The Goodyear City Council is poised to adopt a tentative $599.4 million fiscal 2021 budget Monday, June 8 reflecting an $85.2 million increase over 2020 that will allow the city to continue operating at current service levels.
The regular meeting will begin after a Community Facilities District board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., with a workshop session following the regular meeting. The meetings at Goodyear Municipal Court and Council Chambers, 14455 W. Van Buren St., Ste. B101, mark the first time the public can attend city meetings in person since the COVID-19 pandemic forced public building closures in March. Each will be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page, @goodyearaz.gov, and video will be available at goodyear.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx for those who want to watch later.
Final adoption of the budget is scheduled for the council’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, June 22, with tax levy adoption scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 6. Both meetings will be held in council chambers.
Like many other cities across the nation, Goodyear is taking a conservative budgeting approach in the wake of revenue losses due to the pandemic.
“Due to the unprecedented times we are currently experiencing, the $599.4 million budget provides for ongoing operations at current service levels and adds to the ongoing and one-time operating budget only what is needed to meet known obligations or that are essential to operations,” City Manager Julie Arendall stated in her budget report to the council. “Despite the current economic challenges, this budget follows council-adopted policies addressing areas such as matching ongoing costs with ongoing revenues, a strong contingency, debt management, an allocation of a portion of construction sales tax for ongoing purposes, and also provides for a deliverable capital plan.”
Despite budget preparation that began in October, Ms. Arendall said that due to the pandemic the 2021 budget was prepared with “very little information on the real impacts to local sales taxes and state-shared sales, gas and vehicle taxes that are driven by consumer and business spending and miles driven. Revenue projections that support this budget were prepared with no local data on the impacts of the stay-at-home order, the federal government’s stimulus payments to our residents and small business loans, or the Opening Up America Again plan guidance.”
Sales tax and state-shared revenues are projected to drop significantly for two months and then begin a slow climb throughout FY2021, Ms. Arendall stated.
“However, given housing projects underway, population growth, and economic-development-related activity, a slowdown in development activity is not anticipated in this budget beyond our typical conservative approach to estimating related fee and construction sales tax revenues,” she stated.
Must-do projects in the budget include completion of a new 48,000-square-foot recreation campus at Estrella Parkway and Harrison, continued construction of a surface water plant, the Civic Square at Estrella Falls, a new Fire Station 186 and replacement of Fire Station 181.
Ms. Arendall noted that while the city’s combined property tax rate remains below the $1.74 per $100 of assessed valuation called for in Goodyear’s adopted financial policies, the proposed budget does not call for rate changes in sales taxes, user fees or utility rates.
“However, several studies are in progress to review citywide user fees; water, wastewater and solid waste rates; and the development of a storm water program and fee,” she stated. “These will be coming forward for council discussion and action through the first half of FY2021. Planning for the surface water project did forecast annual water rate increases to pay for debt services on the water revenue supported bonds as well as operations of the new plant.”
General fund budget
The 2021 general fund budget is $145.2 million, which includes $96.3 million for day-to-day operations.
“This is a 6.5% increase from the FY2020 operating budget that is attributable to $4.4 million in must-do supplemental budget additions, inflationary increases and obligations, and salary and benefit increases,” Ms. Arendall stated. “The contingency is set by financial policy at $16.7 million, equal to 15% of general fund ongoing revenue, plus another $17.1 million has been added to provide capacity to absorb further revenue deterioration than anticipated or to address mid-year needs. Additional budget capacity has also been included in the event that revenue exceeds current expectations. This budget capacity would allow for mid-year supplemental budget or project additions with council approval.”
Staff pared money from the budget in several ways, including using restricted revenues to fund two temporary Goodyear Municipal Court positions, delaying construction of traffic signals on Camelback Road at Perryville and Sarival roads until fiscal 2022, and shifting Goodyear Ballpark wall stabilization project into absorbed into 2020’s safety improvements project.
The general fund also got a $10 million boost from Arizona CARES Act funds, Ms. Arendall stated, noting the money was added to the general fund special contingency.
Wage increases and new staffing
The budget includes a $2.5% market adjustment for represented sworn police and fire employees and a $5% step increase for those not at the top of their pay range, required by city agreements with those departments, Ms. Arendall stated. Other agreement provisions provide for increases to specialty and assignment pays, city-paid deferred compensation and/or contributions to retirement health plans.
“The value of the total compensation packages for represented sworn police and fire include increases of 4.8% and 4.7% respectively,” Ms. Arendall stated. “Non-represented employees will receive a 2.5% ongoing pay increase. We will revisit non-represented salary and benefits with you in mid-FY2021 once the outcomes of the initial pandemic response and the impact on the economy, and our local revenues are better known.”
The budget also adds 25.4 full-time equivalent positions, 17.4 of which are for the recreation campus. The remaining eight positions were added to water and wastewater enterprise funds to address growth and maintenance needs and new capital project operating costs. Six part-time positions in the parks department were converted to full-time positions,” Ms. Arendall stated.
“These changes grow the citywide authorized position count from 680.8 to 706.2 full-time equivalent positions,” she noted.
The budget includes a five-year $586.8 million FY2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan that will see $218.9 million in carryovers from FY2020 for incomplete or multi-year projects.
The 2021 capital improvement program includes $54.4 million in general funds, most of which will be allocated for the Civic Square project and recreation campus-related projects, Ms. Arendall stated.
Also planned to begin in 2021 are design for a fire station in west Goodyear, design for the expansion of the Police Operations facility, utility projects to replace water meters and perform major maintenance projects.
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or 760-963-1697