By Kelly Corsette
With a historic year behind us, the Scottsdale City Council recently adopted the Fiscal Year 2021/22 budget that supports sustained commitment to pandemic response and recovery and continues investing in an array of community programs and projects.
The city’s fiscal year began on July 1. Despite the continuing negative effects of the pandemic on the city’s key travel and tourism sectors, revenue growth is projected to rebound substantially in the year ahead. However, the budget reflects a cautious and conservative approach given global uncertainties that remain – ongoing revenue sources exceed ongoing expenditures.
General fund sales tax collections are projected to increase $21.6 million from the previous year as the city’s travel and hospitality industries emerge from the pandemic. This expected rise will also lead to additional state shared revenue (the city’s proportionate share of state sales and vehicle license taxes).
The most substantial new spending allocation comes in the form of a $40 million pay-down toward the city’s unfunded public safety pension liability – the first significant payment from the general fund PSPRS reserve designation that was established specifically for this task several years ago.
The budget also continues employee pay and benefits programs that keep Scottsdale competitive as an employer of choice. A handful of new staff are included to provide more frontline customer service support, improve the city’s cybersecurity program, and address increased workloads in several maintenance, inspection, and administrative areas.
With lessons in hand about how the pandemic disproportionately affected lower income people in Scottsdale, the budget includes a $10 million appropriation for affordable housing initiatives.
State and federal funding programs
In the previous fiscal year, the City of Scottsdale received $29.6 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (via the state’s AZCares Fund). The City Council approved using this money to provide programs and services for residents and local businesses in need (via rent and utility assistance and other programs) along with public health communications and facility upgrades to improve air cleaning and sanitizing systems in city buildings and venues. CARES Act money not yet spent was carried over to the FY 2021/22 budget.
In addition to AZCares funding, Scottsdale is also slated to receive $29.2 million in federal funds over two fiscal years from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). While the city has not yet determined how this money will be used, the FY 2021/22 budget includes spending authority for the first half of the city’s ARPA funding allocation ($14.6 million).
Capital Improvement Program
The FY 2021/22 Capital Improvement Program anticipates spending $284 million in critical capital infrastructure projects in a variety of areas. Voter-approved bond projects that strengthen city services, improve quality of life and support re-igniting the city’s economy will begin or be completed in the year ahead, including:
• Build a modern fire department training facility to ensure Scottsdale Fire personnel are best prepared to handle the full range of medical and emergency response needs in the community.
• Replace the outdated Police Department Computer Aided Dispatch and records management system.
• Expand Pima Road to six lanes from Pinnacle Peak Road to Happy Valley Road.
• Expand Happy Valley Road to four lanes from Pima Road to Alma School Road.
• And more (see website for more details).
Local residents can review the FY 2021/22 city budget and capital improvement programs at ScottsdaleAZ.gov by searching “budget.”