The Glendale city council meeting of June 24, 2014 was long due to the large number of agenda items – over 50. This was the last council meeting before the start of a new fiscal year on July 1, 2014. Much of the agenda was consent, meaning lots of items are bundled together and passed in one motion. It was the last opportunity for staff to make expenditures before the close of the current fiscal year. City council typically vacates for a month in either July or August. This year council will vacate the month of July and will reconvene on August 5, 2014.
Much of the agenda sought council ratification or approval for expenditures such as new trucks, contracts for new services, acceptance of intergovernmental agreements and grant funds. Council accepted two grants from the Tohono O’odham (TO). The first grant is in the amount of $77,745 for the Glendale Youth Project. The second grant is for $36,824 for the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute. These two grants total $114,569. It now appears, a majority of council having signaled a warmer and fuzzier relationship with the TO, that a grant war has begun between the TO and the Gila Tribe/Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Tribes. Are the Tribes buying the support of various councilmembers? Yep.
Council ratified the capital repair expenditures already made for Jobing.com Arena and Camelback Ranch. Capital repair and replacement items listed for Camelback Ranch in the amount of $400,253 were warranted, usual expenditures and would normally be associated with that account. Capital repair and replacement for the arena totaled $567,461.93. A majority of the capital repair funds spent were warranted — such as the HVAC system, chiller and audio repairs. However, included in that figure Is a trailer for paid parking operations in the amount of $2,519.16; golf carts (how many – we don’t know) for paid parking operations in the amount of $36, 550; purchase of carpet for offices in the amount of $17,272; and purchase of Global Spectrums’ office furniture in the amount of $11,436,22. These purchases total $67,777.38 or about 12% of the total spent on capital repair and replacement.
These particular purchases are questionable and debatable. IceArizona, as part of the arena management agreement, charges for arena parking and gets $20,000 off the top for each night of event parking. It appears that a trailer and golf carts are part of the cost of doing the parking business and are not strictly a capital repair or replacement expense. Council candidate Randy Miller asked if this equipment was, at least, titled in the City’s name. City Manager Brenda Fischer deftly side stepped his question by alluding to IceArizona’s purchase of this equipment prior to council ratification and that the equipment may indeed be titled in IceArizona’s name. Why does this not surprise anyone? The new carpeting and office equipment would stay with the building and could be considered a capital expense. IceArizona brought Global Spectrum on board as its partner in managing the arena. It could be argued that under that circumstance it is an expense that should be borne by IceArizona.
On August 9, 2014 there will be a preseason football game at the stadium and a concert at the arena. Conflicts like this don’t happen very often. Tanger Outlet Mall consumed a great amount of land that had previously been utilized for parking and it is no longer available. When event conflicts arise between the stadium and the arena it’s going to cost the city from now on. Let’s hope this type of conflict doesn’t occur frequently. The City is paying the Arizona Cardinals for parking that night in the amount of $27,500. It is also paying Westgate City Center $10,971.77 for parking as well. The total expenditure for parking rights the city will pay for the night of August 9th comes to $38,471.77. Wow, $40,000 the city can ill afford to pay for one night’s worth of additional parking.
As usual the best and hottest topics were the last items on the agenda: removing the sunset provision from the now permanent sales tax increase; an increase in property tax; and acceptance of exemptions for permitted events from the city’s noise ordinance. I will address the property tax increase only here and now. The sales tax increase issue and noise ordinance deserve a separate blog which will follow in a day or two.
The city has a history of lowering the property tax rate when financial times are good and raising it when financial times are bad. The amount of increase for a majority of homeowners’ property tax paid to Glendale will be in the range of $5 to $10 annually. Property tax revenues have an explicit use and that is to pay the bond debt on the city’s Capital Improvement projects. Between the minimal increase and the purpose for which it is used, it is a supportable and prudent action.
Council’s last hurrah before taking their monthly break was full of sound and fury and signified a great deal, especially the sales tax increase issue. Stay tuned.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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