Citywide improvements begin while budget gains approval

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Staff Writer

Although councilmembers questioned part of the fiscal year 2018-19 city budget, it was passed unanimously during the June 12 council meeting.
The FY18-19 final budget request totals $689 million, which is a 2.5 percent increase over the prior year’s budget (FY17-18) of $672 million. The budget increase is mainly attributable to an increase in debt service payments and Public Safety Personnel Retirement System contribution costs.
While Weiers did not go into specifics of the concerns he and councilmembers have discussed since budget talks began, he expressed satisfaction with the final result.
“I do like this budget, especially where we have come from over the past few years,” Mayor Jerry Weiers said. “There are some things that obviously, I think all of us, including city staff, would have liked to have done a little different, but the fact is you only have so much money to spend.”
The new budget allocated money for the construction of the long promised new library at Heroes Park, road improvements throughout the city, more money for park improvements, more public safety funds, infrastructure upgrades to the water treatment plants, flood control upgrades and more staff and equipment for the city’s code compliance.
The budget also kept the city’s property tax levy the same with no increase.
The new budget also continues to increase funding of the general fund with a goal of getting $50 million by the end of the next fiscal year (June 2019).
“The real shining bright light that all of us need to remember is very, very likely at this time next year, we’re going to have accomplished a goal that we set out three years ago, and that’s to actually have funds in a rainy day fund that we won’t have to put any more money into it,” Weiers said. “And that’s going to give us some other opportunities that we fought so hard this year and maybe, we’ll have some more money next year.”
The new library at Heroes Park, which began construction June 11 and had an official groundbreaking June 27, is expected to be completed during spring 2019. The budget also includes operating costs for six months of operations when the library opens.
Yucca District Councilmember Joyce Clark, who said one of her main reasons for running for election in 2016 was the park and library and has been advocating for the project for more than 20 years, was emotional during the official groundbreaking.
“I insisted we do something to recognize that this library is coming,” Clark said. “I’m going to celebrate and cry at the same time. Celebrate because it’s finally happening and cry because it’s taken so long.”
The library, which was originally planned to be 33,500 square feet in size, will initially be about 7,500 square feet with room for expansion.
“I insisted that the building be expandable,” Clark said.
The city’s other three libraries are considerably larger, with Velma Teague at 25,000 square feet, Foothills at 35,000 and the Main Library at 65,000.
The new budget also includes continued funding of full-time school resource officers at all nine high schoold in the city limits, with five being new positions.
The city implemented the SROs in response to the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., school shooting when city officials decided to place dedicated SROs at Deer Valley, Mountain Ridge, Apollo, Glendale and Independence high schools. Deer Valley and Mountain Ridge had SROs, but they were off-duty officers, not dedicated SROs. Raymond S. Kellis, Copper Canyon, Cactus and Ironwood high schools already had dedicated SROs.
City staff allocated nearly $35 million for water services to improve the existing plants and construct new plants, as well as nearly $9 million for improvements to the Cholla Water Treatment Plant and nearly $7 million to improve the Pyramid Peak plant.
While councilmembers approved the budget unanimously, questions were still raised and concerns were issued.
“Prudent financial decisions coupled with conservative forecasting methods have successfully strengthened the city’s financial position,” Budget and Finance Director Vicki Rios said. “The city is poised to meet the service level requirements of our citizens and customers, while striving to provide more efficient and effective services using a strategic management framework.”
Councilmembers were also quick to point to improved communication when budget talks begin for next year.
“I ask that staff meet with councilmembers prior to the beginning of the next budget cycle to get an understanding of what our priorities are, so that when the manager’s budget comes forward, it includes those priorities so that we don’t have this unnecessary conflict between what we want to accomplish and what the manager’s proposed,” Barrel District Councilmember Bart Turner said.

The Glendale Star

The Glendale Star
7122 N. 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013
Terms of Service

Email Us

Facebook

Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

Terms of Service

Email Us

Facebook

Please Login for Premium Content