Phoenix seeks cash: A potential $500 million spending spree

By Jessica Boehm | Axios Phoenix

Phoenix is preparing to ask voters to approve $500 million for new parks, housing, cultural centers, police stations and more in its first bond election since 2006.

Why it matters: Bond elections, like this one planned for November 2023, are one of the most significant ways cities can invest in new buildings and infrastructure.

Previous bond elections have funded the Arizona State University downtown Phoenix campus, Burton Barr Central Library and new fire stations across the city.

  • Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told Axios the city has identified eight areas of focus for the 2023 bond program including public safety, housing, streets, economic development and arts and culture.

Driving the news: The city council voted last week to establish a General Obligation Bond Committee of more than 75 community leaders who will propose a list of projects to send to voters in 2023.

  • This was the first formal signal that the city plans to hold a bond election next year.

How it works: Unlike voter-approved sales-tax increases, like the Phoenix transportation one approved by voters in 2015, bonds don’t necessarily raise taxes for residents.

  • If a bond is approved, it allows the city to take out debt to fund projects. City leaders then structure the debt so that it can be paid off over time.
  • The city’s finance leaders told Axios they’re recommending a $500 million bond program for 2023, which will not require a tax increase.

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