Mesa Voters Have Say In City's Financial Future

By Mariana Dale
Published: Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - 3:33pm

Mesa voters will have the chance to impact the city’s financial future through questions on the ballot this fall.

Residents must register to vote in the Nov. 6 election by Oct. 9.

There will be six financial measures for Mesa voters to consider in November:

Public Safety Sales Tax Increase

A proposed quarter of a percent sales tax increase would raise an estimated $25 million a year for Mesa’s police and fire departments. About 40 percent would go toward fire and medical needs and 60 percent toward police operations. City documents estimate the tax increase would support 65 police positions and 45 fire and medical positions by fiscal year 2022. The city’s current sales tax is 1.75 percent.

Bond: Parks and Cultural Projects

Voters will consider allowing Mesa to issue up to $111 million in bonds to build and renovate libraries, museums, parks and other cultural facilities. Paying back the bond, which is essentially a loan, would cost the average Mesa homeowner $24 a year in secondary property taxes.

Bond: Public Safety Projects

Mesa has outlined $85 million in public safety projects including police and fire stations and an evidence facility. The city estimates the median homeowner would pay $19 in secondary property taxes to support the bond.

Sporting complex proposal

The city has proposed building a $55 million sports and events complex that could include fields and a multi-purpose facility. The space at 80th Street and Brown Road would designed to enhance youth and recreational sporting opportunities in Mesa. The proposal relies on a 1 percent hotel bed tax increase and the city’s bond ask.

Hotel bed tax increase

This proposal would increase the tax rate on Mesa hotels, known as a bed tax from 5 percent to 6 percent starting in March 2019. The proceeds from the hike would support the city’s proposal to build a sport and events complex.

Alternative expenditure limitation, also known as the “home rule”

Arizona law requires cities to adopt balanced budgets where the the amount of money spent does not exceed resources available. There are a few instances where the law allows an exception, one of them is called home rule, which Mesa has utilized since 2000. This policy allows the city to set its own limits for expenditures for a four-year period. Without voter approval, the city’s current approval expires in June 2019 and Mesa could lose millions of dollars in state income tax as a penalty for exceeding its expenditures.

Mesa voters rejected a sales tax increase in 2016 that would have funded public safety and ASU’s expansion to the city’s downtown.