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Phoenix voters pass $500 million GO bond program to improve public safety, quality of life, infrastructure

Phoenix voters passed all four parts of a ballot measure on Nov. 7 regarding a new general obligation bond program that the City says is worth up to $500 million, and the money will be used for various projects. 

General obligation (GO) bonds are municipal bonds that generally serve to subsidize public projects, and the repayment of interest is guaranteed using the revenue of projects created. Another way cities often repay these types of bonds is through raising property taxes, however the bond executive committee plan doesn’t call for increased taxes. 

The first part of the measure offers $214 million for public safety institutions. This includes building and updating four fire stations, replacing the Cactus Park Police Precinct and renovating the Maryvale Police Precinct. A portion of the money will also go towards decreasing 911 call response times by adding ambulances and fire trucks to existing departments. Another portion includes money for improving roadway and sidewalk infrastructure. 

“We will be able to fund critical infrastructure and rehabilitation needs of both aging City facilities and areas of rapid growth, with new and enhanced parks, libraries, fire and police stations, affordable housing, street improvements and more,” said City Manager Jeff Barton.

The second section of the GO bond calls for up to $108.6 million for quality-of-life improvements. Money will be  dedicated to recreational spaces, such as city parks and recreation centers, two new libraries, and preservation programs. This budget will also improve city facility compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act, and seek to mitigate heat by planting new trees and replacing old asphalt with new materials that trap less heat. 

“The programs reduce GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions, reduce the impacts of climate change, and urban heat on residents' health,” said USDA State Executive Director Ginger Torres. 

The third measure will devote $144.4 million to economic development, education and cultural buildings. Around $22 million of that amount will go to building a new Latino Cultural Center in District 7. 

“The community has been advocating for this project for years,” said District 7 Councilmember Betty Guardado. “I couldn’t be more excited to see their dreams come to fruition and all the work we as a commission put into the new center, pay off.” 

The last part of the measure devotes $63 million to affordable housing initiatives. A large portion of money from this proposal will fund the renovation of existing public housing and building new developments, as well as the construction of one new senior citizen housing location and the renovation of another. 

According to the Maricopa County Elections Office, all four questions passed with over 60% of voters voting in favor of  the bond initiatives in the Nov. 7 election. 

The executive committee stressed that its plan will not increase the property tax rate, and the city’s bond rating will not be hurt. The city plans for two bond sales, the first in 2024 and another in 2026. With an expected interest rate of 5%, the city believes the debt will be scrubbed by 2047.

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