The City of Phoenix has approximately $2.34 Billion of the taxpayer's money it is not
using, i. e. surpluses equal to $1,610 for
every man, woman and child in Phoenix or $6,440 for a family of 4. This does not include
all the additional surpluses that exist in the school districts in
A below shows the results of the FY 2003 review.
What are these surpluses we refer to?
surpluses, as used in this report, are funds that are not required or needed
for the operation of all government operations, funds, accounts, agencies,
etc., directly or indirectly, for the year(s) covered by the budget which is
usually one year. Theoretically, at the end of every fiscal year, governments
should have little or no cash/investments on hand. But what we have found is
that most governments have huge amounts of cash and investments on hand at the
end of the fiscal year. And somehow these cash and investments are not being
recycled back through the budget process the next year, but are being held
A Government Can Have a Budget
Deficits/Shortfalls and Financial Surpluses At The
This is the
most deceiving topic that governments, politicians, and the news media have
conveyed to the public about governmental financial matters. In realty, a
government can simultaneously have a budget shortfall and a financial surplus
of the taxpayers' money.
problems are focused in four areas:
budget only covers a small portion of the City's financial condition. There are
a group of funds not part of the budget process. The complete list of funds and
budgetary requirements are found in the Comprehensive
Annual Financial Report (CAFR). This report depicts the complete
financial status of the City. The budget only covers a portion of the financial
resources of the government.
A Little Background:
The CAFR usually has four categories.
Governmental Funds involve activities of the government
including most basic services such as environmental resources, general
government, transportation, education, health and human services, and
protection of persons and property. Most of the cost of these activities are
financed by taxes, fees , and federal grants.
Proprietary Funds are used when a government charges customers
for the services it provides, whether to outside customers or to other agencies
with the City. For example, Enterprise Funds, a component of proprietary funds,
are for activities that provide goods and services to outside (non-government)
customers, which includes the general public. Fees, charges for services or
goods, assessments, fines, licenses, etc. are the major revenue sources.
Fiduciary Funds are activities in which the City acts as a
trustee or fiduciary to hold resources for the benefit of others. These funds
are pension trust funds, investment trusts, and agency funds (which are for
assets held for distribution by the government as an agent for other
governmental units, other organizations, or individuals).
Component Units reportedly are legally separated organizations
for which the government is financially accountable. Usually fees, charges for
services or goods, assessments, fines, penalties, licenses, etc. are the major
budget, as commonly known to the public, only involves the Governmental
Funds and may not even include all of the governmental-type funds. The
remainder of the Funds shown above are not part of the budget and are commonly
called "off-budget" items.
year's budget consists only of next year's estimated revenues and next year's
estimated expenditures. Previous years' revenues not used (spent) are normally
not considered in the next year's budget, but should be. In other words, the
previous years' revenues (as shown in the CAFR) are not recycled back to the
Historically, a budget consists of three parts: 1) Funds brought
forward (funds not previously spent); 2) Next year's estimated revenues; and 3)
Next year's estimated expenditures.
somewhere along the way the funds brought forward category was lost. In
accounting, the previous years' revenues are no longer called revenue but have
been converted to Cash and Investments. Since they no longer called Revenues
governments have forgotten about them to the public. They are there but not
considered in the budget process, but should be.
budgeted items and non-budgeted items (off budget) should be budgeted to zero
(usually referred to as zero-based budgeting). In addition, the government
should be on a pay-as-you-go basis, no reserves for future years. What this
means is that you budget to have a zero fund balance. If you plan to spend $100
you budget for $100 with no excess or reserve allowed.
Budgeted expenditures should be last year's expenditures (as shown in the CAFR)
with an adjustment for increase in requirements (costed out) or reductions in
requirements. In most cases the CAFR expenditures are not considered in the
next year's budget because the CAFR in many cases is published after next
year's budget is considered and sometimes approved.
Running Surpluses is Stealing
taxation is legitimate, running a government surplus
isn't. It represents a taking by the City,
because it exceeds the government's contract with the community. It is no
different than if a federal agency were to take a person's land or possessions
without just compensation (an activity barred by the Fifth Amendment).
Excess taxation isn't what the people bargained
entitlement or authority not ceded by the community, the City abrogates its
moral pact with those it governs. Its power is no
longer derived from the people, whose rights to liberty and property it boldly
The City Officials
officials should include in the next year's budget the previous years revenues
not spent as indicated by the CAFR. These were once a revenue and should still
be considered revenue for budgetary purposes.
should consider a zero-balance budget concept for all budget and non-budgetary
items in the CAFR including the College and Universities and the Component
expenditures (for the budget) should be last year's expenditures (from the
CAFR) adjusted for demonstrated requirement changes in project, program or
services. An increase in requirements should include the costs of these
additional requirements. Conversely, a decrease in requirements should result
in a decrease in costs associated with the decreased requirements.
should take into consideration the entire financial condition/status of the
City in the budgetary process by including all of the funds in the CAFR as
being a part of the budget.
This system is covered in
the CAFR Budget
System. This system needs to be implemented in all
If the City
holds the excesses/surplus, it will earn 4% to
5% on that money. If the City returns the money to the people it
will receive 16% in revenue because of the
increased economic activity. This is elementary economics.
Laws need to be changed.
done by governments is by law. There are laws that City this or that regarding
the use of some of the funds. Man made the laws, man can change the laws. How
much effort would it be to include at the end of every law "...or if considered
excess or not needed for the current operation that the funds will be refunded
to the taxpayers?" See how easy it is.
At one time
every law had its place, but things change. The laws need to be reviewed for
change to meet the current needs of the government and the people to release
these funds for use/refunded.
were accomplished, the City would have a huge surplus to refund (rebate or tax
reductions) to the taxpayers. Such a refund would create considerable wealth
and jobs, increase wages, increase City and local government revenues,
dramatically increase the economy, and create the greatest economic expansion
in the history of the City. Everyone wins.
If you want
to know the financial condition of your government(s), do not look at the
budget. Get the CAFR.
The Synergistic Magic of
happens when the government holds the $2.34 Billion.
||Family of 4
government holds and investments the surpluses at 4.5%.
is what happens when the $2.34 Billion is returned to the taxpayers (the
||Family of 4
surplus is returned to the taxpayers.
government revenues increase.
government revenues increase.
government revenues increase.
addition, 46,868 jobs are created. This is why it is disastrous for governments
to hold excesses/reserves of the taxpayers money.
The economic impact analysis is further explained at
Economic Impact Analysis.
The business community suffers the most.
9-11 tragedy, President Bush and Congress provided tax rebates which averaged
$427 for every American. This was to create an additional $60 billion in
consumer (economic) spending, turn the economy around and create jobs for the
unemployed. However, 9-11 change that.
As the above
economic impact chart shows, if the City returned the $2.34 Billion in
surpluses to the people the City economy would grow by $3,220 per capita. That
is 8 times the amount the Federal government used to stimulate the U.S.
economy. Businesses net incomes could double or triple. This is elementary
Enterprise Fund and not part of the budget, made a profit of $1.7 million. It
also had reserves (cash and investments) of $595 million.
System, another Enterprise Fund and not part of the budget, made of profit of
$14 million. But it also had cash and investment reserves of $358 million.
another Enterprise Fund, had net expenses of $14 million. It had reserves of
$142 million. This represents 10 years of reserves.
Buildings and Service Centers, a Special Revenue Fund, had net expenditures of
$148 thousand and had cash/investment reserves of $134 million. This is 904
years of reserves.
represent 4 of the 32 funds shown below that had cash and investment reserves
not being used.
What to do?
budget flaws are corrected and the entire City finances are used in the budget
process, the problems that created the surpluses will continue to exist. The
budget deficits reported by the City officials will be used year after year for
the excuses for tax increases and/or to reduce needed services.
stopping a tax increase or a reduction in services will not solve the problems.
The problems will come back the next year.
provided the details of the surpluses and explained the ways the surpluses are
accumulated. The data is accurate because it comes directly from the
government's own financial statement, the CAFR. You must provide the
where-with-all to convince the City officials that the surpluses exist and what
should be done about it. I live in Tucson, Arizona. It is not my money that is
CAFR was received from the City.
Items not Included
following items are not included in the
amount of surplus shown:
-Buildings, roads, bridges, land (not for sale), and equipment.
compensation plans for employees. These are plans in which the employee
contributes to his/her retirement over and above the normal employee retirement
that is 100% supported by donations, bequests, gifts, endowments, etc. These
are not taxpayers money.
Colleges and Universities. All endowment and similar-type funds should not be
included as surpluses. Sometimes these funds are combined with other
college/university funds. We are interested in surpluses, so in these cases the
total amount should not be included.
which the revenues/contributions are 100% held for other individuals,
organizations or another government.
that are required by law in which a bank, financial institution, insurance
companies, etc. are required to deposit with the government a certain amount
for insurance against the entity going bankrupt. These are not taxpayers'
-Retirement/Pension Funds - only included are 1/2 of the actuarially determined excesses, the taxpayers
portion. The other 1/2 is the government employees portion.
Review of The City of Phoenix CAFR- FY
||List of Investments By Fund (In
|| Excise Tax
|| Special Revenue Funds:
|| Cable Communications
|| Highway User Revenue
|| Local Transportation
|| Municipal Court
|| Parks and Recreation
|| Development Services
|| Public Housing
|| Sports Facilities
|| Capital Construction
|| Other Restricted
|| Capital Projects Funds:
|| Street Improvements
|| Police and Fire
|| Storm Sewers
|| Parks, Recreation and
|| Public Housing
|| Municipal Building and Service
|| Sports and Cultural
|| Debt Service Funds:
|| General Obligation/Secondary
|| Streets and Highways
|| Public Housing
|| City Improvement
|| Special Assessment
|| Enterprise Funds:
|| Phoenix Civic Plaza
|| Water System
|| Solid Waste
|| Golf Course
|| Pension Funds: (1/2 the actuarial
|| General City Employees
|| Public Safety Employees - Police
|| Public Safety Employees - Fire
|| Payroll Agency Fund
||Family of 4
Some of the funds have agreements with other governmental units
on providing services. The complete relationships are not provided in the CAFR.
These funds surpluses should be prorated among the participants based on their
Note: For those familiar with
governmental accounting, for surpluses we basically used GFOA Balance Sheet
Account Classification Codes 101, 102, 103, 151, 153, and 170.
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