Council cuts plan for food tax to pay for new FY17 public safety positions; recommends new funding option
Surprise, AZ (May 5, 2016) The Surprise City Council has opted for a new funding mechanism that would allow the city to add 22 full-time public safety personnel in Fiscal Year 2017, without creating a food tax.
At the April 19 City Council Meeting, City Manager Bob Wingenroth presented a $298.6 million Fiscal Year 2017 Recommended Budget, and on May 4th Council approved a $306.8 million FY2017 Tentative Budget, that support City Council’s Strategic Goal of maintaining a safe community by adding more than 20 public safety personnel.
The positions would have been financed through a combination of a reduction in the city’s sales tax base from 2.20% to 2.12%, and the addition of a 2.12% food tax to generate an estimated $2.4 million.
Following public input, Council asked for additional funding options that excluded a food tax. Tuesday night, on a 4-3 vote, Council approved a funding formula that eliminates the $1 million Council Contingency; utilizes $500,000 in annual budgeted salary savings; opts to not add an Emergency Operations Manager position in FY17; and includes an 8.7% property tax increase to pay for the following positions:
Police: 13 | Fire-Medical: 7 | Court: 1 | City Attorney: 1
The property tax increase on a $200,000 home would result in an annual increase of $13, or $1.08 per month.
This budget also dedicates $55.2 million for capital improvements to preserve and/or replace aging infrastructure, such as increasing funding for the Pavement Preservation Program to $4.5 million.
Investments in communications, facility, information technology, recreation and utility infrastructure amount to $6.8 million. And $10.5 million will support replacing aging vehicles to enhance service and lower maintenance costs.
Beginning in November, the city will assume responsibility for billing the water, waste water and sanitation utilities. By removing these operations from a third-party vendor, the city will be able to provide more efficient operations and provide an improved customer experience. This service will result in an additional 11 positions. The ongoing utility billing budget of $1.7 million that had been paid to the third-party vendor will remain the same once the city transitions to the billing responsibilities.
Council is scheduled to formally adopt the FY2017 budget at their June 7 meeting and the property tax rate on June 21. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m., are open to the public at City Hall and available online at www.surpriseaz.gov/surprise11.