DALLAS -- General-fund spending among Maricopa County, Ariz.’s 10 largest cities — Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Peoria, Surprise and Avondale — is set to increase by about 2% in the current fiscal year, according to a survey by the Arizona Republic.
The slight increase comes after years of deep cuts that led to pay freezes and layoffs. Sales and income taxes are rebounding, and property-tax collections are expected to climb in fiscal 2015 for the first time in several years, officials said.
Phoenix sales-tax collections fell nearly 16% from 2007 to 2010 while retail-based revenue dropped by about $50 million per year, or 18%.
In affluent Scottsdale, taxable sales dropped 30% from 2007 to 2010, and auto sales fell almost by half.
Phoenix is restoring some programs such as after-school recreational activities, hiring firefighters and expanding library services, the newspaper said. Peoria is expanding its workforce by 1%, and Gilbert officials are planning to repair a leaky roof on a recreation center that had been on the waiting list.
“It’s coming back, but it’s not coming back gangbusters,” Ken Strobeck, executive director for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, told the Republic. “Things are better, but it’s certainly not a heyday situation again.”
Among the cities still burdened from the recessionary years is the western Phoenix suburb of Glendale, where ratings have been downgraded due to falling revenues and heavy indebtedness tied to support for the Phoenix Coyotes National Hockey League team and the city-owned arena they play in.
Moody’s Investors Service also downgraded Chandler’s highway bonds in 2012 after the Arizona Legislature swept money intended for cities. The Legislature has not restored cities’ portion of the “highway-user revenue fund” that finances highway improvements in urban areas.