Chandler is facing no tax increases and a better budget year in 2004-05 than in 2003-04.
But staff is projecting fiscal problems over the next few years amounting to millions.
Pat Walker, city director of management services, pitched a $636.4 million budget to the City Council in a budget session Thursday, a 4.8 percent increase over last year’s budget of $607.3 million. There were no proposed changes to city tax rates.
City Manager Mark Pentz said the budget is tight, but city services will be maintained.
"I would characterize the budget as austere, but adequate," he said. "We will be continuing the service delivery levels to our citizens and enhancing our services in the fire department; however, in most departments, we are just holding the line."
Pentz said city employees received no pay raises last year and to make a proposed 2 percent increase possible this year, Pentz asked departments to reduce their operational expenses by 1 percent. The move also allowed the city to maintain its program where employees can increase their pay by up to 5 percent with exemplary performance.
Walker said projected figures show the city will face tougher years ahead that will likely leave Chandler strapped for cash. She said staff projected shortfalls of $3.9 million in fiscal year 2005-06, $6.3 million in 2006-07 and $9 million in 2007-08.
"We are still seeing increases in revenues, but our expenditures are outpacing our revenues, so it was not a easy year to balance the budget," she said. "Based on our projections, we are looking at some major challenges in the next four years and beyond."
Walker said some of the issues contributing to Chandler’s woes is the loss of millions in state-shared revenue, increasing health care costs and retirement contribution costs and an increase in the cost of simply doing business.
The council is expected approve the budget May 27.