Daily Archives: July 6, 2009
[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — The brick mini-mansions sitting empty on Phoenix’s Central Avenue is first on the New York Time’s list of “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age.” The newspaper commissioned a photographer to go across the country and capture physical evidence” of the real estate bust.
Phoenix’s Chateauxs were supposed to sell for more than $4 million and be topped with copper turrets. But in late 2007, PHX Partners — developer of the unusual project project — filed for bankruptcy. Phoenix-based commercial lender Mortgages Ltd. then financed the project and took it over through foreclosure. In mid-2008, Mortgage Ltd. was forced into bankruptcy. Chateaux is a high-priced, nearly built castle-esque ghost town on Central Avenue now.
A Charlevoix Homes subdivision in Chandler was no. 2 on the Time’s list. President of the home builder Michael Roberts filed for bankruptcy last year. The subdivision sits half built. [Note: To read the full blog post, click here.]
[Source: Forbes.com] — While migration to the sunny climates of the Phoenix metro area has certainly slowed — in 2006, the region saw an increase of 4.1%; in 2007, that number dropped to 3.3% — it’s still significantly higher than most metros in the country. The unemployment rate for January 2009 was 6.7%. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Sean Holstege, Arizona Republic, March 30, 2009] — Maybe you’ve heard of Tax Freedom Day, theoretically the date when Americans have worked enough to pay off their tax burden for the year. Researchers have now come up with Transportation Freedom Day, the date when an average household has paid off its annual costs of getting around in a particular city. For metro Phoenix, that day fell on March 23, but it’s different for each city in the region and across the country. Tempe residents cleared the typical cost of car payments, insurance, gas, repairs, and transit use on March 18. Residents in New River will keep paying until April 9.
Phoenix is in the middle of the pack for U.S. metro areas. Cheapest are San Francisco, with a March 1 freedom day, and New York (March 7). Tucson (March 30) is near the bottom.
The findings are based on research from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, an Illinois think tank that advocates sustainable urban development. Generally, cities with the most density, shortest commutes and most transit options fared best. People in far-flung suburbs generally fare the worst. [Note: To read the full article and online comments, click here.]
[Source: Robert C. Booker, Executive Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts] — After a legislative session that began and ended amidst much uncertainty, the bill containing the Arizona Commission on the Arts budget was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on July 1, 2009.
Some of the Arts Commission’s funding streams are interest-bearing (ArtShare Endowment) and fee-based (Arts Trust Fund); thus staff will need a few days to sort out precisely how the legislative reductions will affect the total fiscal year 2010 arts budget. This much is certain: as a result of legislative reductions and the market downturn, the Arts Commission’s overall budget will be reduced by approximately 42% for fiscal year 2010.
Some of the key arts-related items from the enacted fiscal year 2010 budget follow:
- The Arts Commission’s general fund appropriation was reduced by 54% from fiscal year 2009.
- The enacted general fund appropriation – now $956,100 – is sufficient to match Arizona’s annual federal arts allotment as administered by the National Endowment for the Arts.
- The ArtShare Endowment principal – $20 million at full funding and built over the course of 12 years – has been cut in half from fiscal year 2009. The endowment corpus now stands at $10 million. Interest payments on the remaining endowment principal continue to underperform.
- The Arts Trust Fund was not reduced, though decreased receipt of Arizona’s small business filing fees means the fund will pay out less in fiscal year 2010.
- The Arts Commission has now sustained losses equivalent to twice the sum of its annual budget. At the beginning of fiscal year 2009, the Arts Commission had an annual budget of $5.8 million. Over the year, the agency sustained losses of nearly $12 million as the state attempted to close its growing budget gap.
As the legislative session wore on, it became clear that the best possible funding scenario would see the arts budget reduced by at least 39%. Within the budget proposals debated and passed during the Arizona State Legislature’s session, the state arts budget would have sustained reductions ranging from 39% to 80%. (This does not include the budget proposal offered by Legislative Democrats, which cut the arts appropriation by less than 5%. This budget was never brought to committee by legislative leadership.)
Given Arizona’s massive budget shortfall and volatile political climate, and though it is distressing to say, a 42% reduction is considered a legislative success. Several elected officials from both parties, as well as Governor Brewer and members of her budget team, understood the importance of a general fund appropriation and the ArtShare Endowment, and fought mightily against indomitable odds to achieve the best possible outcome for the arts. Thankfully those individuals were able to fend off deeper cuts to the Arts Commission.
As these officials were fighting for the arts, statewide arts advocates were passionately giving voice to the value of public funding for the arts in their communities. Parents, youth, volunteers, patrons, arts leaders, educators and artists stepped forward to tell personal stories about the educational, economic and cultural impact of the arts in Arizona. In all, hundreds of calls were placed and thousands of messages were sent to elected officials in support of the arts during the legislative session.
Because several parts of Arizona’s fiscal year 2010 budget were vetoed by Governor Brewer and the Legislature’s proposed package did not close the state’s budget gap, and because economists project increasing revenue shortfalls over the next several fiscal years, we remain concerned about midyear and ongoing budget reductions. Together we must remain vigilant in support of the statewide arts industry.
In fiscal year 2009, though the Arts Commission’s actual operating cash budget was reduced by over 33% in legislative reductions and interest/fee losses within the year, the agency was able to fulfill all fiscal year 2009 grant commitments. This was accomplished by careful fiscal planning and deep cuts to programs, operations and personnel – reducing agency staff by 23% over the past two fiscal years.
That said, an additional 42% reduction will no doubt have a significant impact on administration, operations, grants, programs and services. We pledge to continue reducing internal costs so as to mitigate losses to agency grant-making, though with only 14% of the agency budget applied to personnel and with many fixed operational costs (such as rent and other state contracts), the agency will not accomplish a balanced budget without percentage cuts to grants and programs.
Arts Commission staff is diligently working with the now-final budget numbers to calculate fiscal year 2010 grant awards. We apologize for the inconvenience, but because the state arts budget was not finalized until July 1, 2009, grant award announcements will not be available until July 15, or thereabouts.
Your tireless work is of great value to the Arizona Commission on the Arts staff and board. Know that we never forget our charge, to provide statewide access to and support your work in the arts – and with your help, we continue to imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts wherever they live.