The Glendale City Council workshop scheduled for Tuesday, December 17, 2013 will finally force this council to declare its financial intentions for the future. It is a jam packed agenda but there are several items that are especially important to each and every citizen in Glendale. One is a presentation of Monthly Arena Reports and the other is the Five Year Financial Forecast.

The Monthly Arena Reports were a request of Councilmember Alvarez. We know her motive and that is to show how much the city is bleeding from the current management agreement. Staff will prepare and post online each monthly arena report. The December 31, 2013 report is to be public by January 31, 2014.

Unfortunately based upon the material offered at workshop the city does appear to be bleeding as a result, in part, of the latest arena management agreement. Here is what each of the monthly arena reports will include:

Revenues to the city

  • Sales tax collected inside the arena
  • Base rent ($500,000 annually)
  • Ticket surcharge for hockey events ($3 per ticket)
  • Ticket surcharge for non-hockey events ($5 per ticket)
  • Supplemental surcharge ($1 per ticket)
  • Parking revenue for hockey events ($10 per car)
  • Parking revenue for non-hockey events ($15 per car)
  • Naming rights (20% to city)
  • Naming rights for indoor stage (100% to city)
  • City sponsored events (revenues minus expenses)
  • Safety & Security Fee ($174,122 a year)
  • Hourly security costs for police
  • Hourly security costs for fire
  • Interest income placed in an escrow account

Expenses to be paid by the city

  • Arena capital improvements ($500,000 annually for now)
  • Quarterly management fee ($3,750,000 per quarter; $15M annually)

What does all of this mean? The sales tax collection, ticket surcharges and public safety revenues are not new revenues.  The only new revenues, courtesy of IceArizona, are the rent of half a million a year, naming rights and parking revenue. IceArizona has paid $219,702 to date of its annual rent. There is no new contract on naming rights as the current contract has not yet expired. As for parking revenue we will not see the first revenue number until January 31, 2014. It will be an interesting number for IceArizona keeps the first $20,000 (that’s 2,000 cars at $10 each) per game in parking revenue. Tom Duensing, Executive Director of Financial Services, in a recent article forecast( that the Coyotes deal will cost the city an estimated $8.1 million next year, after the city receives its revenue associated with the deal. That’s one Christmas present denied.

The second major agenda item, the Five Year Forecast, is even worse. What it boils down to is that Glendale is spending more than it takes in. The annual amount that the city is short in revenue averages $14M a year until 2017 when the temporary sales tax increase disappears. Then the average deficit balloons to $30M a year. Do you smell the temporary sales tax increase becoming permanent? If it occurs it is a major promise broken and will have consequences the next time the city asks Glendale voters to approve anything.

While operating expenses continue not to be controlled as effectively as they could be there are other obligations that put in the city in trouble. The city’s debt service (of about $30M a year) is 17% of its operating budget. It is way too high and according to Moody’s it should be in the 10% to 12% range. Add the city’s contractual obligations (of about $25M a year) at 13% of its operating budget. Fully 30% of the city’s operating budget is used to pay debt service and contractual obligations. Add to that figure, personnel costs of over 50%. There isn’t enough money to cover all of this. No Christmas present here either.

Also of note is the projected expense for the Super Bowl of $1.7 million dollars with expected revenue of $200,000. It appears that this expense is greatly underestimated. In 2008 the city’s expenses were over $2 million dollars with a loss of about $1 million dollars. In 7 years every expense has gone up, not down and the expectation was, until now, that it could easily cost the city $4 million to host. The city has only factored in the $1.7 million it must pay to the Host Committee. It has not accounted for any additional costs including staff time.

Staff will be asking council to provide direction for the upcoming FY 14-15 council budget workshops. Their choices are: fix the deficit for the coming fiscal year or fix the deficit long term. If they wish to send a strong, positive signal they will embrace a long term fix. If they are still in hopeful mode they will choose to solve the ongoing problem short term and like chicken little, put it off as long as possible. Which way will they go?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to : 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.