On the evening of April 1, 2013, the City made a public presentation of the state of its budget to the public. If you include myself and the councilmember representing our area there were a total of 5 people in attendance. That’s right. Three citizens and us. How embarrassing for the councilmember. Oh, but that’s OK. His only constituency these days is the fire fighters union.
In terms of city staff, it would be safe to say the citizens were outnumbered at least 3 to 1. There was at least 20-25 staff in attendance. Every director of every department was on hand to answer the flood of citizen questions (not), in addition to 2 of Glendale’s cable channel 11 TV crew filming the non-event. It almost begs the question as to why doesn’t the city ask the general public to RSVP? If a minimum number of citizens respond, the meeting is held. If only 2 or 3 respond, the meeting could be cancelled. After all if the public meeting had been cancelled, it would have only required calls to 3 people.
These staff members are salaried and not paid time and a half for extra duties such as attending this meeting. These salaried personnel, if they so choose, can compensate themselves for the time by coming in to work a little later or taking a longer lunch break. It is an option available to them should they choose to use it. Many of them do not and put in more than a standard 40 hour work week.
Ms. Schurhammer, Executive Director of Finances, made a 15 minute presentation on the city’s budget. She concentrated on the city’s total Operating Budget by Fund and Department and the General Fund Budget by Department. She pointed out that 34% of the city’s entire budget and 63% of the city’s General Fund budget goes to Public Safety. There was virtually a silent scream from all non-public safety staff asking how much more does Public Safety need? We’ll get to that in a minute.
Back in December, 2012, both the Fire and Police departments had their respective budgets balanced and were prepared for a vote of approval from the sitting council at that meeting. However, Vice Mayor Frate made a motion that their budgets be tabled and brought up again when a permanent City Manager was hired. The vote was 6-1 with me being the lone, dissenting vote. That action left their budget departments” doors open just a crack. Now, sensing an opportunity, they are smashing open those doors with a fire truck and tactical vehicle. They sense blood in the water and this new council (led on this issue by Councilmember Chavira, a Phoenix firefighter) is willing to give them everything and anything they want. Chavira will take care of his brothers in Glendale and we can only guess that Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela (a Glendale firefighter) will take care of his brothers in Phoenix. Sweet, isn’t it? It has a nice, quid pro quo ring to it, doesn’t it? Note that the city does not have a permanent City Manager. Yet he will have to deal with the largesse that this council dispenses.
After Ms. Schurhammer’s presentation, Ms. Julie Watters of the city’s Media and Communications Department, led the meeting by asking if there were any public comments. Mind you, a citizen could not ASK a direct question, only comment. If anyone had a question, they were directed to talk to that specific department director after the meeting. This is a tried and true practice that Glendale has practiced for years and which I have hated for just as long. For you see, if the question is a difficult or uncomfortable one, the answer is made only to the citizen seeking the answer after the meeting. After all, the city wouldn’t want all those citizens hearing that awkward answer to that difficult question. Would it? It’s a divide and conquer strategy that I believe is unfair to the citizens of our community.
- The Coyotes will be sold this month by the NHL.
- The idea of 4 separate arena management contracts (you remember…hockey, entertainment, education and cleaning) still has legs and is not dead.
- The general consensus is the Coyotes will be leaving Glendale as the city and the new team owner will not be able to come to mutually satisfactory terms on the arena lease management contract.
- Or the other theory is that the team will stay in Glendale briefly (2-5 years) and then relocate.
- This new council has no will to make the necessary and needed cuts over the next 4 years and likely will not sunset the temporary sales tax increase in 2017.
All departments will struggle to come up with adequate funding to support the hosting of the 2015 Super Bowl in Glendale. Further diminishment of citizen services may be the only way to fund the costs.