Glendale leaders consider tax hike to help balance budget

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At A Shot of Java in Glendale, Debbie Spencer serves coffee hot or cold.
But it's her opinions on the City that she serves straight up.

"As a taxpayer, it's difficult for me to see services being eliminated, people losing their jobs and yet we're trying to keep the Coyotes whole," Spencer said.

She's watched as Glendale's budget took a hit from the deal to keep the Coyotes and their arena running, and she's not happy with what the city's had to do because of it.

"From our perspective it's much better to have a team in there, 40 nights a year generating revenue, drawing traffic as a way to help pay your bills," said Julie Frisoni, spokeswoman for the City of Glendale.

City officials defend its commitment to the Coyotes, but admits it sent the 2013 budget spiraling.

Beginning this week, the city council will try to plan for a $32 million shortfall.

The City said $17 million goes to maintaining Arena. Economic factors, including low returns on taxes, are to blame for $15 million of the shortfall. To make up some of those losses, city officials are turning to the taxpayer.

"Property taxes and sales taxes were something that Glendale had not done in years and something that other cities have been doing as ways to manage their way throughout the shortfall," said Frisoni.

The city council will consider a sales tax increase of 0.7 percent, bringing it up from 2.2 to 2.9 percent.

An increase on the secondary rate of the city's property tax would raise the total rate from $1.59 to $1.90 per $100 of assessed valuation.

It might help the budget, but it won't change Spencer's opinion. The damage is done.

"Focusing on tourism and sports was all fine and good when the economy was booming, but shame on them, they should have been focusing on high quality high paying jobs," Spencer said.

Glendale will host three public meetings on the issue. The council will likely vote on the budget at the end of June.