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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

cit mtg 2Congratulations are in order to city staff. At the City Council workshop of April 16, 2013 working in an atmosphere where the current city council is loathe to make any budget cuts that are associated with layoffs and in fact wants to add additional police and fire positions is difficult, to say the very least. The cuts that this council will not accept remain necessary even as they collectively stick their heads in the sand.

Staff, knowing that cuts to the budget will not be accepted, took the obverse approach and has offered this council revenue enhancement. It seems that raising property taxes and collecting additional revenue from the Enterprise Funds for services provided by the General Fund may be the answer. This is not the final solution, however. As Ms. Schurhammer stated today, budget cuts, albeit more modest ones, are still needed and the sooner the better. As she and the rest of staff have said repeatedly the city’s budget has a structural deficit. In other words, more is spent than is taken in.


Yvonne Knaack

It was noted that Vice Mayor Knaack, a member in good standing for many years, of the “gang of four” (voting bloc of the former mayor), now repudiates the former mayor’s imperative to keep the city’s property tax rate low. She actually had the temerity to say that she never supported the former mayor’s desire to keep property taxes artificially low. Too bad she never spoke out publicly or demonstrated her beliefs in a vote.

Chavira photo

Sam Chavira

Councilmember Chavira once again, embarrassingly and obviously, carried fire’s water bucket in an attempt to get this council to support granting the 15 fire fighter positions (at a cost of $1.5M every year) coveted by the fire department. If one didn’t know his agenda all one had to do was watch his performance in feeding positive questions to the Fire Chief to immediately figure it out. Every once in a while he would throw the police department a bone by including them in the discussion but his sole objective was to advance the cause of his brother firefighters. Mr. Bowers, Interim City Manager, made it very clear that the staff recommendation is to deny any supplemental requests this year including those of fire and police. His reasoning was straight forward and quite clear, “The city simply does not have the money.” This time, at least for now, council listened and it appears that these supplementals will not be granted. This council is not quite done with this subject. I suspect they will look for other means to grant, at the very least, fire’s supplemental.


Gary Sherwood

Councilmember Sherwood once again raised the question as to whether a figure of $6M was adequate for the arena costs. He became a little confused in attempting to get the figure of annual revenue the arena generated (not all of Westgate…and the western world…thank you) out. Well, we, dear readers, already know what that figure is from a previous blog where I conveyed the average numbers reported by the NHL as the manager of the arena. Ta Da! That revenue figure averages $6 to $7 million annually. No one else on council seemed interested in a workshop on arena costs and revenues so it died as a future topic.

musicCouncilmember Alvarez appears to have only two songs in her repertoire. One is the siren song to support the Tohono O’odham in its quest to plant a casino in Glendale less than a quarter mile away from Westgate. Again she called for a public forum (read free favorable publicity for the Tohono O’odham) before council. Again, she was rejected by a majority of the council. Does she not understand that the city is a party to state and Tribal interest litigation against the casino?

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Her other one-note song is blaming others for her belief in the city’s continual waste of money. Please note it is a waste of money to her if it is not being spent to increase the salaries of its low wage employees. Her public definition of low wage employees is anyone making under $130,000. My goodness…reminds me of Obama’s definition of the rich ($250K annually, for tax purposes)!  Today’s rant on city waste was twofold: the absolute waste of the city’s involvement in Camelback Ranch and the car dealership coming finally to Bell Road with the city’s incentive to forgive a portion of sales tax for a specified amount of time. She refuses to understand that the dollar a year rental of Camelback Ranch for the teams is in exchange for their picking up the tab for operating and maintaining the facility year round (saving the city a cost of easily a million dollars a year). Instead of taking the time to truly understand the issue we hear her accusations of the city being too busy thinking of the glory of sports and not realizing that sports bring the city nothing. What she fails to realize that as part of this new council she bears the same baggage as the rest of them. On her watch the dealership will come in. Therefore on her watch the dealership will receive the sales tax incentive.


savingsIn my posting the other day, “Saving grace,” I talked about the $17M allocated and reserved in Glendale’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget for Jobing.com Arena’s lease management agreement. I suggested that saving that $17M would be prudent by placing it in the city’s Unappropriated Contingency Fund. It should not be spent at this time. Then should there be a lease management agreement the first year’s funding would be available or if not used in that manner, it would fatten the city’s bottom line, an attractive strategy for lowering interest rates on the city’s bond indebtedness.

Well, apparently everyone – from city staff to the council – is already placing dibs on that money as evidenced by the March 19, 2013 City Council workshop.  Ms. Sherrybargaining 3 Schurhammer, Executive Director of Finance, offered many ways to spend it. Some of the expenditures include:

  1. Paying for the special, outside audit mandated by the new council.
  2. Paying for the consultant (read Beacon Sports and its special ties to the Reinsdorfs) to write and manage the RFP for the arena.
  3. Miscellaneous city department overages or unexpected expenses.
  4. Repaying loans made from the water and sewer funds.
  5. Paying for fund transfers to and from the Risk Management Trust Fund and the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund.

Add to that staff wish list Mayor Weiers’ recent comment about raising employees’ salaries. Also add Councilmember Chavira’s plaintive call for a Special Council Workshop to consider the issue of Public Safety employees’ compensation and Councilmember Alvarez’ desire to restore or increase funding for youth and the poor.

If everyone’s desires are fulfilled, you can say good-bye to that $17M at the end of budget workshop discussions. Then where will the funding come from if (are you listening, God?) there ever is a successful contract for the arena and its management.

tax increaseI also heard the first tentative feelers being thrown out there publicly about Glendale’s property tax rates and the fact that revenues from that source continue to drop. Don’t be surprised if there is discussion (and possibly) adoption of higher property tax rates in Glendale.