Nov 7, 2023 - News

Election to decide fate of $500 million Phoenix bond issue

Illustration of a checkmark that turns into a series of dollar signs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's Election Day for the majority of voters in Maricopa County, and if you live in Phoenix, you have a big decision about the city's first bond election in nearly two decades.

The big picture: The $500 million general obligation bond on Phoenix voters' ballots will pay for things like fire stations, upgraded parks, roads improvements and cultural amenities.

  • This is the city's first bond election since 2006.

Why it matters: Bond elections are one of the most significant ways cities can invest in new buildings and infrastructure.

State of play: There are four bond questions on Phoenix voters' ballots:

  • $214 million for fire, police, roadway and pedestrian infrastructure;
  • $108.6 million for "quality of life" improvements like libraries, parks and historic preservation;
  • $114.4 million for economic development, waste reduction, resource management, education, arts and cultural projects;
  • $63 million for affordable housing and senior centers.

Details: The projects already approved by the Phoenix City Council span $132.5 million for public safety, including new fire and police facilities, renovations of preexisting facilities and community assistance programs at two fire stations.

  • There's $64 million for improvements at parks and other public facilities, including new splash pads and pools at Harmon and Maryvale parks.
  • $33 million would be dedicated to affordable housing preservation.
  • It would cover cultural projects, such as $21.6 million for a Latino Cultural Center and $14 million for a permanent Valley Youth Theatre.

Between the lines: The economic development, arts and culture bond includes $23.5 million for the city to buy land along the Rio Salado in south Phoenix as part of the Rio Reimagined project that would develop a 45-mile stretch of the Salt River.

Zoom out: Several West Valley cities are also asking voters to approve bonds to fund the next decade of infrastructure improvements in their communities.

  • Glendale: Voters will decide whether to approve two bond programs: $82 million for street and intersection improvements and $78 million for public safety projects, like modernizing police and fire stations.
  • Surprise: The city has split its $100 million ask into two questions: one to support transportation projects and the other for public safety facilities.
  • Goodyear: In its first bond election since 2004, the city is asking for $135 million for street and transportation projects, $80 million for public safety facilities and $17 million for parks and recreation.
  • El Mirage: Voters will decide whether to approve $41.5 million for a second fire station, a police station expansion, a new city court facility and an expansion to city hall.

Meanwhile, Litchfield Park voters will decide whether their city should become Arizona's first new charter city in more than 40 years.

Reality check: If you haven't put your ballot in the mail yet, it's too late now, but you can still put it in an official drop box or vote in person at locations across the Valley.


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