Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon to talk about issues such as the new city budget that could include a tax hike.
Video: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon" -- Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton talks about property taxes and city budgets and we'll hear about life as a parents of a child with down syndrome. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."
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Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Arizona joins several other states in suing the Obama administration over a directive allowing students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. State Attorney General Mark Brnovich says the order is a federal over reach and unconstitutional adding President Obama has no business setting bathroom and locker room policies for our schools. The decision of how best to protect boys and girls' privacy while balancing these complicated issues is best made locally, not by some knee jerk decree from Washington.
Ted Simons: The city of Phoenix is closing it on a new budget but the spending plan depends on the city council approving property tax increase, and that could prove problematic. Here now is Phoenix ayor Greg Stanton, who joins us each month to discuss city issues. I want to get to the budget and the property tax thing in a second. First the state filing suit on the transgender bathroom issue. Your response.
Greg Stanton: our Attorney General is on the wrong side of the law. And the wrong side of history by challenging this very important civil rights issue, civil rights decision by the add my station. Look. I saw the screen as it was put up there with the words the Attorney General virtually the same words used by many after the civil rights act of 1964 was passed. Many of the same arguments were made at the Supreme Court issued its order marriage between gay couples will be legal. This is the next step in civil rights protections in this case for LGBt or transgender students. Every student has a right to get an education free of intimidation, free of bullying in the most comfortable environment possible. I demand that for kids whom happen to be transgender. That's what the administration is trying to say is every student has that right. Our Attorney General I think is on the wrong side.
Ted Simons: The governor would be as well, the state superintendent of public instruction. Arizona for -- they say we need to talk common sense and protection in school bath rooms and locker rooms.
Greg Stanton: if you study history, and I know you have, they had no civil rights at one time, the act was not very popular. If you were to put it to a public vote it probably wouldn't have passed. It doesn't mean it was the right thing to do to enforce what our constitution demands, equal treatment under the law. Protecting citizens of Phoenix in-housing, employment and public accommodation. Some people have been very critical of that. That ordinance has been great. Not just for the beneficiaries that have their civil rights protected but to send a message we welcome everyone. That's another important ethic of the United States of next. We bring everyone to the table including and especially those who are in minority status. Including our gay, lesbian and transgender students and residents. They deserve full protection. This is an important act and if you're having it conversation a decade ago you won't find many people who will admit they weren't on the side of transgender equality. I think the Attorney General is on the wrong side legally and on the wrong side of history.
Ted Simons: we'll have the Attorney General in studio tomorrow to talk about this and other issues. Let's talk about your spending plan, budget. 1.2 some odd billion dollars here. Thoughts.
Greg Stanton: our public budget, the budget that was just voted on by a majority are the constituent council, is great for public safety. During the worst of the economic times we had to asked our police officers and firefighters to sacrifice. They took significant compensation reductions. Their job wasn't any less safe. They sacrifice because they love the city, they love the people of the city. Now is the time to restore that compensation. Police officers and firefighters are going to get back the compensation they gave up during the worst economic times. Firefighters will now have improved electronic equipment to do medical records so we spend less time on paperwork and more time helping people in need. Police officers are going to get body cameras. Every single patrol officer will get one. It was hotly debated.
Ted Simons: some say it's better spent for more officers.
Greg Stanton: look, if you want to juxtapose anything in that $1.2 billion budget against police officers you could do so. Senior centers, libraries, youth centers. If you want to play that game you can. As mayor you have to make sure all of the interests of the citizens of Phoenix are protected including seniors and youth. Our parks department. To make sure our police officers as they do the job can do it as safely as possible. Body cameras make our officers safer, and it's my obligation as mayor to stand up and do the right thing. It's not inexpensive but it's the right thing to do for the public and the police officers.
Ted Simons: budget assumes a property tax increase, correct?
Greg Stanton: well, it assumes that we float the rate and so during times when property values are down it does involve a slight increase. During the best of the economic times we can have a decrease so it does go up and down.
Ted Simons: I'm hearing $51 more per year for the average homeowner.
Greg Stanton: that vote will be on July 1. If we move forward with floating the tax rate like Maricopa County does, like almost every other city in the valley does, it will bring stability to our budget, improve our credit rating. It will be credit positive for the city. These are not easy decisions. substantively, politically or both. As mayor of the city I need to do what I consider the right thing, making sure our police officers and firefighters get that workers' compensation back is the right thing to do. Body cams are the right thing to do. Stabilizing our budget is the right thing to do.
Ted Simons: can you do the right thing and not raise property taxes. $60 million surplus. The city is flush with money, highest revenues in city history. This floating increase is not needed.
Greg Stanton: it's a complicated issue. Our best shot in this format, that is during the best of the economic times when property values were high we banked a lot of resources. As the budget times got worse, as the economy has gotten worse we did not increase property taxes at all. In fact they went down almost 50% to city of Phoenix homeowners. People took a significant tax reduction. If we were to pass it would only be a slight increase, not nearly what it was when property values were at their height. But the balance has gotten to a point where we can't rely on subsidizing if you will lower property taxes with the existing balance. It's a long explanation but the city is a fiscally well run city. We have the highest credit rating of the top six cities in America. As mayor I'm going to keep that up. I have to do what's important for the city.
Ted Simons: councilman wearing says it's a water in the, sales tax increase, property tax increase in the span of one year.
Greg Stanton: I respect his opinion but look you have a city of Phoenix which is considered around the country one of the best fiscally run cities in the United States of America. It was important our police officers and firefighters get that compensation back. Everyone in Washington the least we could do is make sure their compensation gets restored that they sacrificed. I think people watching understand how important it is our officers get body cameras. So if you want to do local government on the cheap, not be willing to make tough decisions we would have to cut almost $40 million out of our budget. I would challenge the councilor to come up with $40 million in cuts. I have yet to see it
Ted Simons: The vice mayor Gallegos says there might be other avenues.
Greg Stanton: I'm keeping an open heart and open mind. I work closely with city management in terms of what we should do to best stabilize our budget, give restoration to police officers and firefighters. What we can do to best pay for the body cameras for our police officers and firefighters. Vice mayor Gallegos is an incredibly smart leader. I'm willing to listen to any ideas she has. We'll vote on this July 1. When I come back we'll probably have a resolution. We can discuss it further. But as mayor, I'm going to make sure that we have appropriately compensated public safety officers. They have the equipment that they need. We'll be strong on public safety and occasionally make tough budget decisions. But what we would be doing in floating that rate is what Maricopa County does, what virtually every city in the valley does. They do it because it best stabilizes their budget, gives them the highest credit rating. Phoenix would be smart to at least look at that.
Ted Simons: would using the tourism sales tax fund be an option with the idea you're actively pursuing hockey teams, basketball teams, the whole nine yards their.
Greg Stanton: not good budgeting practice. If you have created a sports arena fund, funded by revenues from hotel tax and car rental tax, to then divert that to another purpose. If one of your goals is to be one. highest credit rated cities in the entire country which represents how fiscally well managed you are, if you start taking funds for one put and diverting them to another the credit rating agency says that's not smart fiscal management. I'm not in favor of diverting funds created for a certain pup and switching it to a different purpose.
Ted Simons: before we go, tomorrow is the funeral for the officer, fallen officer. Quickly, I see you got the badge there. Difficult situation.
Greg Stanton: it's a very sad time for the city and the family that is Phoenix law enforcement officer had an outstanding record. Officer glasser was well respected in the community. He was on a net team at the time of the shooting. I talked about Chief Yanner. He said after speaking to his commander and his colleagues, he's just one of the most well respected officers on our force. Today they had a car wash yesterday, Phoenix law enforcement association that raised incredible amounts of money because the community came together. He just love police officers and law enforcement. Tomorrow will be a very important day. If you have an opportunity you're invited. It's an open funeral, to see the wall of blue. Officers from Phoenix, all the jurisdictions around the County, state and the country come to pay honor to officers glasser, what he did for the citizens of Phoenix. It's an awe inspiring thing for me to see as mayor. Phoenix police and law enforcement association will wrap their arms around his kin, his wife, his young children, and they will never leave them. I have seen it time and time again, when you're part of the Phoenix law enforcement family they will always be well taken care of, something I'm incredibly proud of.
Ted Simons: Mayor, thanks for joining us.
Greg Stanton: thank you.
Greg Stanton: Phoenix Mayor