Queen Creek voters to decide if town can set budget or follow state limit

(File Photo by Miguel Otárola/Cronkite News)

Queen Creek voters will have the opportunity to vote on the Alternative Expenditure Limitation on the Tuesday, Aug. 28 ballot.

The Alternative Expenditure Limitation measure is called “Home Rule” because the issue can be decided by voters at the local level, according to a press release.

Home Rule is part of the Arizona Constitution and regulates the spending of cities, towns, counties and community college districts based on state-imposed limitations.

The formula for the limitation takes the Town’s 1979-80 expenditure level, which is estimated because the town was not officially incorporated until 1989, and multiples that level by a population and inflation factor, a release states.

Home Rule is not about revenues. Instead, Home Rule limits the town’s ability to spend money. Home Rule is also not a new tax. It allows the Town to create a balanced budget and spend revenues collected on priorities identified by the Town Council.

A “yes” vote means residents are voting for the Home Rule renewal, which permits the town to set its budget at the local level. This allows for flexibility and local control to address Town priorities and needs.

It means the town can spend the revenues collected for projects and services as prioritized in the town’s balanced budget.

A “no” vote means residents are voting against the Home Rule renewal, and the town will be required to operate under significantly lower state-imposed budget limitations (approximately 25 percent of the town’s projected Fiscal Year 2019/20 budget).

If the Home Rule renewal does not pass, the state-imposed formula will require a substantial cut to the town’s budget, despite it having available revenues. The cut would result in reducing, and in some cases eliminating, town programs and services.

For example, the town has a projected budget of $167.6 million for FY 2019/20. If the Home Rule renewal does not pass, the state’s formula would dictate the town budget could not exceed $41.6 million, a $126 million reduction.

The town would not be able to spend the revenue collected beyond the state-imposed limit, even if the town council determines there is a need for roads, fire, parks or any other purpose.

Once the state-imposed limit is set, the town cannot exceed that limit, despite having additional revenues available.

For town residents living in Maricopa County, the local Alternative Expenditure Limitation item will be listed on the ballot as Proposition 407. For Town residents living in Pinal County, the local Alternative Expenditure Limitation item will appear on the ballot as Proposition 424.

Home Rule is valid for four years; the previous Home Rule ballot measure passed in 2014 and is effective through June 30, 2019.

The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

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