Mesa’s police and fire protection, utility systems, libraries and swim programs have the best chance of being preserved if voters do not approve new taxes in May, according to a City Council ranking of city services.
The council’s prioritization of six major categories and 66 specific programs and services show strong support for these services, with lesser support for arts grants and classes, historic preservation and downtown development.
The results released Thursday are not an official cut list, but it does give an indication where the council may decide to trim about $25 million in ongoing costs if the property tax and sales tax increase proposals fail on May 16.
“There is no perfect system but this gives us a starting point,” Councilman Rex Griswold said.
The council ranked these programs at a Feb. 3 budget retreat, shortly after the council was told that the previously reported $37.7 million shortfall was reduced to $25 million because of planned land sales in Pinal County and an agreement to attach a secondary property tax to all future general obligation
City Manager Chris Brady will use these results — along with rankings made by residents at six town hall meetings that conclude next week — to develop a budget with up to $30 million in cuts. Brady plans to present his recommended budget to the council in early March. The council will eventually adopt its own budget scenarios to be implemented depending on the outcome of the election.
Council members acknowledged the survey was not a perfect system and the weighted formula may not be an accurate representation of all services. For example, the lowest ranking in public safety — animal control — had a higher final ranking than code compliance, the top-ranked neighborhood services program.
Vice Mayor Claudia Walters said some of the services low on the list — such as engineering services at No. 49 — may score low but cannot be eliminated.
“There is a bias on our part to protect things we worry about and the community worries about,” Walters said.
Town hall meetings Open house: 6 p.m. Budget presentation and public comment: 6:30 p.m. Online: www.cityofmesa.org
Bush Elementary School, 4925 E. Ingram St.
Field Elementary School, 2325 E. Adobe St.
Mesa Convention Center, 201 N. Center St.
categories 1. Public safety (police and fire) 2. Utility services 3. Transportation services 4. Community services (libraries, parks and recreation, culture) 5. Development services (planning and zoning, Williams Gateway, downtown) 6. Neighborhood services (code compliance, neighborhood revitalization)
Top 10 services 1. Police patrol 2. Water service 3. Fire emergency response 4. Judicial services 5. Criminal investigations 6. Public safety dispatch 7. Crime and ID labs 8. Wastewater (sewer) service 9. Street repair and maintenance 10. Traffic control
Bottom 5 services 62. Historic preservation 63. Human services grants 64. Fiber optic infrastructure 65. Housing program (Escobedo apartments) 66. Town center development
Others 14. Libraries 17. Aquatics 25. Spring training baseball 28. Museums 35. Dial-A-Ride 41. Light rail 46. Williams Gateway 53. Art galleries and classes