By Mark Carlisle
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers touted the city’s successes during his annual State of the City address Thursday, March 7 in the ballroom of the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa, 9495 W. Coyotes Blvd.
Chief among the mayor’s boasts was Glendale’s economic turnaround. The city went from a negative general fund balance in the 2013-14 fiscal year to a balance of more than $40 million today. City staff projects the city will reach its long-time goal of a $50 million general fund balance by 2020.
“Glendale has done a complete 180-degree turnaround in the last five years. I’m so incredibly proud of that,” Mayor Weiers said. “And we’re committed to making smart financial decisions that make certain businesses are proud to be in Glendale and residents are proud to call Glendale home.”
The theme of his speech was “Everything’s coming up roses for Glendale.”
Mayor Weiers listed several of the city’s accomplishments in the past year, including the city’s S&P bond rating improving, the launching of the “Glendale Works” program, which gives homeless people an opportunity to work for pay and get connected to resources, breaking ground on the new Heroes Park Branch Library, which he said will open in June, adding a police officer to all nine of Glendale’s public high school campuses in response to school shootings across the U.S., renaming a segment of Bethany Home Road near State Farm Stadium to “Cardinals Way,” and Glendale’s fire department joining forces with Phoenix’s at Fire Station 154 at 43rd and Peoria avenues to better serve both cities.
The mayor echoed what other city officials have said for the past year, that once the city’s reserve fund reaches its $50 million goal — where Council and staff can be comfortable in the event of unforeseen expenses or another recession — it will allow the city to spend more of its annual surpluses on things like improving city streets, parks and public buildings rather than putting it into savings.
“While we’re immensely proud of all we’ve accomplished, make no mistake, we aren’t done yet. We’ve worked hard for years getting our finances in order, to allow us the capability to shape Glendale’s future,” Mayor Weiers said. “…We’re ready and we’re able to tackle important issues Glendale faces, one of those being our aging facilities. We understand that asset management is the key for us to maintain forward momentum that we’ve gained and we’re also committed to continuing preventative maintenance to make certain that our facilities last.”
Proof of the city’s commitment to maintaining its assets, the mayor said, can be seen through the pavement management plan that City Council fast-tracked and is about halfway through repairing, treating or replacing half of Glendale’s 750 miles of roadway.
One city asset the mayor did not mention was Glen Lakes Golf Course, which will close Sunday after Council determined it was not financially wise to spend millions to renovate the run-down city course. Councilmen Bart Turner and Jamie Aldama, the only dissenters on the vote, argued that Glen Lakes was an instance of Glendale neglecting one of its assets by not paying for maintenance over several decades.
In his speech, Mayor Weiers also indicated that the city’s parks would be a focus of capital injection. The mayor noted that Glendale has more parks per capita than any of its neighboring cities and said the city is “determined to make the funding match the needs.”
Mayor Weiers credited the city’s Economic Development office for drawing large amounts of development to Glendale, adding that the city has more than one million square feet of commercial, office or industrial space under construction with another seven million square feet somewhere in the pipeline of the approval process. Glendale also has 32 residential projects under construction or heading toward construction that total 3,300 new homes.
Mayor Weiers also thanked his fellow City Council members and City Manager Kevin Phelps for their contributions to improving the city.
The dinner event was sponsored by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.