by Lauren Tolmachoff, Vice Mayor, City of Glendale
As I reflect on my first term as a Glendale City Council member, it is hard to believe that just a few years ago, The Wall Street Journal cited Glendale as the nation’s second most financially troubled municipality. As the economy became worse, the city’s long-term debt and financial mismanagement were cited in a series of bond rating downgrades beginning in early 2011.
Today, Glendale is thriving and has an incredible amount of positive momentum. Our bond rating has increased steadily since 2015, most recently receiving a AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, saving taxpayers nearly $72 million in long-term debt. That is real money that will be available to improve the lives of our residents in the future. With the recent commitments of a luxury BMW Dealership, IKEA and many others to locate in Glendale, the city is well on the way to fiscal sustainability, and working toward a vision for the future.
The goal of a reserve fund balance equal to 25 percent of annual ongoing revenues ($50 million) should be achieved by fiscal year 2020.
The Sports and Entertainment District is flourishing. Under the professional management of AEG Worldwide, Gila River Arena is profitable. Due to a profit-sharing agreement with AEG, Glendale’s operational cost was under $4 million last year.
Westgate continues to expand and offer new entertainment options.
Midwestern University continues to grow and be a catalyst for economic development. A Physical Therapy Institute recently opened, and the first College of Veterinary Medicine class will graduate in May. Midwestern has invested $425 million in Glendale and is the largest medical school in the state with 40 percent of its graduates remaining in Arizona to practice.
Furthering our commitment to enhance Glendale’s pro-business culture, Councilwoman Joyce Clark, Councilman Ray Malnar and I are establishing a council business subcommittee. Members will include representatives from a small woman-owned business, both a medium and large business, a designer/engineer/architectural professional, a commercial and residential developer. This committee will cut red tape and increase efficiency at City Hall for businesses wishing to open or expand in Glendale.
This council has established improving our streets as an immediate priority. Recently a $77 million pavement management plan was approved and is underway. This five-year plan will address every street in the city when completed.
Glendale was the first Valley city to complete the LED conversion of all streetlights. LEDs are longer-lasting, require less maintenance and use 4 million less kilowatt hours, which will save about $674,000 annually. In addition to the savings, Arizona Public Service presented Glendale with a rebate check totaling $431,794.99 through the Solutions for Business Program.
While the good news keeps coming, there is still much work to do. We are committed to making fiscally responsible decisions, being a good partner with our business community and moving Glendale forward to ensure a prosperous future for our wonderful city.