Tempe officials facing $1.8 million budget surprise - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Tempe officials facing $1.8 million budget surprise

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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:24 pm | Updated: 9:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Just days into the new fiscal year, Tempe officials are looking at a $1.8 million hole in their budget.

Rising gas prices and a money grab by the Legislature are largely to blame.

The shortfall is one of scores of issues going before the City Council during a pair of meetings: one tonight and the second on Tuesday.

Tonight's meeting promises to be short, deliberately.

The main event is the swearing-in ceremony for Mayor Hugh Hallman, and Councilmen Mark Mitchell, Joel Navarro and Corey Woods. Mitchell will be serving a third four-year term and Hallman a second; Navarro and Woods were elected for the first time in May.

After the new council adjourns, it immediately will reconvene at the nearby Tempe Mission Palms Hotel for a reception.

It will be at Tuesday's issue review session that the council will hear about outside factors that carry a large economic hit for the city.

In the budget approved by the council last month, $1.28 million was allocated for the General Fund's contingency budget, which is used to fund unexpected expenses.

Unexpected was the rise in gas prices by a full dollar from the year's beginning to July 1, when the fiscal year started. Because of this spike, the city must come up with an extra $650,000 for fuel, according to a report from financial services manager Jerry Hart.

Also coming as a rude surprise was state lawmakers' decision to yank $30 million from Arizona's cities and counties. It isn't known what the money will be used for, aside from supplementing the General Fund of a state facing a budget shortfall of $2 billion. Tempe officials have figured the city's share to be about $900,000.

Then, Tempe owes $271,000 as part of the state's settlement with telecommunications company Qwest over property taxes. More than half of that sum will come from Tempe's fund for debt service, with the remainder coming out of the General Fund.

Paying for police officers at the city's four high schools will cost another $165,000.

Finally, the city is wrapping up negotiations with its four unions: fire, police, supervisors and rank-and-file employees.As part of these contracts, Tempe will pay salaries based on a comparison with other Valley cities. Hart said the impact to the budget has not yet been determined.

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