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 Friday, April 28, 2017 Glendale city council had another all day budget workshop to continue its review of departmental budgets. Here’s how these department budget totals lined up in terms of total increases or decreases over the Fiscal Years of 2016-17 and 2017-18;

  • Budget, Finance and Non-Departmental     64.76% decrease                                           (this is an anomaly explained by the removal of two line items, Arena Events and the AZSTA stadium tax refund). In actuality this department will see a 6.24% increase in this year’s proposed budget.
  • Public Facilities and Events                         10.10% increase
  • Economic Development                              20.59% increase
  • Public Affairs                                               7.27% increase
  • Office of the Mayor                                      8.9%  increase
  • City Council Office                                     17.06% increase
  • Innovation and Technology                        13.60% increase
  • City Manager’s Office                                  2.15% decrease
  • City Clerk                                                 35.75% increase 
  • Water Services (Enterprise Fund)                 5.21% increase
  • Public Works (Enterprise Fund)                    3.17% increase

Budget, Finance, Non-Departmental. The issue within this department’s budget continues to remain the acquisition of and implementation of a city-wide ERP system called Munis. For years the city has utilized a system called PeopleSoft. From what I have heard some PeopleSoft modules were never fully implemented nor was staff adequately trained on the use of some of its modules. In addition, a year and a half ago the city paid $1.2 million to upgrade the Human Resources component of PeopleSoft. Oracle, the parent company of PeopleSoft has announced that it will continue to support the PeopleSoft system until 2027.

Staff contends that PeopleSoft requires a great deal of manual input and output with modules that cannot be tailored to the city’s needs in the 21st century. It, with the assistance of a consultant, has identified a system called Munis, tailored to the needs of local governmental needs. The cost of acquisition and implementation is $6 million over 3 fiscal years. While I believe they have made a case for acquisition of the Finance modules, I am not convinced that the abandonment of the HR PeopleSoft system, recently upgraded, is critical and warranted right now. Further discussion of this item will occur at council’s next budget meeting of Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Public Facilities and Events.  A great deal of council conversation continues to center on the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and its use of the city’s bed tax revenues. My question continues to be why does it cost the city $407,602 to administer this tax? Up until now the CVB has concentrated its advertising dollars (funded by the bed tax) toward a select group of downtown businesses. Council indicated quite clearly that advertising of downtown businesses must be more inclusionary and that advertising dollars should be directed to all businesses in Glendale rather than just the downtown core.

Economic Development. The major conversation was the acquisition of a Downtown Manager for $125,000 annually. A Request for Proposals was issued and the contract will be awarded to the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.  Major deliverables in this contract include the establishment of a downtown merchants’ association and a full and complete current inventory of all downtown properties. While these are major tasks if they are not or cannot be accomplished during the contract’s first year the contract could be terminated.

Public Affairs.  The realignment of departments under the new City Manager Kevin Phelps created this new department. Its focus is primarily public relations for the city. Within this department is the city’s cable TV division. If you are a Cox subscriber you have the opportunity to visit Channel 11 to see some award winning programming.

Office of the Mayor and City Council Office. The Mayor and City Council are the most visible representatives of our city. We serve in so many ways: representation of the city on national, regional and local levels; we are your voice and our prime directive is to represent your interests and concerns; and we make policy decisions for the entire city. During the recession these two divisions, just as all other departments, reduced the number of support staff making us lean but not so mean. Since my last service as a councilmember in 2012 and my return in 2016 I am surprised that elected officials’ duties and responsibilities have increased significantly. When I returned to council I staffed myself for the first four months. I was able to experience, up close and personally, how much work a council assistant must perform. Yet a council assistant staffs two councilmembers. It is an impossible situation. The move toward a council assistant for each councilmember is long overdue.

Innovation and technology. This is an area that merits further scrutiny. Many departments now have their own IT support or pay for it annually as part of a licensing contract for specialized software. Training on new software is often also included in the purchase of specialized software. Has our IT department become no more than glorified support for the city’s vast numbers of personal computers at work stations? I don’t know but it is an area that deserves in-depth discussion by council.

City Manager’s Office. The city manager sets an example for the entire city and a reduction in his budget is symbolic for the organization. He is demonstrating that more can be done with less in some circumstances. Mr. Phelps has demonstrated his abilities to tackle tough issues and to create new initiatives that will benefit the city over the long-term.

City Clerk. While election season takes a brief hiatus (at the end of this year, 2017, candidates for the Ocotillo, Barrel and Cholla city council seats will be able to take out nominating petitions) the City Clerk’s election budget shrunk to $2,000. Yet in this information age, the number of documents, contracts, correspondence, etc., has exploded. Most of these materials must be retained per state or city policy.  The increase in this department budget is to meet this need.

Water Services and Public Works. These areas are Enterprise Funds meaning they rely upon residents’ use of and monthly payment for these services. Their revenues are your monthly payments for water, sewer, sanitation and landfill. These departments are the worlds of engineers. They understand numbers. As a result, their budgets are very clean and comprehensive. It’s always a pleasure to review these departmental budgets because they are so clear. There are two major initiatives in these areas. During the recession, water services delayed many major repair and maintenance projects. There is now the opportunity to address these issues and in addition, an opportunity to plan for future needs by beginning to build redundancy into the system of water delivery. Public works’ major initiative now and for the next 5 years is the pavement management program. Over the next 5 years the entire system of streets in the city will receive some form of remediation, long over-due. In addition, a suggestion I made will also be implemented by changing the city’s street lighting to LED will save the city approximately half a million dollars a year.

The next budget workshop is Tuesday, May 2, 2017 and begins at 1:30 PM. It had originally been scheduled for 9 AM but a change to the afternoon became necessary. If you would like to watch this workshop you can view it on Cox TV cable channel 11 or online at www.glendaleaz.com, at cable channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               


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