City of Glendale
Current issues in Glendale
There have been many issues brought to my attention over the past 9 years since I have served as your City Council Member, including poorly maintained roads, traffic congestion, light rail, rezoning and special use permits 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. Additional, when additional bond authority is approved by the residents, The council position is to issue new bonds only when previously issued bonds have matured and are paid off. In this way the total tax collected each year for bond payments remains the same and property tax increases do not occur.
Glendale residents' concerns about our street conditions was loud and clear. Over the past several years I have advocated for additional funding for street maintenance and improvements. As a result, the street department has completed maintenance on record numbers of street miles over the past several years. The program has been a major success even though there are more issues that need to be addressed. We must remain consistent with our road infrastructure investments. The recent passage of the street bond authority by the public will insure we stay on tract and continue to improve Glendale Streets.
Light Rail into Downtown Glendale
(Note: The City Council voted not to bring light rail into downtown Glendale in December 2017)
The decision to bring light rail into down-town Glendale 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 was 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 was best 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.
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 non-fire emergencies such as a slip and fall. I also supported other improvements to our fire operations. I also supported the additional manning and equipment for the Police department as outline in City report on public safety. Major investments were added to Westgate area in 2023 to ensure a safe entertainment and shopping experience. 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 schools in the city. These additional officers are in part paid from Glendale City general funds.
I supported the increase for teacher pay, and support reducing class size and reducing administration cost. I 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.
I 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 business promoting contracts that take money from taxpayer revenues that do not have major offsetting benefits to the residents. Any legal incentives provided to business should have a short-term full return 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 on a year-to-year basis. When it became evident that the Coyotes want to move elsewhere and was not interested in a long-term lease in Glendale, the city decided not to renew their annual contract. Subsequently, the Coyotes moved to Tempe.
When the Coyotes left Glendale, the arena has been able to fill vacant days with additional concerns and events. This past year the arena has experienced its best year over year growth and profit since it was built. We just celebrated the arena's 20th anniversary and requires millions of dollars in capital improvements. Recently the arena was sold for market value and most of the capital improvment costs have been shifted to the new owners.
Code Compliance and Business Red Tape
From the first day I started campaigning for office, one of the most frequent concerns 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 Code Review Committee, I was committed to making the necessary improvements to our code language, so it is precise and enforceable. Council recently voted on these changes, and they continue to be updated.
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 was a key component of achieving that goal. As Vice-Chairman of the business review committee, I helped 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 was 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 to cover major increases in the cost of water, chemicals and labor, and for major investments in infrastructure.
The city has experienced economic growth over the past several years that is unprecedented. The overall goal of our economic strategy has been to provide superior services to residents without increase taxes. This has been accomplished by promoting our existing West Gate, Arrowhead Mall, Health Care Campuses, Education, Downtown, and promoting new industrial and commercial development along our western border near Luke Airforce Base. Since 2018 over 30 million square feet of commercial building space has been built, is being built or in the planning phase with the city. In comparison, all commercial development since the establishment of Glendale over 100 years ago was well under 22 million square feet. The net benefit to our residents is that the revenue generated by the construction and operation of these new buildings can be used to improve infrastructure and pay for ongoing costs of the city. It is well known that commercial buildings require must less infrastructure investment by the city. These economic growth areas have provided Glendale with a positive cash flow that can be spent on city-wide operating costs and maintaining infrastructure in existing areas of the city.
Below are a few other issues from citizens
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.
Starting in January 2025, the rental sales tax will be removed in the city of Glendale, resulting in a loss of about $13 million per year to the city. This money will go directly back into the pockets of people who rent apartments, homes, etc. The City is expected to absorb the cut in the budget due to the expected increase in sales tax that will be generated by the VAI, currently under construction near the Cardinal's stadium. However, additional cuts to sales tax are not underway by the council until we see the full impact of the rental tax cuts, and the condition of the economy.