It has been 18 years and 110 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
The Glendale city council workshop of April 5, 2016 had 3 major issues up for discussion and direction by city council: the temporary West Branch Library; the pavement management program; and an introduction to the proposed new city owned arena manager.
Since I brought up parking for Heroes Park in my blog of April 5, 2016 entitled Glendale…fix the parking problem you created, it was definitely a topic of discussion. Erik Strunk, Director of Parks and Libraries, stated that they are working on temporary parking. He did not address the issue of Park Rangers sending people to park in adjacent neighborhoods or the safety issue of people crossing Bethany Home Road or 83rd Avenue to get to the park.
The final direction of the city council was to move forward with a temporary, 7500 square foot modular building. This action, of course, removes all impetus to ever build a permanent library structure. So, we in west Glendale, once again, get less — a 7500 SF modular structure half the size of Velma Teague Library in downtown Glendale.
The second item for discussion and direction was the city’s pavement management program. Currently the city spends $10 million annually to repair and maintain the city’s streets. Staff requested an additional $5 million a year. Ms. Vicki Rios, Interim Finance Director, presented a series of slides during the discussion. I bring two of those slides to your attention. This first one shows the city’s current debt service. The red, dotted line is the city’s secondary property tax revenue that is used to pay this form of debt. Please note that as of this year’s (FY 16-17) budget there is new debt capacity available…perhaps to build the west branch library? The new debt capacity is the difference between the red, dotted line and the sold green block depicting debt payments.
Not so fast. Look at this second slide. It depicts current debt plus new, proposed debt.
Note the Series 2016 debt depicted by the brownish square in the legend. That Series 16 debt is the $32 million the city is issuing next week to pay for the land and to construct parking on it to satisfy the city’s obligation to provide adequate parking for Cardinals’ football games. The orange, olive and blue areas above the brownish parking debt represent $5 million dollars a year in new debt for the pavement management plan. Note the red, dotted line which are funds used to pay the debt. Now there is no debt capacity available until Fiscal Year 21-22. With council’s approval of two items: the issuance of $32 million in debt for Cardinals’ parking and the $5million a year ($15 million total) for the pavement management plan there is no debt capacity to do anything else including building a permanent west branch library. The significance of these decisions is that there will be no debt capacity to build a west branch library for SIX more years until Fiscal Year 21-22. We will have waited for the west branch library for 25 years. There is no word to describe this situation other than disgraceful.
The last item was a public introduction of AEG as the proposed new manager of the city owned Gila River Arena. There was no mention of the Coyotes who continue to declare that they will move to some magical, undefined new facility somewhere else in the Valley. The reality is that AEG, as arena manager, the Coyotes and the city will have to come to terms in the meantime. I continue to believe if the Coyotes and AEG can come to agreement for a few years, why not long-term?
Under council requests for future workshops only one councilmember spoke, Sammy Chavira. He requested that the city present its travel policy and compare it to other Valley cities. What was more interesting is that Sammy, largely invisible these days, was cornered by an Arizona Republic reporter and questioned about his trips. Sammy’s only response was, “I want to stick to the policy to find out from now on – so next time, if you look at your policy, if you see anything, that you know that’s what we’re adhering to. What I want to do is I want to put something in concrete.” Say what? What did he say? Here is the link to the full story in the Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/04/06/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-requests-review-travel-policy-after-council-trip/82631826/ .
I can see it now. Sammy’s defense is that he followed city policy. OK, so now it’s the city’s fault? Where is Sammy’s ethical and moral compass? In essence he is admitting that he took advantage of a policy. It’s the same as if there were a policy that said, thou shall not steal. Since the policy is so vague an argument could be there is no definition of the word “steal.” Sammy is playing word games but they won’t work this time. He is accountable for his actions. He should voluntarily reimburse the city for the nearly $25,000 he spent for trips to see the Pope, his buddy sworn into Congress, his excessive baggage claims and rebooked flights, and his two highly suspicious trips to California. Don’t hold your breath on this one.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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