From the booming downtown development scene to new retailers at the Americana at Brand and Glendale Galleria, there are plenty of positives to highlight in Glendale, but there are also looming problems that could take the wind out of the city’s sails, Mayor Dave Weaver said at the annual State of the City luncheon Thursday.
Weaver was referring to two separate lawsuits aiming to end the annual transfer of tens of millions of dollars from Glendale Water & Power to the city’s General Fund that pays for police and other general services as well as a proposed ballot measure to repeal the utility users tax, which also supports the General Fund.
“They’ll be destroying the city if these measures go through,” Weaver said, calling the repeal of the utility users tax “deadly” as it would cut $27 million from the city’s roughly $170-million General Fund budget.
Supporters of the ballot measure have gathered thousands of signatures to get the item on the June ballot, but those must still be verified by county election officials before the measure moves forward. The lawsuits, which compare the transfers to a backdoor tax since ratepayers are being charged more than the cost of their utility use, were filed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 — which represents the utility’s union members — and a citizens group, Glendale Coalition for Better Government, earlier this year.
If the lawsuits and tax repeal are successful, Weaver said at the Chamber of Commerce event, many of the city’s departments will be virtually eliminated.
“I’m not just standing up here and shooting hot wind at you,” he said. “That will happen.”
Weaver also encouraged the roughly 600 people in attendance at the Hilton Glendale to support new tax measures the city has been reviewing. The Glendale City Council turned down placing a new tax measure on the June ballot earlier this year because a citywide survey showed there wasn’t enough voter support.
“It just shows the public is not educated on various matters,” Weaver said, noting that those surveyed also rejected increasing the city’s transient occupancy tax, which would only impact hotel users and shoot millions of dollars of new revenue into the city’s coffers.
Despite the challenges ahead, Weaver said the city must continue to grow, even as critics complain about increasing traffic and other impacts of new residential development. Glendale has more than 3,800 downtown apartment units either completed, under construction or in the pipeline.
“If we stagnate, we’re dead in the water,” he said.
At the luncheon, the Chamber of Commerce honored several people with awards, including:
- Young Professional of the Year: Taguhi Sogomonyan of Pogosyan Corp.
- Community Partner of the Year: Glendale Assn. of Realtors
- Business Project of the Year: Downtown Glendale Assn.
- Business of the Year: Glendale Galleria
- Man of the Year: Eric Hamilton of Crescenta Valley Insurance
- Woman of the Year: Elissa Glickman of Glendale Arts/Alex Theatre