Chandler residents can impact city spending decisions

Dec. 5, 2023
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Communications and Public Affairs
Resident Budget Survey feedback will help Chandler City Council align 2024-2025 fiscal year expenditures with community values

The process for creating an operating budget for a municipality like Chandler requires city staff to evaluate and factor in a wide range of local, state and national data, such as: sales tax and property tax revenues, utility fees, bonds, impact fees, grants, debt service, reserve requirements, legislative action, staff levels, employee compensation, public feedback and much more. It’s a year-long process full of challenges that, to the city’s budget staff, might feel like doing a jigsaw puzzle while balanced on a basketball and juggling cats.

And when all the pieces come together, as they have for Chandler in recent years, it results in a reputation for sound fiscal policies and discipline, low taxes, and some of the lowest costs of residential services of any major city in the Valley. It is no accident that the City of Chandler is known as one of the best-run cities in the state and one of the few nationally to earn the highest AAA rating levels from all three major bond rating agencies. It takes a committed team to make it happen.

The creation of the 2024-2025 Fiscal Year Budget and the 2025-2034 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is underway, and Chandler is asking the public to participate by completing the annual Resident Budget Survey online from Nov. 27 through Jan. 12, 2024.

“The budget survey is one of the first opportunities residents have to shape the city’s annual budget by sending a message to the Mayor and Council and city staff about what their priorities should be,” said Deputy Director Matt Dunbar, who oversees fiscal policy and budget development. “Their feedback – what residents appreciate about the city or the concerns they have – helps us to fine-tune funding allocations and align Chandler’s spending with our fiscal and community values.”

This year’s survey is similar to previous ones, with 15 questions related to six areas of focus chosen by the City Council: Economic Vitality, Sustainability and Technology, Connectivity, Neighborhoods, Quality of Life, and Community Safety. Each question also has a comment box for participants to share specific suggestions, concerns or support for what the city is doing well. The survey will be available in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

A recent example of the City Council utilizing budget survey feedback to reallocate funding and adjust project construction schedules can be found at Tumbleweed Park. “In consecutive surveys we were hearing a consistent voice from the public; that the number and quality of youth softball fields needed to increase,” Dunbar recalled. “Members of the Council championed this issue and we were able to add field improvements into the budget for existing fields, and we fast-tracked the design and construction of the new softball complex at Tumbleweed Park. Budget survey feedback from residents spurred us to move faster to address this issue.”

The city’s goal is to boost survey participation this year through social media outreach, newspaper coverage, advertising and outreach videos from the Mayor and City Council members. More than 1,300 online surveys were submitted last year, and Dunbar hopes to greatly increase that number this year.

In addition to the online survey, there will be several other ways the public can share their opinions with the City Council. At any time, feedback can be submitted through a comment form at The first of three budget workshops will be held on Feb. 8, followed by two more in March. Then, an extensive review of the proposed budget and CIP will be held in an all-day briefing to Council on April 26. The 2024-25 Fiscal Year Budget and CIP will be tentatively adopted on May 23, with a public hearing and final adoption on June 13. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2024.

“Learning about the budget is really one of the best ways to understand what your city does, why they do it and where the money comes from.” Dunbar added, “We want Chandler residents to be confident that we’re utilizing their tax dollars efficiently to provide the services necessary to maintain our excellent quality of life.”

This article also appeared in the Nov. 19, 2023 edition of the SanTan Sun News.