Williams voters pass home rule allowing city to set budget

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — On Aug. 28, Williams residents voted to pass the home rule option allowing the city to set its own spending limitations rather than allowing the state to govern its spending.

The home rule option, also known as alternative expenditure limitation, allows the city to determine how much money it can spend in the next four years based on how much revenue would be available.

Williams city officials said having this option has been critical in maintaining current services and programs within the city.

Now that voters approved the home rule option, the city estimates it will be allowed to spend $25,995.597 in 2019-2020, based on the estimated revenue that will be available. If voters had not approved the home rule option, the city would have had to follow state-imposed expenditure limits, which would have restricted spending to about $13,644,119 in 2019-2020.

The home rule option is not a new tax and does not change existing tax rates.

Williams voters have approved the home rule option every four years since 1990. This fall the item was up for renewal for the next four years, starting with fiscal year 2019-2020.

The current city operating budget is around $26 million; for 2020-2021 the estimate is $26,419,063; for 2021-2022 it is $27,230,310; and for 2022-2023 it is $28,040,067.

Under the state-imposed limitation, the city estimates it will be allowed to expend approximately $13,644,119 in 2019-2020, $13,411,706 in 2020-2021, $13,597,877 in 2021-2022, and $13,733,129 in 2022-2023.

The limitations are based on a formula that starts with the city's expenditures in 1979-1980 and takes into account population changes, inflation and estimated exclusions.

The Williams City Council voted to approve the proposed alternative expenditure limitation at a special meeting April 26. The vote for approval was six for and zero against.

The city uses the additional expenditure authority for all local budgetary purposes including maintenance of current services and capital improvements. Current services include general government, culture and recreation, public safety, health and welfare, debt service, economic development, highways and streets, electric system, water and sewer, sanitation, golf course and various grants. Revenues received from federal, state and local sources would be used to fund the expenditures.

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