Mesa’s proposed budget has divided conservative and moderate members of the City Council.
Differing political philosophies have shaped how money will be spent, including a decision to cut nearly $200,000 for public art next year, because, in the words of incoming Councilman Tom Rawles, it is "immoral" for the government to subsidize art.
Mesa’s fiscal 2004-05 budget is a forecast by city officials of how much money they expect to come in, the revenue, and how they intend to use it, the expenditures. The budget also is a political statement. It redistributes revenue from the private sector to the public sector partly through taxes and utility fees.
Last month, several council members drew up lists of proposed expenditures they disliked.
Rawles, who espouses a Libertarian view, took issue with expenditures for light rail, holiday lights on Main Street, city social services, city marketing salaries and travel.
"I believe that the coercive force of government should only be used to provide essential government services," Rawles wrote in a May 17 memo. Those services are police, fire, the courts, streets, some utilities, parks and libraries, Rawles wrote. He takes office Monday.
A list by Councilwoman Janie Thom was notable for its errors. Thom, who also advocates limited government, wanted to cut expenditures from the current budget that aren’t scheduled until later years, including $16.8 million in federal money for city buses.
Based on information from Thom, the Tribune incorrectly reported the figures in a previous article.
Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh, who is leaving office, pointed out the errors in Thom’s list in a May 26 memo.
The latest proposal is for a total budget of $864.9 million, including a $678.4 million operating budget and $186.5 million in bond sales.
Last-minute additions to the budget include $150,000 to paint Hohokam Stadium, $527,000 for a 5-percent raise for firefighters, $1 million for street maintenance, $550,000 in salaries for 10 new police officers, $107,000 to pay a new employee in economic development and $1.2 million in utility construction projects.
The council votes on the budget Monday. It goes into effect July 1.