads in the annexation area would become the responsibility of the Town. If Pinal County would like to initiate a separate maintenance agreement for a roadway in the annexed area, where they maintain that road, the Town would consider such an agreement. The Queen Creek Public Works and Pinal County Public Works departments work together on a regular basis.
Concerns about roads that are annexed into the Town would be made to Town Hall, and the Town Council would decide on any improvement projects. Private roads and easements would not change; even after annexation they remain the responsibility of property owners.
The Queen Creek Town Council continues to make transportation improvements a priority. They recently approved a $195 million infrastructure improvement plan (IIP) that will add 91 new lane miles through 41 projects over the next 10 years. Projects within the IIP are prioritized based on traffic volume and availability of alternate routes. The following projects in the southeast area of Town are under construction or slated to begin design within the next year:
Riggs Road – Ellsworth to Meridian: The Riggs Road extension is a two-phase project with construction and costs being split between the Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and the Town of Queen Creek. MCDOT recently completed the first phase from Ellsworth to Crismon. The second phase, being led by the Town, will extend Riggs from Crismon to Meridian. The second phase is anticipated to be complete in spring 2019. The new roadway will include two westbound lanes, one eastbound lane, bike lanes, curb and a sidewalk on the north. The roadway will be expanded to six lanes as development occurs in the area, with the new developments paying for the expansion.
Rittenhouse Road - Riggs Road to 213th Street: The project is currently in the design phase and construction is anticipated to begin in 2019/2020. Improvements will include widening Rittenhouse Road to two lanes in each direction with turn lanes at intersections and curb, gutter, bike lanes, sidewalks, drainage, intersection and street light improvements. The Maricopa County Department of Transportation will also be replacing the bridge over the Queen Creek Wash.
Meridian Road - Combs to the Queen Creek Wash: The project is anticipated to begin design in 2018/2019, with construction anticipated to begin in 2019/2020. Half street improvements will include paving, sidewalks, drainage and street lights. A full, multi-barrel culvert, or bridge, will be included at the Queen Creek Wash. The remaining half-street improvements will be completed as development occurs.
For a full list of Queen Creek’s roadway improvements, visit QueenCreek.org/BetterRoadsAhead.
Why would a community/area consider annexation?
Annexing into an existing municipality provides access to local representation. Queen Creek’s Town Council, comprised of seven locally elected officials, make decisions on rate structures, fees and building policies. These local elected officials are accountable to the voters of the Town of Queen Creek and provide opportunities for your input. All Town Council meetings and studies are publicly available. Residents will continue to also be represented by their respective board supervisor in the county they reside.
An example of the value of local representation is related to the Queen Creek Library. The Library is operated by Maricopa County, but the Town recently worked with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Library District to offer services to any Pinal County residents who reside within the incorporated Queen Creek Town limits.
In addition to the quality public safety services funded through the Town’s property tax, the Town’s sales tax supports roadway improvements, parks and trails and other community amenities.
Additionally, services are provided through Queen Creek’s Town Hall rather than requiring trips to Phoenix or Florence. The quality of development required by the Town leads to improved property values and long-term benefits.
More About the Town of Queen Creek
The Town of Queen Creek was incorporated in 1989. The Town strives to honor the past, manage the present and embrace the future. To learn more about the Town’s history, watch the Town’s 25th anniversary video, From Rittenhouse to the QC.
Every 10 years, Queen Creek residents vote on the Town’s General Plan. Queen Creek’s General Plan serves as the Town's road map to guide development, appropriately manage growth, and effectively conserve natural resources. The current General Plan was approved by voters in May 2018.
The General Plan also integrates existing strategic plans including:
The Town’s Economic Development Department actively promotes commercial sites for new development for areas located within the Town boundaries. Town Center continues to see improvements, like the new Picket Post Square, and welcome new businesses. To learn about the new businesses coming to Queen Creek, visit QueenCreek.org/NewBusinesses.
Queen Creek offers unique agritainment destinations, creating agricultural experiences. Schnepf Farms offers a U pick garden, hayrides and events throughout the year. The Queen Creek Olive Mill is the only working olive mill in Arizona and provides tours, delicious food and a great atmosphere. Sossaman Farms is in the process of developing a new Heritage Corner that will complement Hayden Flour Mill, currently housed on the farm. Recognizing the importance of these areas, and in an effort to support them, the Town adopted an agritainment zoning district.
The Town hosts a series of signature events throughout the year, in addition to Town sponsored and community events. Events provide a positive social experience, bringing friends and neighbors together. To learn more about upcoming events happening in Queen Creek, visit QueenCreek.org/SpecialEvents.