Surprise Council: FY15 budget good to go, Surprise OKs FY15 budget page 2 06/03/14
The Mayor and Council also thanked city employees, who will receive merit raises in FY15 for the first time since 2007. “Our employees have been fantastic and deserve support,” Wolcott said.
Among other highlights, the Council budgeted improvements at Surprise Farms and Veramonte Parks that total more than $2.5 million. The City’s Recreation Advisory Commission has already set a June 18 joint meeting with the Surprise Farms HOA to consider specific improvements at Surprise Farms.
The Council plans to fund a $15 million expansion of team clubhouses and public facilities at Surprise Stadium in FY15, after staff reported the expansion could be financed without adding to the budget, due in part to the City’s improved credit ratings.
The Council approved a lower primary property tax levy rate of 75.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The current rate is 77.8 cents. Primary property taxes will generate the same amount as in previous years, roughly $6.5 million, according to the City’s Finance Department.
There are no tax increases in the FY15 budget.
The budget projects a $29 million General Fund balance by June 30, 2014. $14.9 million of the surplus will constitute the two-month General Fund reserve, fulfilling a Council goal to have the reserve restored by June 30 of this year.
Even after budgeting for long-overdue civic improvements in FY15, the budget projects a balance of $27 million by June 30, 2015.
Mayor Sharon Wolcott said the Council has kept its promise to restore the City’s finances and is pursuing an aggressive agenda of civic improvements and job creation. “This budget represents the Surprise of today: a successful city with a community-supported vision for the future,” she said. “Now, it’s full speed ahead.”
Economic Development and employee increases
Economic development efforts will receive assistance ranging from additional ED personnel to improvements at the City’s showcase AZTechCelerator program, an award-winning business incubator near Bell and El Mirage roads. “Creating white-collar jobs in Surprise will continue to be our top priority,” Wolcott said.
Some of the public improvements in the tentative budget include:
Surprise Stadium team and public improvements $15,000,000
In-Ground Skate Park $500,000
Boys and Girls Club in east Surprise $2,000,000
Improved Drainage to 107th Avenue/Union Hills $2,428,000
Linking Mt. View Blvd. to Grand Avenue $300,000
Competitive youth Sports Programs $250,000
Median and ROW landscaping $300,000
Park ‘N Ride enhancements $1,686,300
Surprise Farms Park improvements $1,686,300
Veramonte Park Improvements $948,000
Dial a Ride Expansion $75,000
The Council funded Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Police and Fire represented employees, retaining the current Fire pay plan.
The budget includes a 1.3% cost of living increase for all general employees and a merit increase for employees effective July 1, 2014.
The total cost of employee pay increases is approximately $6 million.
Surprise Stadium Improvements
The proposed $15 million improvement at Surprise Stadium helped the City reach agreement with the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, who told the Council in April they would extend their lease through the 8-10 year refinance period as a way of demonstrating commitment to Surprise.