Phoenix Will Put Real Estate Sales Returns Into General Fund During Pandemic
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Tuesday that the city will put all returns it earns from city real estate transactions into its general fund during the pandemic.
That includes $6.8M of transactions that originally came from the fund and will now be used to offset a budget deficit.
“We have not had to furlough any city employees as of yet,” Gallego said. “Our economic and sales tax return data comes about 45 days after the close of the month, so we will be constantly monitoring that information and making adjustments accordingly.”
Typically, city land is sold via projects that have existing funding, proceeds go back to related special programs or funds, not the general fund. The city's Finance Department will review all land sale transactions.
The mayor added that the city has also been attempting to streamline a sometimes cumbersome bureaucratic process for businesses affected by the coronavirus.
“We have officially launched a virtual city inspection program for basic inspections including gas line and sewer line work,” Gallego said during the webinar. “It is another way we can fight COVID-19 and maintain the efficiency of the city.”
The protection of jobs within the city was a common theme during the event.
With Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport nearly grinding to a halt, Gallego made a point of breaking down the 3,555 full-time capital improvement jobs currently at the airport, including exactly 1,800 jobs building the SkyTrain project.
Phoenix’s diverse contributions from its commercial real estate sector was also highlighted, from businesses like O.H.S.O. Brewery that went from bottling beer to bottling hand sanitizer, to the transformation of downtown Phoenix into a biotech hub.
The University of Arizona’s downtown Phoenix medical school campus made news last week when it allowed medical students to graduate early so they could help with the fight against the coronavirus.
“I hope voters are grateful for supporting bonds that allowed us to diversify our economy,” Gallego said. “We have more resources and revenue from the life sciences industry in downtown Phoenix, and a much more diverse economy now than in 2008, and that is intentional. We want to come out of this entire situation as safely as possible, with as much success as a city as possible.”
Gallego took questions from the audience and also announced the launching of Phoenix.gov/resources, a city of Phoenix website for job seekers, small businesses, nonprofit and arts organizations, senior citizens, families in need and disadvantaged students.