Chandler seeks ‘return to normalcy’ in adoption of $1.1B fiscal-year budget

Chandler Police gains 27 officers and increased funding in the 2021-22 fiscal-year budget. –Wrangler News file photo

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With a focus on “returning to normalcy,” Chandler City Council on June 10 unanimously adopted a 2021-22 fiscal-year budget of nearly $1.1 billion.

There was no public input or comment for or against the new budget.

The budget, which becomes effective July 1, is 13.6 percent larger than that of the current fiscal year. It anticipates the city receiving $36 million in American Rescue Plan Act grants.

“This budget is the result of department directors and their respective teams’ review and prioritization of services and projects based on Council’s Strategic Policy Goals, guidance from the Council Budget Kickoff in December 2020, and subsequent budget workshops,” said Acting City Manager Josh Wright. “As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic incorporated into the current year’s budget were fortunately not realized, the budget has been adjusted to allow funding of the needed programs that impact our residents daily, but continues to ensure they are delivered in an efficient and responsible way.

“This continues to reflect Chandler’s commitment to hear our citizens by providing the highest-quality services in the most cost-effective manner while maintaining the city’s long-term financial sustainability. It is important to remember that the adopted budget for fiscal year 2020-21 included significant reductions to minimize any potential impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak.”

That budget was pared to bare bones, the city said, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to guard against catastrophic loss of revenue.

That did not happen. In fact, city employees received bonuses in April for pitching in to bring the city in under budget.

The 2021-22 budget includes $90 million for police, up from the $86.5 million in the adopted budget for the current fiscal year.

“One thing that is exciting is that we are adding public-safety bodies,” Councilman Matt Orlando said.

The 2021-22 budget covers 12 new officers and 15 “overfill” positions, which allow a police candidate to be hired and complete training while a current officer continues to serve the community.

While many items whittled a year ago have been restored, the city says there will be a slight reduction in the property-tax rate — to $1.1126 per $100,000 of assessed valuation from $1.1201 due to increase in valuation of property value across city. The assessed limited cash value of Chandler property is up 5 percent.

The fiscal-year 2021-22 budget totals $1,058,074,338 and includes funding for departmental operating budgets of $411,883,447; funding for debt service of $73,753,925; budget for equipment, technology, and vehicle replacements of $5,086,418; and contingencies and reserves in the amount of $198,378,473 in various funds.  The capital budget includes $113,260,825 in new appropriation, capital carry forward of $255,461,250, and contingency and reserve funding of $250,000.

Included in the projected operating revenues of $510,712,767 is revenue from a property-tax levy of $38,056,745 based on the reduced rate of $1.1126 per $100 assessed property valuation, plus $481,455 for SRP’s payment to the city in lieu of property tax for a total of $38,538,200.

A home with limited cash value of $213,000, which is the median value set by the Maricopa County assessor, would have a primary property-tax bill of $237.42. Even though the tax rate has declined, the monthly bill goes up 82 cents in this example because the value of the property has been assessed higher this year.

The new budget, according to the city, maintains existing service levels, adds funding for labor association commitments,  a $22 million one-time pay-down to the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System liability, maintains reserves, including a 15 percent general-fund contingency reserve and $10 million budget stabilization reserve.

The property-tax levy is expected to be approved on June 24.

Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell became a journalist because he didn’t become a rocket scientist! He exhausted the math courses available by his junior year in high school and earned early admission to Rice University, intending to take advantage of its relationship with the Johnson Space Center and become an aerospace engineer. But as a high school senior, needing a class to be eligible for sports with no more math available, he took student newspaper as a credit and was hooked. He studied journalism at the UofA and has been senior reporter, copy desk chief and managing editor at several Valley publications.

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