Budgeting for the next fiscal year, during these times of unknowns, is a very difficult thing to do.
Therefore, this upcoming budget must be flexible. The council will be reviewing the budget every month in a work study session to make, if necessary, monthly changes to expenditures as a response to income.
This past Tuesday night we did approve a tentative budget for fiscal year 20-21, which sets the maximum expenditure limit. The maximum expenditure limit set was $1.54B.
The important fund to watch is the General Fund. We approved a fiscal year 20-21 budget forecasting revenues to be $297M, which is a 6% decrease from actual fiscal year 19-20; and expenditures to be $278M, which is a 3% decrease from actual fiscal year 19-20.
In March, the staff immediately responded to the COVID-19 crisis by eliminating many city services such as library hours, pools, parks and trollies.
The city also eliminated non-essential contractual services, furloughed part-time staff, froze all new hires, eliminated planned cost-of-living raises for staff and more.
Additionally, staff adjusted the fiscal year 19-20 budget downward to better reflect the impact on revenues due to the state-wide protocols of business closures and stay-at-home.
Through these reductions in programs and staffing, the city is at its lowest FTE count (Full Time Equivalents, or number of full-time employees) in the last 15 years, yet we are serving a larger population which increased by 16%. Your city staff and council’s reduction of the FTE count per 1,000 residents decreased from 12.3 to 9.5 full time employees per resident.
We have a reserve of over $51M for public safety pension liability. I believe it’s time to use some of this to invest in the needs of our community --- small business assistance, arts and culture assistance, care for vulnerable citizens, utility assistance, and more.
However, the majority council voted to continue accruing these funds for public safety pension liability in the future.
Leadership matters when it comes to creating a workable city budget, and I’m glad we were able to come up with something that will serve us well into this next year.
Your City Council takes the responsibility seriously to use your tax dollars wisely. We will be meeting monthly in work-study sessions to evaluate monthly budgets to actual income and be prepared to make any necessary changes to the annual General Fund on a timely basis.
Editor’s Note: Virginia Korte is a member of Scottsdale City Council in pursuit of the mayor’s seat at the August primary.