Mesa has named 13 people to a committee charged with the herculean task of getting the city’s financial house in order.
The city has not had a property tax since 1945, relying on a sales tax, utility fees, stateshared revenue and voterapproved bonds to fund government functions and services.
The City Council grappled with shortfalls as large as $35 million during the last budget cycle, and a seven-year financial forecast shows the costs of servicing debt and maintaining facilities could continue to soar.
"We can’t continue doing things this way," Mesa financial services director Bryan Raines said. "Either our expenditures have to change significantly or our revenue levels have to change."
Members of the finance committee will be asked to recommend choices city officials should make to create a sustainable budget. But first, they’ll be getting a crash course in the services the city does provide, and the costs behind them.
"It’s going to be Government 101," said City Councilman Kyle Jones, chairman of the council’s three-member finance subcommittee, which will work with the newly appointed panel.
The city’s dire economic straits don’t necessarily mean a property tax, which would need voter approval. Neither Jones nor Mayor Keno Hawker, who will be a nonvoting committee member, are in favor of the idea, and two of the appointees also think the solution lies elsewhere.
Mesa insurance salesman Kirk Adams led a successful campaign last year against a proposed hike in the cable TV license tax, and his fiscal conservatism continues.
"The committee needs to plan for the long-term financial health of Mesa, but without putting extra burdens on the taxpayers, and I believe it is possible," he said.
Rosa Cantor, CEO of Creative Human Resources Solutions, said the city should step up its efforts to lure corporate relocations to the city.
"I have not seen a lot of effort by the city in getting businesses coming to Mesa," she said.
"They did a wonderful job with Boeing, but I think the taxation issues could be minimized by bringing in more businesses that pay taxes to Mesa," Cantor said.
The others on the committee are: Mesa Unified School District assistant superintendent Jill Benza; investigator and Mesa zoning board member Pat Esparza; Motorola employee Don Grant; Boeing financial analyst Greg Holtz; Merchant Information Solutions vice president Aaron Huber; attorneys Eric Jackson and Scott Rhodes; real estate broker and former State House Speaker Mark Killian; Longbow Business Park developer Bob McNichols, economic consultant Patricia Schroeder; and Parks and Recreation Board member Robin White.
The committee’s meetings will be open to the public and televised on Mesa Channel 11. The first will be 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in the lower level of the council chambers, 57 E. First St.