City of Glendale
Current issues in Glendale
There have been many issues brought to my attention over the past 4 years since I have served as your City Council Member, including poorly maintained roads, traffic congestion, light rail, rezoning areas that impact neighborhoods, police and fire, billboards, code compliance issues, property tax rates, chickens in neighborhoods, business red tape, losses on professional sports ventures, financial stability of the city, level of city services, water and sewer rates, property tax rates and many others. I am committed to represent the citizens of my district and I strive to understand the impacts my decisions have on daily life in the district. My constituents can rest assured that I am listening and acting in their best interest.
One of the first issues I brought to city council attention was the need to keep our property taxes flat. Even though there are many demands placed on our finite resources, it was prudent that we create a policy that does not raise our property taxes. State law gives latitude to the cities to raise tax rates each year. This was the city policy prior to my arrival on council. During my first budget discussions I suggested to council that we keep our taxes flat. Most of the city council agreed and our official council policy since has been to keep our property taxes at their current level. As property values increase, the tax rate is adjusted down to ensure no addition tax is assessed to the citizens of Glendale.
Glendale residents voiced their concern loud and clear that our streets need improvements. I voiced a strong opinion support of increasing the street budget for street improvements. During the 2019 current fiscal year discussions I asked staff to double the number of street crews in order to expedite our street maintenance program. As a result, the street department completed maintenance on more street miles during the 2019 budget year than had been completed in the prior 4 years. The program has been a major success even though there were few issues that needed to be worked. Council is requesting the same expedited service for the 2020 fiscal year.
Light Rail into Downtown Glendale
(Note: The City Council voted not to bring light rail into downtown Glendale in December 2017)
The light rail debate had already been decided by majority vote when I arrived on council. I questioned the long-term sustainability of the program and the value of its estimated costs. Light Rail into downtown Glendale was promoted as the catalyst for major downtown development. It may indeed help with downtown development, but the question I asked, "is the $1 billion+ price tag" worth it. (that's what the estimated cost including inflation to build it). The decision to build a light rail in Glendale appeared to be more regionally driven than locally driven. We needed to consider what is the best transportation plan for Glendale.
It was proven that Glendale could not afford the cost to bring light rail into downtown Glendale without going into significant debt, raising taxes and cutting other transportation projects such as street maintenance. Our street maintenance program described above could not have happened had we stayed on the course of bringing light rail into downtown Glendale. Once our citizens feel our neighborhood streets and other street infrastructure are in satisfactory condition, we can then consider utilizing extra transportation dollars for additional regional transportation projects.
Police and Fire
I understand the importance of Police and Fire in the City of Glendale and that safety is one of the prime duties of City Government
I supported the expansion of using 2-man crews for certain non-fire emergencies such as a slip and fall. I also supported other improvements outlined in the City Gate report to improve our fire operations. I also supported the additional manning and equipment for the Police department as outline in City Gate I promised to be open and fair, to listen thoroughly to all sides of an issue, and then with careful deliberation, decide which course to take.
The Glendale City Council has no direct impact on Education funding. The city does not vote on education issues, nor does it provide any direct funding for public school districts. This is the job of elected school boards. However, the city is involved with citizen continued education, opportunities through its libraries, parks and recreation and other departments and supports education events as they occur in the city. I strongly supported the addition of police resource officers at each high school in the city. These additional officers were in part paid from Glendale City general funds.
I supported the Governors increase for teacher pay, and support reducing class size and reducing administration cost. I support continue to support education as proven by my involvement: I was elected twice to the seven member West-Mec School board. During this time, I was elected three times as its chairman, and twice as vice-chairman. I voted to provide the Peoria Unified School district approximately $3 million a year for technical education programs and similar amounts to the Deer Valley School District. I also serve on a local K-12 School board. In addition, I serve on a nonprofit foundation that provides Stem education opportunities for students of all ages with an advanced high school engineering tutoring and mentoring program.
It is my hope that the Coyotes are successful and choose to stay in Glendale far into the future. At the same time, I also believe that once established, private business should not be subsidized by the taxpayers. There are times when government can provide incentives to attract business, but it should not be a long-term commitment with negative impact on the taxpayers. This means we should not enter into contracts that take money out of the pockets of the taxpayers. There should be short term full returns on incentives provided.
When the Coyotes first came to town the city received approximately $1 million per year plus a fixed amount for each ticket sold. It was a good deal for Glendale and fair to the hockey team. When the Coyotes declared bankruptcy in 2009, the City was persuaded to pay $50 million to the team to keep them here. In 2013 a very poorly designed contract to pay out $225 million was approved. In 2015 it was discovered that provisions of the contract had been violated dealing with how the contract was originally negotiated. As a result, the council voted to cancel the contract. It was subsequently renegotiated with significant savings to the taxpayers. This contract was for approximately two years. At the end of the two-year period a new contract was negotiated. The Coyotes have made verbal commitments to stay in Glendale through the 2018-19 season. In the meantime, the council has selected AEG as the management group to run the arena. The city negotiated a deal with AEG that has proven they are successful in attracting venues to the arenas they manage and can provide some assurance that the arena will be fully utilized, thus providing the city with revenues and opportunities for the entertainment district. The overriding direction given to AEG was to keep the coyotes in Glendale. After their First full year of operating the area, AEG has returned to Glendale significant additional profits from the arena operations.
Code Compliance and Business Red Tape
From the first day I started campaigning for office, one of the most frequent concern I heard from residents was the issue of code compliance enforcement. The types of issues brought forward included parking, general yard maintenance, operating a business out of homes that disturbed the neighborhood, abandoned or neglected homes or lots, and many others. I was not alone on this issue. The entire council voiced their support when I recommended a council code review committee. City management has also allocated resources for an outside consultant to review our code language and rewrite it, so it is consistent and enforceable. As chairman of the newly created Code Review Committee, I am committed to making the necessary improvements to our code language, so it is precise and enforceable.
The City council also created a Business Committee to review and simplify our city business regulations. In the past, Glendale has not been as business friendly as other local municipalities. One of the goals of City Council is to encourage new business development within the city. Therefore, the creation of the business committee is a key component of achieving that goal. As Vice-Chairman of the business review committee, I pledge to make Glendale a more friendly place to do business, while recognizing the importance of preserve citizen rights to enjoy their own property.
City Financial Stability
Due to the great recession, excessive debt and other factors, the city was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2013. As a result, the city was forced to make drastic cuts in services and in employees in order to get through the crisis. At the time, the city of Glendale was compared to the City of Detroit. Due to careful planning and the dedicated efforts of staff and council, the city had a major financial turnaround. In the past four years the cities financial health score has risen more than 4 levels. We currently have an AA- and Aa rating. This is good news to taxpayers because the city was able to refinance some of its debt at a much lower interest rate, saving millions of dollars. It also sends a strong message to the business community that Glendale is economically strong and ready to take on additional business opportunities.
Water and Sewer Rates
Water and sewer rates had not had any increase for over 8 years by 2017. At the same time, little investment had been put into preserving our current water and sewer infrastructure. There is no redundancy in our process, which makes it a major concern because of the possibility of a water shutdowns. In order to invest in the future success of the system, water rates were increased in 2018, and 2019 by approximately 6%. Proposals are under way to increase rates an addition 6% in both 2021 and 2022
Prior Campaign Issues:
Below are a few other issues citizens have spoken to me about
Tohono O'odham Casino
During the debate, I opposed the casino. Now that the debate is over, the Casino is currently open and authorized to have class III gambling. They are also in the process of building out their resort. My role with this issue is to approve future contracts with the Tribe for services we provide, promote economic growth around the Casino within Glendale, and to mitigate negative impacts of a casino on its neighbors. As the area develops, the city should negotiate an equitable deal that will compensate Glendale for its costs and to generate addition revenues for the general fund. The Tohono O'odham Nation provides the city of Glendale with a sizeable donation each year.
The Citizens have spoken loud and clear on this issue. THEY DO NOT WANT BILLBOARDS along the North 101 freeway. I listened and voted for the approval of the beautification corridor along 101 between 51st avenue and Bell Road, which does not allow for billboards.
Sales tax is the major tax revenue source for the City of Glendale. Our current tax rate is 2.9% consisting of the following:
1.0% Tax enacted by Glendale council for the general fund in about 1950
0.2% increase in sales tax enacted in about 1994
0.5% in total for Sales tax enacted by Citizen vote in two elections for Public Safety (1990's)
0.5% enacted by citizen vote in 2001 for transportation
0.7% Sales tax enacted by council and approved by voter referendum in 2012.
Glendale has one of the highest sales tax rates in the West Valley. This is one of the concerns my Sahuaro district neighbors have expressed as I have walked the district. Some people have stated that they do not shop in Glendale because of the high sales tax rate.
The most recent sales tax was enacted to get the city through the great recession and to pay for some poorly negotiated contracts. The tax was touted as temporary but was later made permanent. Each year I have asked staff to provide an analysis of the cost to reduce the sales tax rate by .1%. At present time, the council has chosen to allocate the funds this addition tax creates to pay in part for street improvements and to add to our fund balance. Once we achieve our $50 million reserve fund balance, we should be able to have serious discussions about reducing our sales tax rate. The Council continues to emphasis economic growth and it is my believe that lowering the sales tax will attract more retail business to the area. I will continue to ask council to consider reducing the sales tax rate each year during our budget workshops.
*** The Glendale city Sales tax does not affect school funding in any way. Reducing sales tax in Glendale does not equate to a reduction of school funding. ***