Public safety: No. 1 priority for Apache Junction budget

The Apache Junction Police Department is the top funding priority in the 2019-20 budget. (AJPD)

Law enforcement — from patrol cars to uniformed officers and animal control — is the top funding priority in the City of Apache Junction’s 2019-20 budget, as it was the previous five years.

The $11.5 million public-safety section in the budget includes an increase of more than $950,000 over the previous fiscal year’s expenses. Some of the increase is for remodeling the police dispatch center and adding a full-time sergeant in investigations, according to city records.

Jeff Struble

“The city strives to provide for the three purposes of government, which are public safety, public welfare and to promote economic development for our citizens and businesses,” Apache Junction Councilman Jeff Struble said.

“The budget that has been presented to us does these things for the citizens of our community. It also promotes our businesses and the visitors that will come to us to enjoy our surroundings and what we have to offer to them,” he said.

The adoption of the fiscal year 2019-20 final budget is slated to be voted on at a meeting that begins at 7 p.m. Monday, June 17, in the council chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd.

2019-20 budget

Funding sources for 2019-20 include the city’s sales tax — 2.4% total, with .2% of it earmarked for transportation uses only, an estimated $1,080,000, and the remainder generating $13,637,245; licenses and permits, $721,045; state-shared revenues, $5,365,520; and court fines, $525,000.

Total budgeted General Fund expenditures for fiscal year 2019-20 — such as the mayor and city council, to the city manager, the library and public safety — are $30,904,810.

The planned expenditures of the top five departments funded for fiscal year 2019-20 are:

  • $11,576,325 for public safety — including support services, patrol services, investigations, animal control. AJPD provides law enforcement and other services for the 36 square miles in city boundaries, which encompass 176 miles of city roadway. Apache Junction has one police station, at 1001 N. Idaho Road, for its 95 staff members. Of those, 56 are full-time and sworn, with a badge and the power to arrest; 36 are full-time and non-sworn and three are part-time and non-sworn, police said.
  • $4,418,705 for parks and recreation, broken into administration, recreation and parks. The Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department, with offices at 1035 N. Idaho Road, provides diverse recreational programs and a system of parks, trails and recreational facilities, according to ajcity.net.
  • $2,753,850 for management services, including human resources, economic development, information technology and marketing/communication.
  • $2,545,325 for public works, including operations, fleet maintenance and graffiti abatement. The Public Works Department is made up of four divisions — building maintenance, engineering, fleet and operations — with offices at 575 E. Baseline Ave. It is responsible for the construction and maintenance of all city streets, traffic signals, street lights and signs; purchase and maintenance of all city vehicles; maintenance of all city buildings; and also the graffiti control program, Adopt A Street program, the management of city surplus property and the city’s household hazardous waste events, according to the city’s website.
  • $1,965,405 for the library, 1177 N. Idaho Road, which has programs and events that are free and anyone may attend regardless of library membership.
The Apache Junction Public Library is at 1177 N. Idaho Road. Go to ajpl.org. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

The library is open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and closed Sundays, but the hours may increase, officials said recently.

Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy and City Manager Bryant Powell said May 2 that there are plans to add hours to the library.

The library will stay open later Mondays and Wednesdays with the budgeted hiring of a part-time library page, according to city documents.

Councilman Struble sees the 2019-20 budget adhering to the city’s stated vision.

“The city needs to continue to focus on our vision which has been put forth for our citizens. The vision is, ‘Apache Junction is a diverse community of natural beauty and heritage that offers prosperity, compassion and forward-thinking to its residents, businesses and visitors,’” he said.

Apache Junction resident JR Robinson says public safety — including support services, patrol services, investigations, animal control — should be a priority.

“Yes, I do agree public safety should be front and center. A J. Police could spend the day writing speeding tickets on West 16th between Idaho and Ironwood. It’s all residential from Idaho to Monterey. Same on Broadway,” Mr. Robinson said.

Vice Mayor Chip Wilson (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“Overall it is a fully balanced budget and have some emergency funds in case of some unexpected event occurring. And with this budget, we — the council — are working on strengthening the city operations and services,” Vice Mayor Chip Wilson said.

“For the police department, which is and always is the biggest budgeted item because it is the most important service to our community, we have planned a new police sergeant position as well as remodeling the much-needed Dispatch Center. This is something that has been put off for years and now is the time to improve,” Vice Mayor Wilson said.

The budget also includes increased wages for City of Apache Junction employees, he said.

“We are also increasing the employees pay and benefits, by 2.5%, to keep our employees here in Apache Junction. This keeps us in competition with our neighboring communities and decreases costly turnover,” Vice Mayor Wilson said.

2018-19 budget

Documents detailing the municipal budgets are at ajcity.net/78/Current-Budget-Information.

In 2018-19, the general fund set aside $28,900,895 for departments, with an estimated $26,937,224 in actual expenditures. The expenditures of the top five departments funded were:

  • $10,617,840 for public safety.
  • $4,322,850 for parks and recreation.
  • $2,244,340 for management services.
  • $1,868,980 for public works.
  • $1,679,925 for the library.

Previous budget years

In 2017-18, the general fund had an estimated $26,944,600 in actual expenditures, according to city records. The expenditures of the top five departments funded were:

  • $10,801,530 for public safety.
  • $4,094,755 for parks and recreation.
  • $2,413,915 for management services.
  • $1,730,255 for library.
  • $1,697,250 for public works.

In 2016-17, the general fund had an estimated $26,109,860 in actual expenditures. The expenditures of the top five departments funded were:

  • $10,378,065 for public safety.
  • $3,848,290 for parks and recreation.
  • $2,361,790 for management services.
  • $1,846,650 for public works.
  • $1,812,850 for library.

In 2015-16, the general fund had an estimated $24,729,725 in actual expenditures. The expenditures of the top five departments funded were:

  • $10,068,800 for public safety.
  • $3,481,070 for parks and recreation.
  • $2,443,225 for management services.
  • $1,792,255 for library.
  • $1,355,905 for public works.

In 2014-15, the general fund had an estimated $24,419,465 in actual expenditures. The expenditures of the top five departments funded were:

  • $8,839,200 for public safety
  • $3,294,545 for parks and recreation
  • $2,291,740 for management services.
  • $1,923,740 for general government operations, such as electricity, gas, water, lighting districts, street lighting and wastewater treatment utilities; and property insurance and liability deductible.
  • $1,794,930 for public works.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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