April 17–Public Affairs Wrap Up

If you missed yesterday’s Public Affairs Committee meeting, here are the highlights:

As the legislative session winds down, the Chamber’s Public Affairs team is shifting focus to the City of Phoenix budget process.

On Thursday, April 17, 2014, Phoenix’s City Manager, Ed Zuercher and with city budget staff presented an in-depth city budget presentation to the Public Affairs Committee.

Items up for discussion with the City Manager’s Trial Budget were the budget cuts needed to close the $37 million deficit the city is facing in FY 2015. Zuercher also described the possible tax and fee increases discussed at the April 16, 2014, City Council Policy meeting. Under consideration are: an increase in parks and recreation fees, an addition of a water meter fee based on the size of any water meter and a possible plastic grocery bag fee.  According to state law and city ordinance, possible tax and fee increases must be posted for public comment for 60 days before the city can adopt a formal policy change. This comment period officially started onApril 16, 2014.

Zuercher recognized some key points in improving Phoenix’s economic outlook including: “Growing business and growing per capita personal income, raising education attainment levels, improving schools and making it easier to do business with the City,” he said.

Based on the 2014 Public Policy Guide, the Chamber believes the proposed spending reductions put forth by the City Manager’s Office are a modest step to help close the spending gap for 2015.

Further, spending cuts should be of first priority in striking a balance between expected revenue and expenses. Tax and fee increases will not solve long term structural issues and would only delay the next budget shortfall. It’s time to examine revenue versus expenditures, and look for innovative ways to avoid future budget shortfalls and maintain a structurally balanced budget.

The business community also wants to ensure as Phoenix moves forward with the budget process for 2015 that it maintains services that impact the day-to-day functions of the City that support business development opportunities that will further economic growth in Phoenix.

It’s vital for the City’s budget policies to balance the collection of revenues to maintain essential services and mandated requirements while ensuring continued economic vitality of business and industry.

For the past several years, the Chamber has reviewed the city budget and made recommendations in the public forum for the City Council and Mayor to consider, prior to adopting a final budget proposal. The presentation at yesterday’s Public Affairs meeting was the beginning of that process.

Next week, the Chamber’s Board of Directors will take into consideration recommendations from the Public Affairs Committee, based on analysis from the Budget and Tax Committee’s Local Government Task Force, to establish a formal Chamber position on the City’s budget.

 

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