Opinion from Mayor Kevin Harkte originally appeared in the San Tan Sun News.
As we have now received actual revenue results for the first four months which were impacted by COVID-19 (March-June 2020), we are starting to see that the true impact of COVID-19 on our City’s General Fund budget has not been as significant as initially anticipated. Chandler’s diversified economic base and unique local economy has put us in a good position, with revenues coming in higher than expected.
The City anticipated a $10.5 million reduction in revenues for the March through June period which closed out the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-20, while the actual net impact was only $1.8 million.
Utilizing the actual COVID-19 revenue impact data in March-July to project COVID-19 revenue impacts in FY 2020-21, it inspires confidence that the budgeted $20 million expenditure reduction incorporated in the FY 2020-21 budget should cover anticipated COVID-19 revenue impacts for the entire year.
While we welcome the news that local businesses are doing better than we anticipated, we know there are still specific industries which are struggling more than others with the impacts of social distancing, reduced capacities and closures. We will continue to find innovative solutions to provide business support and resources.
Some of our current solutions include $10,000 grants to some of the most impacted businesses, reimbursements for PPE, advocating for Chandler businesses at the Governor’s office and communication of other regional resources.
Another area we are closely monitoring is the level of development in the City. Looking at the numbers for the last FY, we see that both the number and value of permits issued was up.
We have also seen that Arizona is faring better than the national average as far as unemployment, showing a decline in our rate since April. As the economy continues to open back up and people go back to work, we are expecting this rate to continue to decline.
The City continues to closely monitor revenues, scrutinize spending and maintain certain expenditure controls to be prepared should the economic environment change. We still have a ways to go, but we will get through this together.