When this question is raised the first thing that Council and Staff will tell you is that because the city doesn’t have a primary property tax, they have to make up the difference in utility rates, that they’ve been doing this for 70 years.
This can be a valid strategy. However, if the higher utility rates were simply a substitute for a primary property tax, then one would expect that the overall burden -i.e. taxes plus utility rates would even each other out and the total burden would be the same.
That is not the case as shown by this graphic provided by the city. In a comparison of valley cities, the only city substantially higher than Mesa is Glendale. Tempe is slightly higher, Phoenix is a little lower, while Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert, all with higher incomes and home values are substantially lower. The complete details are here. Details are here https://data.mesaaz.gov/City-Operations/Average-Homeowner-s-Annual-Cost-Comparison-by-Fisc/gaz5-p9yg
Glendale is about half the population of Mesa with income levels a little higher and home prices a little lower. What makes it such an anomaly? Could it have been the hockey arena? Spring training facilities? Weren’t the economic development benefits pay off. Ask the citizens of Glendale who they think is paying for it.
Most residents aren’t aware that while utility costs can be used to support basic city functions. It also funnels money into an economic development, with no demonstrated rate of return, which on turn goes into the operation of the Cubs Stadium, Hohokam Field, Mesa Arts Center, and Dobson Ranch Golf Course.