By Steven Solomon
The Chandler City Council will adopt a tentative 2017-2018 budget on Thursday, May 25, and hold a meeting on Thursday, June 8, to adopt a final budget that will take effect on Saturday, July 1. Residents will have a chance to offer input a couple of times during the process.
According to Dawn Lang, management services director of the City Management Services Department, the most important thing residents should know about the City budget process is that they have a voice in the process, either by attending public meetings or contacting the City to share their ideas and concerns. Citizens can also call staff members directly.
“The City has just started the budget process, by conducting a budget survey and gathering budget funding requests for services and capital project needs from departments,” Lang said.
The survey of residents was conducted from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 last year and results are being summarized. She said the response, more than 1,270, exceeded expectations.
The total budget, for operating expenses and capital improvements, was $971.3 million for the last fiscal year, which was a 6.7% increase from the 2015-2016 budget.
“We do not anticipate big changes to the budget, but maintaining quality service levels in the most-cost effective manner,” Lang added. “Our capital program is planned out 10 years, therefore large projects are typically not a surprise in the upcoming year. They are planned well ahead and move up in the plan, although priorities may change based on citizen needs.”
Residents will have an opportunity to ask questions or give input about the budget, capital improvement and tax levy, Thursday, Feb. 23, when Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the City Council are hosting Budget Connect, an online forum where Chandler residents can ask questions and learn about the City’s budget and fiscal policies during a special live event that will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The mayor will moderate the event and answer submitted questions with City staff and City Council members.
“Budget Connect helps increase transparency and community interaction by allowing residents to ask questions, raise concerns and receive timely answers on a digital platform,” Lang said.
The Budget Connect webpage will open on Monday, Feb. 22, and the public can submit ideas, questions and input through Friday, March 4, at chandleraz.gov/connect. The online forum will be streamed in real time on the City website at www.chandleraz.gov and broadcast on the City’s cable station, Channel 11. During the event, City staff will monitor the following social media accounts using the hashtag #budgetconnect:
While the public is welcome to attend the event at the City Council Chambers, 88 E. Chicago St., the City is encouraging residents to engage in the live forum by connecting online or on social media.
There will also be an all-day budget briefing starting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 28, as well as a public hearing, 7 p.m. Thursday, June 8, in the Council Chambers.
Additional information about the City’s budget survey, process and meetings is available online at chandleraz.gov/budget.