With a vote of 7-0, the Senate Government Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would "fix the currently flawed Arizona law that allows communities of more than 15,000 people to move forward with a vote on whether or not they want to become a town/city without permission from neighboring communities, as long as that community is not in Pinal County", said San Tan Valley resident, Tisha Castillo.
If the bill clears the Senate, it will head to Governor Doug Ducey for his signature.
If signed, this legislation would allow communities with more than 15,000 people, the right to place an incorporation initiative on a ballot for a vote, without requiring a resolution from smaller neighboring communities, who currently have veto power over the vote if the community is in Pinal County.
"San Tan Valley residents have been desperately waiting for the opportunity to determine their own future,” said Castillo.
San Tan Valley is by far the largest community in Pinal County and at least double the size of almost every municipality surrounding it. By taking away the veto power of smaller neighboring communities, San Tan Valley residents would be able to decide for themselves if they want to vote on whether or not they want to become their own municipality and if they do, smaller towns could no longer block that vote.
Ending the veto power of Florence, Apache Junction and Queen Creek however does nothing to guarantee that San Tan Valley would become a town/city. "This legislation does nothing more than allow the residents of San Tan Valley to decide for themselves if they want to vote on becoming a city", said Castillo. "If they do, they still have to follow the rules set out in statute which includes gathering enough support to actually put it on the ballot for a vote."
Until 2011, all such cities/towns had veto power over communities in their area. That veto power however was removed for any community, outside of Pinal County, with at least 15,000 residents. The amendment allowed residents of Vail, AZ, who were also being blocked from a vote, to pursue a vote on incorporation. The residents in Vail put the initiative on the ballot and voted it down.
"Some people may consider Vail's NO vote a failure, but in my opinion it isn't," said Castillo. "The residents of Vail were able to decide for themselves what they wanted to be. That is all we are asking for. This isn't about incorporating. It's about having the right to decide for ourselves what our future will look like."