The Glendale City Council met for a special workshop on Wednesday to discuss proposed budget changes and changes to a previously approved lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena.
Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete discussed three possible scenarios for the future budget. All three centered around a recent court decision to allow the citizens' sales tax initiative on the November ballot and the lease agreement with prospective Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison. The scenarios proposed included plans accounting for the sales tax increase and for the sales tax satying in place. The plans also involve two scenarios for the lease agreement. The choices are either a "successful renegotiation of Arena Management Agreement" or an unsuccessful renegotiation resulting in the Coyotes leaving Glendale.
Each scenario proposed called for a decrease in payments over the first five years of the Arena Management Agreement that Jamison agreed upon on June 8. The original fee for year one of the lease was $17 million. The payment would increase to around $20 million in years two through four before eventually dropping down to $18 million in year five, according to Mayor Elaine Scruggs. The proposed changes would lower those numbers to $13 million in year one, $14 million in years two and three, $15 million in year four and $16 million in year five. Scruggs asked Skeete if he believed that Jamison would accept those changes. Skeete replied by saying that he had been in negotiations with Jamison for a couple of weeks and added, "We have not yet finalized the renegotiating agreement." The council also accounted for a scenario where the Coyotes would leave Glendale and their arena management payments would drop to $6 million per year. Each scenario was also contingent on the city being able to restructure its debt and save $8 million. Skeete hopes to have an agreement with Jamison by the end of the week. But, Skeete added that if he could not renegotiate with Jamison, he would not suggest the city move forward with keeping the Coyotes.
The numbers presented showed the city's bottom line would be helped by retaining the Coyotes with the changes in the lease instead of the current lease or letting the team leave Glendale. A couple of council members mentioned that the city has other problems besides the Coyotes that have led to budget issues and that it is misguided to point to the Coyotes as a symbol of Glendale's issues. Those other issues include the debt on Glendale's baseball fields as well as the inability of the city to restructure its current debt.
The council chamber was filled with all but one candidate for mayor or city council in the upcoming election. Darrold Larson of Phoenix attended the meeting because he wants the Coyotes deal finished. "We need to get the Coyotes deal done...the importance of Westgate revolves around the Coyotes." Larson also mentioned that the city already made the deal and now wants to "renege" on it.