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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

There are Yucca district residents circulating petitions in opposition to the Stonehaven residential plan that will be heard before the Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 6 PM at City Hall in the Council chambers. I have been asked to provide information about the proposal:

2016 city council approved Stonehaven plan. Now add applicant’s request for another 300 homes.

  • The applicants, John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes have submitted GPA 17-01 and ZON 17-01. It will be heard by the citizen Planning & Zoning Commission on May 18, 2017.
  • The land is about 365 acres located between Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road and from 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. The land is currently being farmed.
  • There is a plan for this land that was already approved by Glendale’s City Council in 2016. The density of that plan is 1,100 homes on lots ranging in size from 5,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet. The applicant is requesting more density (more homes) on smaller lot sizes.
  • Their application asks for an increase (more density) in the number of homes from an approved 1,100 to 1,406 homes.
  • Their request asks to reduce lot sizes from a minimum of 5,000 SF to 4,000/4,500 SF and to reduce the largest lot sizes of 8,000 SF to 7,000 SF.
  • If approved 45% (nearly half) of the project would be on the minimum lot sizes described above (4,000 SF and 4,500 SF).
  • The applicant proposes to develop an 8 acre park within the subdivision. This equals .02% of the total 365 acres. No additional open space has been identified by the applicant.
  • Typically a developer will provide 10% to 15% of a planned subdivision for parks and open space. This applicant has not done so. For this project parks and open space should be a minimum of 36 acres (that is 10% of 365 acres).
  • It is estimated that the construction of Bethany Home Road would not have to be completed until 2021 per an agreement between the John F. Long Trust and the City of Glendale or…until 200 homes are sold and the design for Bethany must be submitted and when 475 homes are sold, construction of Bethany must begin (per the agreement).
  • Until Bethany Home Road is completed additional traffic pressure from this new subdivision will increase traffic on 83rd Avenue, Camelback Road and 91st Avenue.  
  • With new residents and no Bethany Home Road, we can expect average daily traffic loads of an estimated 54,000 vehicles on Camelback Road; 28,000 vehicles on 91st Avenue; and 33,000 vehicles on 83rd Avenue (statistics provided by applicant).
  • If this proposed subdivision is approved the Pendergast Elementary School District will experience the addition of an estimated 759 (conservative estimate) new K-8 students with a need for 25 new classrooms (at 30 students per classroom).
  • The two closest elementary schools that will experience the pressure of 759 new students are Desert Mirage at 8600 W. Maryland and Sunset Ridge at 8500 W. Missouri.
  • Typically a residential developer will donate $1000 per home to the affected school district virtually assuring that the required approval assuring no detrimental impact from the school district will be granted.

© Joyce Clark, 2017      

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Yucca district meeting went live. I have seen various online live videos on Facebook from time to time. A FB friend suggested that I use it to promo my district meeting last night, April 20, 2017. I decided why just use it for a promo? Why not try to bring the entire meeting online? It was our first try and sometimes the audio is not loud enough and we never thought to bring some kind of stand to place the IPad upon for steadiness. So there is some wobbling. And then I ran out of memory…I have no clue as to why. So we will work on those issues and when I have my next district meeting this Fall we will try it again. If you would like to take a look at my first try, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/joyce.clark.338/videos/1469350713087843/ .

Coyotes bill seems DOA. The Arizona state legislature’s adjournment is fast approaching. The tentative date was scheduled for April 22nd. Arizona senate bill, SB 1149, is for all intents and purposes dead. It would have created a special taxing district to enable the Coyotes to build a new arena…anywhere but Glendale. Governor Ducey has already signaled that even if the legislation is rolled into another bill, he will not sign. His reason? He said he would not approve taxpayers supporting the cost of yet another arena in the state. It is my hope that with Anthony LeBlanc gone (he has not made any public statement for the Coyotes in over a month and there have been rumors circulating that another investor has joined the ownership group) cooler heads within the Coyotes’ ownership will prevail and there will be a reconsideration of negotiating a long-term lease with AEG, manger of the city-owned Gila River Arena.

Glendale’s bond rating increases. You might be wondering why city officials are giddy over bond rating increases delivered this week by Moody’s and recently by Standard & Poor. Why the big deal? When a city’s rating is poor, it costs the city more money to borrow because the interest rate is high. When a city’s bond rating goes up, it costs the city less to borrow money as the interest rate drops. With the upgrade in bond rating, the city will be able to refinance a majority of its outstanding debt at a lower interest rate, saving the city (you, the taxpayers) money. It also increases the city’s capacity to issue debt and makes it more likely that the city will be able to begin new Capital Improvement Projects. These projects can focus in on amenity projects, like parks and libraries, that benefit the quality of life of all of Glendale’s residents.

Volunteers appreciated. On Saturday, April 15, 2017 the city held a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the Adult Center to recognize and thank the hundreds of volunteers giving thousands of hours throughout our city’s government. Mayor Weiers presented a proclamation of appreciation. Accepting on behalf of all volunteers was Bobbie Garland. I have known Bobbie for over 20 years. I have seen first- hand her willingness to give of her time. There could not have been a more fitting recipient selected. Kudos to Bobbie and all those who have followed in her foot steps.

A new name for AZSTA’s football stadium. It was announced this week that the University of Phoenix is terminating its naming rights for the stadium located in the Westgate area of Glendale. Frankly, I suspect that this action brings joy to every Glendale resident. Calling it the University of Phoenix Stadium was an anathema to many. It also created a great deal of confusion as to its location. Was it in Glendale or Phoenix? We are confident that AZSTA and the Cardinals will choose its new naming partner carefully and hopefully with no reference to Phoenix.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Tonight, April 20, 2017 residents of the Yucca district will have an opportunity to meet Glendale’s City Manager, Kevin Phelps and Glendale’s Police Chief, Richard St. John.

There will also be a presentation of concept designs prepared by the Dick & Fritche Design Group for the West Branch Library to be located at Heroes Park, 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Residents will have an opportunity to comment on the conceptual designs.

As is my usual agenda, the final half hour will be an Open Forum providing residents an opportunity to comment on issues and concerns.

There will be a drawing at the end of the evening for 2 free tickets to the Zac Brown Band concert, May 4th, at the Gila River Arena. Must be 18 years of age and a Yucca district resident to be eligible.

Light Refreshments will be served. All are welcome. It doesn’t matter where you live in Glendale for it’s an opportunity to learn about Glendale’s issues.

© Joyce Clark, 2017              

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

When my blog site was reconstituted after being down for two weeks four recent blogs disappeared. This is a reposting of one of the four “lost” blogs.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On March 28, 2017 Jessica Boehm and Jackee Coe presented extensive reporting in the Arizona Republic on campaign contributions from the firefighter unions. Here is the link:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2017/03/28/arizona-candidates-who-received-campaign-contributions-from-firefighters/99716980/ .

It is a very thorough look at the issue but there was one area that was neglected and that was fire unions’ Independent Expenditures (IE) in the election process. A case in point was the recent Glendale election in the Yucca district between the incumbent who lost, Sammy Chavira, and me.

What’s an Independent Expenditure? As its name implies, it is an independent (of the candidate) political committee formed for the express purposed of supporting or opposing a candidate(s) or an issue. It is against the law for an Independent Expenditure committee to coordinate their efforts with those of the candidate. There is not supposed to be any communication between the two committees. However, this does not prevent a third party acting as a go between. That is difficult to prove legally.

These committees are required to register with the clerk of the jurisdiction in which they will be active. Sometimes they do. When they register at the state level it is often very difficult to obtain specific information about whom or what the committee is advocating for or against or how much they spent. It is much easier to obtain that kind of information at the city or local level.

Unfortunately, by law recently enacted by the state, all political committee reports must now be filed with the state. The reporting forms have been completely redone making it much more difficult to obtain information about who is doing what, for whom and for how much.

An Independent Committee could have an innocuous name such as Revitalize Arizona or Residents for Accountability. Some of the Independent Committees who participated in Glendale’s last election cycle were created by the fire unions. Their only purpose was to issue political material in support of their candidate and to oppose the contender. Often an Independent Committee doesn’t just do political mailings. They will create political signs and put them up as well. A good example is a political sign that accused me of “breaking the bank.” The signs were created by and funded by an Independent Expenditure committee expressly created by fire union members from a neighboring community.

My opponent in the last election raised over $81,000 with $19,000 (about ¼ of his total funding) contributed by fire unions as far away as Los Angeles, California. In addition, there were several Independent Expenditure committees, fire union affiliated, that spent in excess of $30,000 in political mailings in opposition to my candidacy and in support of my opponent. My opponent’s campaign committee mailed out at least 8 pieces and the Independent Committees mailed out another 6 pieces in addition to paying for campaign signs also opposed to my candidacy. My opponent even violated federal U.S. Postal law and placed postcards in support of his candidacy, unmailed with no postage, in residents’ mailboxes.

It appears safe to assume that between my opponent’s campaign committee and the Independent Expenditure committees, over $100,000 was spent to try to defeat me.

I raised a little over $13,000 for my campaign. Nearly every dime I received came from my district residents or Glendale residents in other districts. A few months after I won my bid for reelection, I received a check for $1,000 from a local fire union. I considered it a “concession” check, an acknowledgement that I had defeated a fire union candidate once again. I accepted the money and retired my campaign debt enabling me to terminate my political committee.

I sent out 2 mailings and shared expenses with Mayor Weiers’ political committee on another 3 mailings for a total of 5 mailings. The rest of the money I raised went for campaign signage.

My margin of victory was small – 46 votes – but I’ll take it. A win is a win, no matter the margin of victory. But why did I win when I was outspent over 7 times to 1? Several factors seemed to have led to his defeat. Perhaps the most important was his record of lack of service to our district residents. He failed to return constituent phone calls; his residents felt that he did not contribute their voice to city council discussions and debates; his lack of communication in terms of district meetings, having held only one in four years; and perhaps most importantly, the general public’s perception that he had abused taxpayers’ dollars for questionable travel.

Another factor may also have contributed not just to my opponent’s loss but to the loss of former Fire Chief Mark Burdick as a mayoral candidate in Glendale. The fire unions’ aggressiveness in local elections has caused a lack of trust in their institution. Traditionally, fire fighters are held in great esteem within their community. With the increase in the public’s use of social media the general public is more aware of the concerted effort by fire unions to get their preferred candidates elected. Their intrusiveness in the local elections process is more visible than ever before. The tried and true tactics used by these unions is also more visible to the public. For the first time in all of my election cycles I had people who called me to tell me about infractions they had seen committed by the fire unions. The aggressiveness demonstrated by the fire unions during campaigns is beginning to elicit public concern about their tactics and their motives. There is an increased awareness that a fire union’s agenda in terms of ever increasing salaries, benefits and pensions may not be in the taxpayers’ interest.

This is a new phenomenon and whether it is a harbinger of things to come in future election processes is yet to be seen but it may be that the bloom on the fire union rose is fading…

© Joyce Clark, 2017              

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

When my blog site was reconstituted after being down for two weeks four recent blogs disappeared. This is a reposting of one of the four “lost” blogs.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In my last blog I said that I would tackle General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds and Development Impact Fees (DIF). Both are complicated issues and I will do my best to explain their origin, purpose and use.

General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds. These and many other funding mechanisms cities use were created by and are still regulated by the state of Arizona.

The city uses G.O. bonds to fund many large scale capital projects, in other words, it is a major component of its Capital Improvement Plan. Every city must pay the principal and interest on these bonds through its secondary property tax.

However, the state constitution specifically limits the amount a city can borrow for G.O. bonds to 6% or 20% of a city’s total assessed valuation. In Glendale 6% bonds may be issued for economic development, cultural facilities, government facilities and libraries. However, the state constitution allows one exception, granting cities the ability to issue 20% bonds in these specific areas: flood control, open space/trails, public safety and streets/parking. Generally, these are extraordinarily big ticket items. Hence the exception.

Glendale’s total assessed valuation as of June 30, 2016 was $1,174,931,000. Multiply this figure by 6% and we have a figure of $70, 496,000. That $70 million figure is the total allowable capacity in Glendale for 6% debt.  In other words, if Glendale had the ability through the collection of secondary property tax to cover the principal and interest on just the category of 6% debt, it could do so. Now multiply $1,174,931,000 by 20% and we have a figure of $234,986,000 as the maximum allowable in the 20% bond debt category.

OK, we have a maximum 6% debt capacity of $70+ million and a maximum 20% debt capacity of $234+ million. Then why doesn’t the city just issue bonds in these amounts and be done with it?

Because there are two other factors that govern how much debt a city can take on. One is the city’s ability to repay annual debt. State statute mandates the city must pay the principal and interest on G.O. bonds from the secondary property tax it collects. It is prudent for a city to be conservative and try to figure out how much it can pay on debt not just in good economic times but when the economy takes a nose dive as it did for 5 years during the Great Recession.

The other factor is based upon you, the voter. Just because a city has debt capacity that doesn’t mean it can use it. Every city must go to the voters in a bond authorization election and ask for your permission to issue debt in each category for a capped amount of money. The most recent city-wide bond elections were held in 1981, 1987, 1999, and 2007. I won’t go through the whole list and how much bond authorization was approved in each category in each of the listed bond elections. In the last election in 2007 voters approved the issuance of bonds for flood control for a cap of $20 million+); Parks and recreation for a cap of $16 million +; Public safety for a cap of $102 million +; and Streets and Parking for a cap of $79 million+.

Both of these factors determine how much debt a city could take on in a given year. Even if you, the voter, have approved a maximum amount of debt in a certain category, such as flood control, the city must then look at how much debt it can comfortably afford to repay in good years and in bad years.

Another component of the CIP is Development Impact Fees (DIF). For many, many years Arizona lived by the imperative that “growth pays for growth.” It meant that developers had to pay X amount per house and it went into a city’s DIF. It allowed Glendale and every other Arizona city to use DIF to fund new parks, libraries, streets, police, fire, sanitation, water and sewer. It was a good funding mechanism for cities. As new residential subdivisions came on board cities would get DIF funds from the developer that was used, for example, to expand or build a new park. Need a new fire station because of several new subdivisions? DIF was used to offset the cost.

But the developers were not a happy lot.  For you see, DIF was added by them to the price of each new home. They complained that DIF was making their homes cost too much. They lobbied the state legislature and in 2011, SB 1525 was passed. Under this legislation some categories eligible for DIF were eliminated. Others were severely restricted and the formulas for the amount of DIF that could be collected were reduced to make them almost meaningless. This bill restricted every city’s ability to collect a reasonable DIF that followed the mandate of “growth paying for growth.” The state legislature at the behest of the development industry’s lobbyists literally passed on the cost of growth to the cities. And why would legislators do so? It’s understandable.  Many members of the development community contribute serious money to their campaigns.

 Suddenly cities found that in many cases, they simply did not have enough money to pay for infrastructure needed because of new growth in their communities.  If I were to make an educated guess I would estimate that Glendale has lost somewhere between $5 and $10 million dollars in DIF annually. Oh by the way, did developers drop the price of their new homes because DIF was suddenly reduced considerably by their buddies down at the state legislature? The answer is ‘no’… but their profit margins did increase.

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

When my blog site was reconstituted after being down for two weeks four recent blogs disappeared. This is a reposting of one of the four “lost” blogs.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017 the city council had its first substantive discussion of the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget. It centered on its proposed Capital Improvement Program or CIP. What exactly is the CIP? Quite simply it allows the city to build things that include but are not limited to:

  • fire and police stations
  • libraries, court buildings and office buildings
  • parks, trails, open space, pools, recreation centers
  • water and wastewater treatments plants and their related infrastructure
  • roads, bridges, traffic control devices
  • landscape beautification projects
  • flood control projects
  • computer software and hardware systems other than personal computers and printers
  • major equipment purchases such as landfill compactors, street sweepers and sanitation trucks

There is specific council approved policy that dictates the determination of priorities within the CIP:  “City Council’s strategic goals and financial policies provide the broad parameters for development of the annual capital plan. For example, Council’s financial policies on Capital Asset and Debt Management state that the 10-year capital plan will address capital needs in the following order:

  • Improve existing assets
  • Replace existing assets
  • Construct new assets”

Additional considerations include but are not limited to the following:

  • “Does a project support the city’s goal of ensuring all geographic areas of the city have comparable quality in the types of service that are defined in the Public Facilities section of the General Plan?
  • Does the project prevent the deterioration of the city’s existing infrastructure
  • Does a project encourage and sustain quality economic development?” (From the city’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan budget, Fiscal Year 2017-18)

You get the idea. Things that are physical…things you can touch and see. I do have concerns with the last two items on the above listing of CIP examples – computer software and heavy equipment.

I went back through my stack of old budget books and the first time I could find the addition of computer software and hardware as part of any CIP was in my FY 2008-09 budget book…a mere 8 years ago.  Quite frankly, it was quietly added without any discussion at the time and I don’t remember me or any other councilmember back then questioning or even noticing its addition to the CIP. The same scenario occurred with the line item of major equipment purchases. It suddenly appeared in the CIP.

The city already has a Vehicle Replacement Fund (VRF) and a Technology Replacement Fund (TRF). This is where those two line items belong not in the CIP. If these funds need more money in them to cover these major expenses, then it’s time to allocate more revenue in each of these funds.

It causes me some concern because these big ticket items (major computer software and heavy equipment) could and often do compete for bond funding against the projects our citizens want and expect, such as libraries, recreation centers, adult centers, parks and pools. You know, the projects that maintain and upgrade our quality of life as residents of Glendale and make Glendale more attractive for economic development.

The total proposed funding for projects in the CIP for the upcoming fiscal year is $88,819,541. However, most of this money, $67,610,773 comes from Enterprise funding (water, sewer, sanitation and landfill) in addition to other, dedicated Transportation  funding, HURF (Highway User Revenue Funds) and a variety of grant funds.

The other monies to be used within the CIP are Bond Construction Funds made up of 6% or 20% General Obligation (GO) bonds ($14,994,708) and Dedicated Impact Fees (DIF) funds ($6,214,060).

I don’t want to get into the weeds on 6% or 20% GO bonds or DIF in this blog. My next one will explain those items in more detail. For now is the take-away that the proposed CIP totals $88 million plus.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 city council met in workshop session. There were 3 agenda items: information on the city’s purchase of a new city-wide software program; my Council Item of Special Interest requesting the formation of a temporary council subcommittee on business; and Councilmember Aldama’s  request to move forward with the creation of a citizen Diversity and Human Relations Commission.

PeopleSoft vs. Munis City-Wide Software Systems. City staff provided information on a proposed software system called Munis. Currently the city uses a software system called PeopleSoft for its Finance, Human Resources and Payroll functions. Staff represented that PeopleSoft is inefficient for their needs and estimated the number of hours currently used to support PeopleSoft as 19,562 and the estimated annual cost of that support is $703,475.

I do accept that the Finance functions under PeopleSoft are no longer sufficient to meet our needs but I have not been convinced that the city should abandon PeopleSoft’s functionality for its Human Resources/Payroll needs. 

In 2015 PeopleSoft’s HR and payroll modules were updated at a cost of $1.2 million. These software modules will receive PeopleSoft support until 2017. There does not appear to be any urgency to replace these modules after the city just spent $1.2 million to upgrade them. Yet the proposed city-wide software system contains the option to replace these modules.

A year later, in 2016, staff requested approval to hire a firm, Berry & Dunn, to search for, review and recommend a new city-wide software system. I don’t believe staff explained this request adequately to city council and that city council approved this request without realizing that they had taken the first step in a procurement process. The result is the current proposal to replace the entire city software system at a cost of $6 million over a two year period. Why replace the HR/Payroll modules when the city spent $1.2 million to upgrade them less than 2 years ago? Finance did make a strong case for the replacement of its PeopleSoft modules and I can support their request but I believe we can wait to replace the HR/Payroll modules at a later date.

The areas of my concern about which there were no satisfactory answers provided at the workshop are: 1. What are the cost savings and level of productivity to be gained by switching to this new system? and 2. What is the final, estimated cost of purchasing, supporting and implementing this new system? Staff indicated that answer would be available to council and the public on May 28th. By then the proposed budget is set and council moves into June having to approve the proposed budget. That is not satisfactory to me. It leaves no time to question or to adjust the proposed budget to reflect council’s final direction.

Temporary city council subcommittee on business. I introduced this item several months ago as a “Council Item of Special Interest.” It requests the creation of a temporary city council subcommittee comprised of city council members and representatives from Glendale’s business community. Its purpose is to make Glendale even more business friendly while enhancing Glendale’s reputation for supporting job attraction, creation and retention. This committee would review all of Glendale’s business-related codes, ordinances, regulations and policies for the purpose of removing out-dated, redundant, no longer relevant business imperatives. The committee’s conclusions and recommendations are advisory and would be presented to the full council for acceptance or rejection, in whole or part.

I am grateful to city council for offering their suggestions to make the concept even better and for their support in moving this initiative forward. I am excited that there will be an opportunity to take Glendale toward a 21st Century future by aligning its laws, regulations and policies to enhance our business community.

Diversity and Human Relations Commission. This item was originally initiated as a “Council Item of Special Interest” by former Councilmember Gary Sherwood. That’s how long this item has been floating around…at least 2 years. Sherwood was recalled and replaced by the current Councilmember Ray Malnar representing the Sahuaro district. Councilmember Aldama took up the issue after Sherwood left. Councilmember Malnar introduced an alternative Human Relations Commission proposal to Councilmember Aldama’s Diversity and Human Relations Commission. The proposals were virtually the same with the exception of Section 2-313 – Powers and duties (a).

Here is Councilmember Aldama’s version:

“The commission shall advise the mayor and council regarding issues, regulations or policies affecting diverse members of the Glendale community including, but not limited to, those related to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic characteristics, medical condition, familial or parental status, U.S. Military veteran status, mental development, behavior, illness, or disorder or disability, physical appearance, limitation or disability, education level, socio-economic condition or any other individual or distinct characteristic.”

Here is Councilmember Malnar’s version:

“The Glendale Human Relations Commission will act as an advisory body to the mayor and council by making recommendations on way to encourage mutual respect and understanding among all people, to discourage prejudice and discrimination, and to support cultural awareness and unity of the community in all its diverse forms. The commission may also make recommendations for special events.”

I preferred Councilmember Malnar’s version, as did Vice Mayor Hugh and Councilmember Tolmachoff. Consensus was given to move forward with the Malnar version to be agendized for a future city council voting meeting. My reason for support of the Malnar version is that the country’s current preoccupation with diversity has led to increased tensions and divisiveness among disparate communities. That is an atmosphere I prefer not to bring to Glendale. Rather Councilmember Malnar’s version emphasizes the very values we, as a nation, have seemed to have forgotten, that of mutual respect and understanding, the discouragement of prejudice and discrimination and support of unity within our community.

The next city council meeting will occur on Monday, April 24th at 9 AM. It will give the city council an opportunity to focus on individual department budgets and to pose questions about them. It will be followed by another budget workshop on Friday, April 28th and will be a continuation of departmental budget review by city council. You can watch these workshops online at the city website under the City’s Cable Channel 11 or if you are a Cox subscriber you can watch the workshops on TV Channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

When my blog site was reconstituted after being down for two weeks four recent blogs disappeared. This is a reposting of one of the four “lost” blogs.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

For the next 6 weeks or so, the city council will be focused on Glendale’s budget. There will be a series of workshops devoted to it. The first one was held on March 7, 2017 and reviewed revenue projections, sources of the city’s revenues and the areas in which those revenues are spent. Keep in mind, per state law, Glendale and every other municipality must adopt a balanced annual budget. What does that mean?  That means the total of the city’s expenses must be shown to be covered by the revenues it receives.

There are 2 parts to the city’s budget: its General Fund budget and the Enterprise Funds’ budgets. The General Fund budget covers all expenses incurred by the city except for: Water, Sewer, Sanitation and Landfill. These 4 areas are called Enterprise Funds and they get their revenues from rate payers or users.

The pot of money for the General Fund has 2 components: all revenues and a fund balance (a rainy day fund). The money is paid out to 5 areas: expenditures, operating costs, the Capital Improvement Plan, our debt payments and a contingency fund. Except for debt payments which are a fixed cost, the other 4 areas compete against one another for the available money.

Where does the city get its money? From 5 sources:                                                                        

  • Sales tax                      44%                   
  • State shared revenue    26%                  
  • Other                           17%                  
  • Transfers In                  11%
  • Property Tax                   2%

There is one special note about the sales tax the city collects and that is, it no longer manages or collects it. A year or two ago, the state legislature, in its wisdom, mandated that it would collect every city’s sales tax and distribute those funds collected to each city. Now Glendale has to pay the state nearly half a million dollars to collect its sales tax…a new expense that Glendale never had before. To add insult to injury, this program rolled out completely in January of this year, 2017. To date, the state has only collected and dispersed approximately 66% of the money Glendale itself usually collected. I contend that in addition to our regular budget planning for next year, the city should be planning an alternate budget in case the worst happens and it does not receive all of the sales tax from the state to which it is entitled. 

There’s also another gimmick the state uses and that is with regard to state shared revenue. The largest component is state shared income tax. Every year we pay income tax to the state but cities do not get their share the following year. Instead the cities are paid two years later. That means the income tax you pay this year for 2016 won’t be seen by the cities until 2018. Think of the interest the state makes on millions and millions of dollars in income tax for that extra year until they disperse the money to the cities. 

There are no certain figures for expenses within the General Fund budget for this year as we are in the process of crafting this year’s budget. In last year’s Fiscal 2016-17 General Fund budget, here were the areas of expense:

  • Police department                   43%
  • Fire department                      22%
  • Other                                     16%
  • Non-departmental                     9%
  • Public Facilities, Rec & Events     6%
  • Public Works                             4%

Note that 65% of the city’s money goes to pay for Police and Fire. When you see the city’s total budget of approximately $500 million remember that only a portion of that is the General Fund Budget (should be an estimated $200 million).  The remainder (an estimated $300 million) is either Enterprise Funds or other special funds, such as the dedicated public safety sales tax or the transportation sales tax and as dedicated funds, cannot be used for any other purpose, such as the General Fund.

Out of a General Fund budget of approx. $200 million, 65% or approx. $130 million is for Public Safety (Police and Fire). That leaves about $70 million in the General Fund to pay for operating expenses (examples: all other employees’ salaries and benefits; our debt payments and our Capital Improvement Plan). Over half of the remaining $70 million (approx. $45 million a year) goes to pay the city’s debt service. That leaves us with an annual General Fund budget of $25 million a year.

As you can see, the city’s annual budget and the processes to create it are pretty complicated. It’s all in the numbers and a basic understanding of what numbers go where.

In Part 2 of Glendale’s budget 101 we will look at the proposed Capital Improvement Program or CIP. This is the budget portion that will be discussed by city council on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at its 9 AM workshop. This will be televised live on Cox’s cable channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

At the city council meeting of April 11, 2017 there were two residential projects approved by the council. I voted against both of them. Since I was a minority of one I did not explain my vote only because I considered it an exercise in futility.

Alice Park Plat Map

One approved residential project is called Alice Park (FP 16-02) located at 8348 N. 61st Avenue. It consists of 37.9 acres. The applicant proposed 187 lots 45 feet wide by 115 feet deep. The typical lot size is 5,175 square feet. The density of the project is nearly 5 homes per acre (4.9 DU/AC).  The only element of this residential project that should be applauded is a dedication of 5.6 acres of open space. That’s about 14% of the entire acreage. Typically, developers will dedicate 10% to 15% for open space. Another plus of this project is that the developer could have retained the R-2 zoning designation and instead rezoned this land to R 1-4 resulting in a decrease in the density of the project. 

 

 

The other residential project approved by council is Deer Valley Villas (FP 16-04) located at 18800 N. 51st Avenue. This is a very small project of only 4.2 acres with 18 homes approved.

Deer Valley Villas Plat Map

The typical lot size is 5,250 square feet with a density of about 4 homes to the acre (4.3 DU/AC). This developer is dedicating 20% of the land for open space rather than the typical 10% to 15%.

Why oppose either project? The answer lies in how does either one of these residential projects upgrade Glendale? It is generally accepted that the size of the lots helps to dictate the price of the homes. These projects can be considered as “starter home” developments with assumed price points in the $179,000 to $200,000 range. Glendale has an abundance of “starter home” neighborhoods. Where are the high median and high end developments that contribute to enhancing Glendale’s reputation as a desirable community in which to live, play and work?

It’s no wonder Glendale’s median household income is one of the lowest among all Valley cities. It’s no wonder Glendale has the highest poverty rate  among all Valley cities. We keep accepting residential projects that do nothing to turn these numbers around.

These kinds of residential projects do not raise Glendale’s statistics in terms of median income and the poverty rate. These are projects where people move up and out as soon as they are able to do so. As these homes age, they tend to turn into a sea of rentals. Rental properties do not enhance the stability of any community. Those who rent typically do not invest their time, talent and interest in a community.

Every piece of land, especially infill parcels, where these two projects will be located, is precious to our community. At the very least, these two residential projects should have been required to be R1-6 (standard 6,000 SF lots).

It’s no longer acceptable, in my view, to accept residential projects that do nothing to enhance the demographic profile of any area of the city. If the city continues to accept infill that is comparable to the lowest common denominator of standards for an area, it does nothing to make that area a more desirable location in which people will want to locate.

It doesn’t say much about how we value ourselves and our community if we are continually willing to settle just because whatever is proposed eliminates another vacant parcel.

Glendale can do better…

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Whew, It’s been a rough two weeks (since April 5th) with my blog site being down. My thanks to all of you who have patiently waited for its resurrection. I did lose some posts that occurred between March 11, 2017 and today. Thanks to the Word Press team and especially my genious grandson (majoring in IT) for solving the Gordion Knot of computer software enabling me to post once again. I know I will be throwing some money in my Grandson’s direction for saving my site.

What’s been happening in the meantime? On Tuesday, April 4, 2017 city council had another Budget Workshop meeting. Mostly it reaffirmed suggestions made by council at the previous budget workshop. One of my “asks” at the previous workshop was to consider moving up the proposal to transition the city’s street light system city-wide to LED lighting. This project would result in cost savings to the city of a half million dollars a year that could be redirected to providing greater dollar capacity to repair and maintain even more city streets annually. Council was presented further information and approved moving the project forward in the coming Fiscal Year rather than waiting until Fiscal Year 2023.

I was also successful in getting Heroes Park and O’Neal Pool back into the Capital Improvement Program. This is but a first step. If these items are not even listed in the CIP, it is impossible to secure funding for them.

Previously I had asked for consideration of returning funding to an upgrade of Pasadena Park that was pulled in favor of a new project, construction of a bike path at Foothills Park. I pointed out that council identified priorities were to maintain and improve existing assets before creating new projects. At that time Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff seemed to agree with that premise and was amenable to removing the new bike path project. On the April 4th budget meeting she seems to have reversed her position and now is reluctant to give up this new project. As many residents down our way are fond of saying quite often to me, “Them that has, gets more. Them that has nothing, gets nothing.”

The next several council budget workshops will deal with individual departments and their budgets. I am sure I will have questions…lots of questions. That’s one good aspect of having 16 years worth of historical memory…it helps me to identify in which areas of the city to take a good, long look.

On Friday, April 7th, I went down to the studios of Channel 3 TV for the taping of a segment for a show called Politics Unplugged. Here is a link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTAoX-SiS6Y&feature=youtu.be . The segment was about local fire unions’ influence in elections and followed on the heels of an Arizona Republic story on the same topic. Here is the link to the Arizona Republic article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2017/03/28/arizona-firefighter-unions-donated-hundreds-thousands-local-elections/99603914/ .

There are a few more events about which I would like you to be aware. One is a neighborhood public meeting to learn about a proposed residential project to be sited at the southeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Northern Avenue. It will be on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 6 PM at the Harvest Church, 8340 W. Northern Avenue. The applicant is seeking to place 50+ homes on 6,000 square foot lots…ugh.

On Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6 PM I will be hosting another Yucca district meeting at the Coyote Ridge Elementary School Cafeteria, 7677 W. Bethany Home Road. Residents will have an opportunity to meet and to hear from our new City Manager, Kevin Phelps, and our new Police Chief, Richard St. John. They will stay for the entire meeting so that residents may introduce themselves and ask questions.

After those two speakers, there will be an informal meeting of the Parks & Recreation Board and the Library Advisory Board for the purpose of hearing a presentation from the Dick & Fritche architectural firm on a proposed design concept for our West Branch Library.

Following that presentation, as is normal for my district meetings, I will open the floor for residents to comment on the proposed library or any other topic. At the end of the formal meeting, please take the time to meet our City Manager and Police Chief.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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