|City Manager Brandon Buchanan discusses the home rule option with the Williams Rotary Club on Aug. 7. Ryan Williams/WGCN|
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - With the Aug. 26 primary election fast approaching, Williams City Manager Brandon Buchanan is reminding voters of the importance of choosing to allow city officials to set city spending limitations as opposed to having to abide by state determined limits.
Buchanan visited the Williams Rotary Club on Aug. 7 to discuss the alternative expenditure limitation proposition that will appear on the primary ballot.
Also known as the home rule option, the alternative expenditure limitation would allow the city to determine how much money it can spend in the next four years based on how much revenue would be available. The home rule option is not a new tax and does not change existing tax rates.
"We go through this every four years to allow budgeting to continue at the local level instead of being determined by the state of Arizona," Buchanan said.
Williams voters have approved the home rule option every four years since 1990. This summer the item is up for renewal for the next four years, starting with fiscal year 2015-2016.
If voters do not approve the home rule option, the city would have to follow state imposed spending limitations.
The limitations are based on a formula that starts with the city's expenditures in 1979-1980 and takes into account population changes, inflation and estimated exclusions.
"Based on population strictly like it is it creates some problems," Buchanan said. "As you guys know in our town it's tourism based. We have 3,000 people here but in the summertime we can be serving twice that many."
If voters approve the home rule option, the city estimates it would be allowed to spend the following amounts in the next four years, based on the estimated revenue that will be available: $20,524,880 in 2015-2016, $20,868,492 in 2016-2017, $21,220,580 in 2017-2018, and $21,581,371 in 2018-2019.
If voters do not approve the home rule option, the city will have to follow state-imposed expenditure limits. This would restrict spending to about $10,928,072 in 2015-2016, $11,127,617 in 2016-2017, $11,254,817 in 2017-2018, and $11,136,671 in 2018-2019.
"So you can imagine the difference that makes in our ability to provide services to the community," Buchanan said. "And that's everything that the city does, whether that's roads, recreation, water, everything."
The home rule option would grant the city expenditure authority for all local budgetary purposes, including operation and maintenance of current services. This includes general government operations, culture and recreation, public safety, health and welfare, debt service, economic development, highways and streets, electric system, water and sewer system, sanitation services, golf course and airport, public safety and community development block grants.
"You start looking at the budget and you start looking at what some of these departments cost just on a normal year...and we get to $20 million real quick," Buchanan said. "If you cut it down in half, you're looking at all kinds of service cuts."
With the change in election times from spring to fall this year, Buchanan encouraged voters to check both sides of their ballots so they don't miss any of the city voting items, particularly the home rule option.
"So our home rule, the thing that probably is more important to the daily live of the people that live here than who the governor down in Phoenix is, gets pushed way to the back," he said. "Part of what I'm here to do is encourage you guys to get all the way to the back of the ballot and make sure you do get to vote on this issue."