Your MPA’s response to City Manager Brady’s email reference the budget

On March 30th, 2017, City Manager Brady sent an email in reference to the proposed budget for 2017/2018. The email paints a dreary picture of city finances.

Below are talking points the MPA has been presenting and working on the last few months as we met with City and Community leaders. Many of these points are taken directly out of the City’s CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), which is the financial report filed with the federal government. Ultimately, much of the blame of our financial distress was put on our Public Safety Retirement System costs.

  • In 2011, when our State government changed the contribution rate for active PSPRS members, it was widely and publicly discussed that this could potentially be unconstitutional. Employers were cautioned to proceed carefully. From what we can see in the last six years, our City finances have improved and preparations for this upcoming payback were in place. City Management has done a phenomenal job of saving money and building reserves.
  • State law has allowed for employers to pay a portion of the costs of pensions. Think of it simply as your credit card payment. You are allowed to pay a minimum amount but your debt increases so you never close that gap. We as employees do not have the choice as what to contribute, yet we have always paid our full amount.
  • In discussions with City management, the 12 million dollar bill to PSPRS may be deferred and not due all at once.
  • As over 120 positions were eliminated in the Police budget, those savings should have been set aside for changes in PSPRS contributions.
  • Approximately 1/3 of PD personnel (and growing) were hired after 2012, which means the City’s contribution for them will not increase. (Should cut the City’s projected costs by 1/3)
  • All City departments were directed to propose a 5% reduction, not 2%. Department heads were told this was Public Safety’s fault due to PSPRS increases.
  • Water and Utilities revenue is up again from 14/15 and expenses are down. (More revenue)
  • General fund increased by over 16 million in 15/16. Residential construction is up 45% from 14/15. Commercial construction increased 16% from 14/15.
  • Corresponding dollar valuation with all FY 15/16 permits increased approximately 260 million dollars.
  • Eastmark alone is adding thousands of residents to Mesa, yet no increase in personnel has been proposed to handle those additional calls for service.
  • The Light Rail has increased pedestrian traffic as well as violent and property crime in the Central district.
  • Student housing on and around the Central district brings added calls for service.
  • Sales tax revenues are at a record high and have increased by almost 10 MILLION dollars from 14/15.
  • Spring training should have extremely high revenues, since the Cubs won the World Series. Both Cubs and A’s were sold out and certain games had increased ticket costs.
  • According to the US Census Bureau, Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the US.
  • The General Fund reserve balance saw a decrease in approximately 45 MILLION dollars. Where did that money go? It did not go to Public Safety, in fact we have been spread even more thin and cut spending continuously for the last nine years.
  • Since MPA started requesting those reserve fund monies be used for PD, the fund has been diminished or the minimum balance increased so Public Safety cannot use it.
  • 23 million was left on the table from the 15/16 budget. Where did that go? (see page 102 of CAFR) During the February 16th budget presentation discussion with council, it was explained there was only a 6 million dollar carry over from 15/16, not 23 million.
    • Utility Rate Adjustments for FY 2017/18, the following rate adjustments are being recommended:
      • Solid Waste:
        All residential rates, bulk item pick-up and appliance collection:
      • 3.5% increase Front-load rates: Overall 2.5% increase
        Roll-Off Green Waste Rate: 4.9% increase
      • Electric:
        Residential customers: system service charge increase of $1.25 per month Residential customers: no adjustment to the energy usage charge Non-residential customers: no adjustment to any components
      • Gas:
        System service charge increase of $0.75 per month and no adjustment to the usage charge
      • Water : 3.5% increase across most customer classes and rate components, Residential usage charge – tier 3: 6.5% increase & tier 4: 9.5% increase Interdepartmental (Large Turf): no adjustment
      • Restructure of residential services demand tiers – implement year three of five-year plan
      • Wastewater:
        4% increase across most customer classes and rate components
      • Interdepartmental: no adjustment

Public Safety did not create this funding issue. The City had not paid what it should have paid over the last couple of decades during good financial times (Minimum credit card payment example). As the City cut positions, personnel retired, resigned, etc, those savings should have gone towards paying down PSPRS costs.

The MPA has been told, on more than one occasion, that Public Safety has not been the priority for many years. When we were working closely with the City on the Sales Tax proposition, all we heard was that the police department was broken and desperately needed more funding and more personnel. Now, it’s time to cut more when almost every revenue source in the City is climbing.

Public Safety has always been willing to sacrifice what was best for others, it’s in our nature. We have cut when asked to cut, done way more with way less. Crime has dropped to record levels to a point that Mesa is nationally recognized and sought after by other agencies, but we cannot keep running Public Safety on skeletonized staffing. We are not being greedy, we are only asking to make Public Safety a priority.

The Mesa Police Association