Fiscal responsibility creates opportunity and a future of innovation

Nov. 19, 2019
| by:
Councilmember Mark Stewart

As a Community of Innovation, the City of Chandler is constantly looking for ways to provide best-in-class services at the lowest cost possible. Many Mayor and Councils prior to my tenure focused on building a financially stable and sound community. Through community input, Chandler is able to continue this strategy of financial prudence and priority-based spending. With input from our citizens we are able to guide our budget planning year after year, while maintaining our quest to be the best city in America.

The City of Chandler is currently in the process of preparing the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Budget and the 2021-2030 Capital Improvement Plan – what we call CIP. This is the process of planning and prioritizing how and when we build roads, replace pipes or build new parks.  

We have always taken a collaborative approach in the budget preparation process with residents of Chandler to create a budget that reflects the needs of our growing community.  Since Chandler is fortunate enough to have an involved community, each year we receive good input on our annual budget surveys. The survey results provide Mayor and Council and City staff guidance on how to improve quality of life. It is a big reason why Chandler is such a great place to live. 

Mayor and Council are your eyes and ears to the City, and we are committed to ensuring our fiscal policies promote economic growth and long term sustainability. The City’s strong financial reserves, prudent debt management practices and structurally balanced approach has made us one of only 40 communities across the nation that holds AAA General Obligation bond ratings with all three bond rating agencies.  In other words, we have “good credit” and extremely low interest rates when we use bonds to build roads, parks or infrastructure projects, such as the recent

. All of this strict financial planning helps us keep our property taxes low and still provide great service. 

Years of adherence to solid financial policies have resulted in strong economic development, quality public safety and well-built infrastructure. As the economy has experienced its longest period of growth in history, there are predictions of a national downturn in our future. Maintaining infrastructure, a high standard of service and an excellent quality of life for our residents is at the forefront of our priorities. We continue to plan for the future by closely monitoring State legislation that may affect local funding, attracting a wide range of businesses and maintaining healthy reserves. 

Chandler continuously looks for innovative ways to improve services without raising taxes. Currently, the City is undergoing a Priority Based Budgeting process that inventories and costs all services provided.  Chandler may have some of the best financial staff in the nation that ensure if we build something like a park or a road, that we have sustainable income to support the maintenance of those projects. It is one thing to build a park, it is entirely another type of cost to run it year-after-year. 

We are consistently implanting systems that improve our customer service levels or make doing business with the City easier. This summer we launched an autonomous vehicle ride-hailing program with Waymo to evaluate employee productivity while commuting to and from off-site work meetings and potentially create fleet services cost savings. This is innovation!

Public Safety Training Facility

With your help, Chandler will continue to pioneer ways to keep Chandler safe, vibrant and thriving, while remaining flexible to implement innovative solutions to meet citizen expectations. We will continue to deliver technology, facilities and training, preparing our first responders to handle emergencies. Moreover, we will continue to invest in the training and technology throughout the city and ensure our Police and Fire departments remain the best in the business. Our parks, libraries and recreational facilities create active gathering spaces to enjoy in our community, learn with others and form memorable experiences. Investments and maintenance of transportation, water and development infrastructure, protect the vitality of our community.  

What does this mean?  It means we are committed to providing the best customer service in the State without requiring higher taxes. 

It all starts with community input during this budget process, and I encourage you to learn more about how to get involved by visiting Chandler Budget and share your innovative ideas.

This article appeared in the Nov. 16, 2019 edition of the SanTan Sun News.