All items linked from this page are by Steve Hetsler
All of the cities proposals are to extend and expand authority spending and taxes. Most Mesa residents aren’t aware that Mesa’s combined tax and utility burdens compare unfavorably to other valley cities.
Before people give the city additional spending and borrowing authority, they should have a better understanding of how well the city has manages the resources it already has. This is an overview of the people and research behind the information provided and how the information is organized.An Overview of City Finances
We are constantly told that our utility rates are high because we don’t have a primary property tax. There is some truth to that, but not the whole truth.
This is an attempt to distill a large complex situation into situations most of us can get our heads around. Some complexity may be necessary, but sometimes it’s meant to obscure common sense.
Mesa has $3.7 billion in debt and liabilities and compares unfavorably to other Valley Cities. It’s not catastrophic yet but shows no signs of abating or improving. Passing new ballot issues can make it worse.
The city incurs $160 million in interest on bond debt and unfunded liabilities. With liabilities scheduled to increase and interest rates creeping back to historical levels the problem can only get worse.
Net Position is the governmental equivalent of Net Worth, Assets less Liabilities. This number continues to decline and as the city continues deficit spending, it is expected to get worse.
The average City of Mesa employee earns over $70,000 a year and the total cost of that employee, including benefits, is well over $100,000. Maybe they can afford the sales tax and utility increases. A lot of us may not.
Home Rule has never failed and doing so now would create serious problems. But a city government that gives away $63million dollars and floats new non-essential projects is a non-serious government that expects to return to business as usual.