Arizona Primary Frequently Asked Questions

When is the primary election?

The primary election is August 4th.

When is the voter registration deadine?

July 6th

When does early voting begin?

Ballots go out on July 8th

What is the last day to request a ballot?

July 24th

What is the last day to mail back my early ballot

July 29th

What is the last day to vote early in person?

July 31st

What time are polls open?

6AM to 7PM

Am I registered to vote?

You can verify your voter registration here – https://my.arizona.vote/PortalList.aspx

Where can I find my polling location?

https://www.azcleanelections.gov/voter-dashboard

I am an Independent do I get a ballot?

A one time request can be made here – https://recorder.maricopa.gov/earlyvotingballot/earlyvotingballotrequest.aspx

How do I get on the permanent early voter list?

Go here – https://recorder.maricopa.gov/PermEvSignup/

What type of ID do I need to bring to the polls?

Valid Arizona drivers license OR

Valid arizona non-operating identification card OR

Tribal enrollment card OR

Valid United States federal, state, or local government ID

Who’s Buying Your Mayor and Mesa City Council? Ever Wonder Why?

Should people who do business with the City of Mesa be able to donate to City of Mesa political campaigns.

Should people who do business with the City of Mesa be able to donate to City of Mesa political campaigns.

Posted by Councilman Jeremy Whittaker on Wednesday, July 15, 2020

One of the things I find most disturbing in politics is the disconnect between politicians and the people they are supposed to represent. I believe the main cause of this is politicians are mainly concerned about the individuals and companies bankrolling their political campaigns. What I decided to do is start building out this database of all the campaign donors and who they gave money to over the last two election cycles. I then created a column labeled, “Project/Notes” this column will show what business the person or company has done with the City of Mesa. If they haven’t done any then it will be a link to their business.

Database of campaign donors

This is intended to be a living community document. If you’re interested in contributing data to this please let me know, contact. The data can be found here – Mesa City Council campaign donors.

I hope we can build a better community by ending this crony capitalism. This is essential to move our city forward.

Federal COVID funds should be for those in need not to balance our budget

I’m extremely disappointed in what the Mesa City Council and management did today. We received $90 million from the federal government to support people in our community who have been impacted by COVID-19. Instead of putting this money to use in our community to support things like rent/mortgage, food, and utilities for our residents we’re using accounting gimmickry to dump $50 of the $90 million of this money to balance our own budget. The CARES act direction states “Payments must be used only to cover costs that were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020.” So what the Council and Management are doing is paying for our existing public safety budget for the remainder of the year using these COVID funds to the tune of $50 million. Then the money that was allocated previously to public safety is freed up in the budget and can then be extracted back to the general fund and spent on almost anything.

We are in unprecedented times.

  • The unemployment rate in Arizona is now at 12.6%. This is the highest it’s been since modern record-keeping or since 1956.
  • The fed chair anticipates unemployment will peak as high as 25%. To put this in perspective it only reached 24% during the great depression.
  • In the last 9 weeks 38.6 million people have filed for unemployment
  • 8.16% of American’s mortgages are currently in forbearance
  • Pre-existing home sales fell 18% in April

If COVID-19 does not subside it’s grip on our economy soon it will leave a lasting impact on our economy. There will be massive holes in balance sheets of individuals, corporations, and states. The people in our community are going to need this money more than ever to pay for shelter, food, medical expenses, and security. Now is not the time to be increasing our budget to take money from the people who desperately need it to survive.

Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program

The City of Mesa received $90 million in stimulus from the federal government. Of that money, roughly $20 million will be spent to help small businesses impacted by Covid-19. The money will need to be spent on rent, mortgage, or utilities. Applications will open on Monday, May 11th at 8AM. You can apply here – https://www.mesaaz.gov/city-hall/mesa-cares/mesa-cares-small-business-reemergence-program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program?
The Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program is a grant program made possible by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund under the CARES Act. It is designed to assist eligible Mesa businesses with up to 90 days of utilities and rent/mortgage payments and is aimed at those businesses who have experienced interruption caused by required COVID-19 business closures or limited service.

Who can apply for the Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program?
This program is intended to assist for-profit, Mesa-based businesses that suffered negative impacts and business interruptions due to required business closures or limited service for the purpose of stemming the spread of COVID-19 that was mandated by an Executive Order of the Arizona Governor. 

To review Governor Doug Ducey’s COVID-19 related Executive Orders, please visit  https://azgovernor.gov/executive-orders

General Eligibility Requirements:

  • Business must be an eligible for-profit business type located at a physical, commercial address in the City of Mesa. Businesses in Maricopa County islands or unincorporated areas of Mesa are not eligible.
  • Business has not received any CARES Act funding or COVID-19 related assistance through a federal program such as the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Emergency Advance.
  • Business must have suffered negative financial impacts or business interruptions due to required business closures or limited service, mandated by the Arizona Governor’s Executive Orders regarding COVID-19.

What is the grant amount?
Grant caps are undetermined at this time and applying for funding does not guarantee an applicant will receive any funding award. Once the first round of grant applications is closed and the demand analyzed, the City will determine eligibility of the applicants and award amounts for each business, then contact the applicants.

How do I apply?
Businesses will be able to access and submit the application via a link on this page beginning Monday, May 11 at 8 a.m.

When is the deadline for applications?
The online application submission deadline is Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 5:00PM, (MST). The application and all verification documents must be submitted to the City by that time or the application will be considered incomplete.  Technological or other submission difficulties will not excuse the requirement that the application be submitted by the deadline.

I am having problems completing the form online. Can I print the form and deliver it or mail it?
For health and safety reasons, the City is not accepting paper applications or documents. However, a Mesa CARES call center representative can assist you in completing your form. Please call 480-644-CARE (2273). The call center team will be available 8:00AM- 5:00PM Monday – Sunday.  Please be prepared to provided call center representatives with the verification documents to be submitted with your application.

If you require special accommodations to complete your application, please call 480-644-2273.

How do I know if my business is in an unincorporated portion of Maricopa County or county island and not within City of Mesa?

Please visit the “Explore Mesa” map at: https://opengis.mesaaz.gov/pages/maps.  Click “Search By Location” and type in your address. If the address you entered is in Maricopa County, the map will return a result of “Non-Mesa Location.”

I live in Mesa and am the sole proprietor of a home-based business. I don’t have a commercial address.  May I apply for this program?
No.  At this time, the program is intended for businesses that are in a “bricks and mortar,“ commercial setting within the city of Mesa and that have been impacted by Executive Orders that mandated closure or limited service. As a home-based business owner, you may be included in a different round of funding or will likely be eligible for funding under the Mesa CARES technical assistance program and/or a future, separate relief program.

What other businesses are not eligible for the program?
Specific types of businesses not eligible for program participation are:

  • Franchisees that are not licensed to exclusive Arizona-headquartered franchises.
  • Publicly held companies.
  • Real estate investment firms.
  • Firms involved in speculative activities that develop profits from fluctuations in price rather than through the normal course of trade, such as wildcatting for oil and dealing in commodities futures, when not part of the regular activities of the business.
  • Dealers of rare coins and stamps.
  • Firms involved in lending activities, such as banks, credit unions, check cashing, finance companies, factors, leasing companies, insurance companies (not agents), and any other firm whose stock in trade is money.
  • Pyramid sales plans, where a participant’s primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants. Such products as cosmetics, household goods, and other soft goods lend themselves to this type of business.
  • Firms engaged in illegal activities, including the production, servicing, or distribution of otherwise legal products that are to be used in connection with an illegal activity, such as selling drug paraphernalia or operating a motel that permits illegal prostitution.
  • Gambling activities, including any business whose principal activity is gambling. While this precludes grants to racetracks, casinos, and similar enterprises, the rule does not restrict grants to otherwise eligible businesses, which obtain less than one-third of their annual gross income from either the sale of official state lottery tickets under a state license, or legal gambling activities licensed and supervised by a state authority, including businesses with an off-track betting license.
  • Principle or owner of the business is currently incarcerated or on parole.
  • Businesses engaged in the growth, harvest, storage, transport, distribution, use or otherwise providing cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, including cultivation facility, dispensary, and infusion facility.
  • Any business owned, in whole or part, by a City of Mesa official or employee who, in their official capacity, participates in the oversight, development or implementation of the Mesa CARES business program.This exclusion also includes any business owned by a relative of such public officer or employee. (A.R.S. § 38-502(9).)
  • This list of ineligible businesses may be updated by the City as the program continues.

If I am not eligible for this program, what other resources are available?
The City of Mesa Office of Economic Development has launched the Mesa CARES Business Assistance Center as Mesa’s key source of information and assistance for businesses needing access to financial support programs and resources during the COVID-19 crisis. To discover other resources that may be available, please visit www.selectmesa.com/MesaCARESbusiness.

I own multiple businesses. Can I apply for assistance more than once?
If you have multiple, eligible businesses that are separate legal entities in Mesa, you may submit a separate application for each business.

When will I hear if my application was successful?
The application deadline is Sunday, May 24 at 5:00PM. All applications and verification documents must be submitted at that time or the application will be considered incomplete. The City anticipates that the evaluation period will run approximately 7-10 days during which time City Council will be presented with recommendations. Applicants should check the www.mesaaz.gov/MesaCARES for program updates. 

How will awardees be notified?
The City of Mesa will utilize email to communicate with all applicants. Be sure to check your email regularly, including spam folders. We recommend you add MesaCARESBusiness@MesaAZ.gov to your contact list to make sure you receive updates.

What if I don’t have an Employer Identification Number (EIN)/Tax ID?
In Arizona, sole proprietors with no employees can use their social security numbers (SSN) as an EIN.

How do you calculate “Full-time Equivalent” Employees?
The definition of full-time equivalent (FTE) is the hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis.  Therefore, two part-time positions (.50 FTE) could be used to equate to 1 FTE.  On an annual basis, an FTE is considered to be 2,080 hours, which is calculated as: 8 hours per day x 5 work days per week x 52 weeks per year = 2,080 hours per year

What is considered a Utility?
For the purposes of this grant, a utility can be water, gas, electric, phone, cable, and internet. A bill is required documentation for each utility for which you are seeking assistance. These utilities must be utilities utilized for business operations and cannot be exclusively personal utility accounts of the business owner.

What documentation do I need to provide?
Applicants must submit a W-9. If you don’t have one, you can find this simple form at the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf. If you are requesting commercial mortgage assistance, you must provide a bill or statement dated after March 1, 2020 evidencing your mortgage payment. If you are requesting rental assistance, you must provide a bill or invoice dated after March 1, 2020 evidencing your rental amount or a copy of your current lease. If requesting assistance for utilities, you must provide a copy of one bill dated after March 1, 2020 for each utility. 

If you have not provided at least two pieces of documentation that verify your Mesa business address, you must upload additional documentation that matches the business address listed on the application. In this case, other acceptable forms of documentation include, but are not limited to, Mesa business licenses, articles of incorporation or other proof from the Arizona Corporation Commission, last submitted tax return and recent supplier invoices.

If you require special accommodations to complete your application, please call 480-644-2273

How small businesses can apply for free money from CARES act.

How small businesses can apply for free money from CARES act.

I’ve been studying the CARES act in the last week since it was signed into law. I wanted to link to a few resources for small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus. There are two separate loans available, the economic injury disaster loan and the payroll protection program.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan

If your business has been severely impacted and you are in need of immediate money you can apply for the economic injury disaster loan here – https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/ remember that false information provided under self-certification under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 for verification purposes.

I have heard from a couple of sources that if you apply for this EIDL loan then that amount is not forgivable and will have to be subtracted from the PPP loan below. If you can you may want to hold off on applying for this EIDL.

Payroll Protection Program

The payroll protection program loan if used properly is entirely forgiven by the government. They can be used to cover:

  • Payroll including benefits
  • Mortgage interest (incurred before February 15th, 2020)
  • Rent (agreement must have been in place prior to February 15th, 2020)
  • Utilities (agreement must have been in place prior to February 15th, 2020)

Important notes

  • Loans can be used to cover expenses over the 8 weeks following the day the loan was made. You must maintain employee and compensation levels.
  • Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee.
  • Payments are to be deferred for 6 months
    • Interest is still accrued at 1%
    • The loan is due in 2 years
    • No pre-payment penalties
  • No collateral is necessary for these loans
  • No personal guarantees are required for these loans
  • All of the following can apply for a loan if you have less than 500 employees
    • Non-profits
    • Veterans organizations
    • Tribal
    • Sole proprietors
    • Self-employed
    • Independent contractors
  • Certain businesses with more than 500 employees can apply. They are defined here https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-guide/size-standards this includes but may not be limited to hotel, food, and franchising industries.
  • The loan size can be for 2.5x your average monthly salary from 2019. This is however capped at $10 million
  • For sole-proprietors or independent contractors, it is wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment but is capped at $100,000 per employee.
  • Interest rate is 0.5% fixed

In order for loan to be forgiven

  • You can use your loan for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities for the 8 weeks following the loan date.
  • If you do not maintain your staff and payroll you will also not be forgiven that money.
    • You must maintain employee headcount
    • You cannot reduce salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee making less than $100,000
    • If you made any changes to full-time employment or salary levels you have until June 30th to restore them.

Applying for the loan

Starting April 3rd small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply through existing SBA lenders. I’ve put together a list of the largest SBA lenders here –

https://bit.ly/2UVWKIq

On April 10th independent contractors and self-employed can apply.

Your lender will require this application which can be downloaded by clicking here. They will also require additional documentation specific to the lender you choose. This application will be open until June 30th.

You must certify the following are true

  • Current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations.
  • The funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage, lease, and utility payments.
  • You have not and will not receive another loan under this program.
  • You will provide to the lender documentation that verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight weeks after getting this loan.
  • Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • All the information you provided in your application and in all supporting documents and forms is true and accurate. Knowingly making a false statement to get a loan under this program is punishable by law.
  • You acknowledge that the lender will calculate the eligible loan amount using the tax documents you submitted. You affirm that the tax documents are identical to those you submitted to the IRS. And you also understand, acknowledge, and agree that the lender can share the tax information with the SBA’s authorized representatives, including authorized representatives of the SBA Office of Inspector General, for the purpose of compliance with SBA Loan Program Requirements and all SBA reviews.

Applying for forgiveness

You must request through your lender that is servicing the loan once it is established. You must provide documentation to verify the requirements above. You must also certify that your statements are true. The lender will have 60 days to decide on forgiveness based on this criteria.

2020 Mesa Voter Demographics

Bankrupt Pensions & Unsustainable Pay Increases

Last month at a Council meeting I voted against pay increases for our top city officials. Below is a chart showing pay increases for their respective positions over the last 20 years. The red line is the average for the citizens of Mesa. This chart compares the citizens of Mesa salary increases per capita to the four positions that the Council sets annually.

It is not sustainable to give our executives salary increases at this rate while the Citizens we represent are not seeing like pay increases in the economy. Further, if we can’t afford to pay the current pension liabilities how can we offer such drastic pay increases?

In addition to the unsustainability of executive pay increases year over year, there exists another massive problem. We have pension liabilities that are severely underfunded. As of last year, the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System or PSPRS for Mesa fire is only 50.5% funded and Mesa Police 46.99% funded. The retirement for the remaining City of Mesa employees in the Arizona State Retirement System or ASRS is only 70.5% funded.

ASRS Will Break in the Future

If you look at the breakdown of the asset classes you can see that ASRS is heavily invested in equities or the stock market. This means when the next stock market downturn comes ASRS will be in trouble. Typically retirement funds are diversified across multiple asset classes so they are immune to these market gyrations. The issue is they are so grossly underfunded they have no choice but to invest in risky assets in hopes that they meet their goal of a 100% funded ratio.

While PSPRS is severely underfunded you can see they have at least diversified. They did this after the board bankrupt PSPRS circa 2008.

At the end of the day, neither the ASRS or PSPRS retirement funds are healthy. If we can’t afford the retirement we’ve promised to employees without massive tax increases how can we possibly be handing out raises so far in excess of what our citizens are experiencing?

2019 Mesa Average Residential Household Cost Comparison

2019 Mesa Average Residential Household Cost Comparison

The purpose of this report is to analyze the amount paid by the typical Mesa household for direct services provided by the City of Mesa. These amounts are then compared to seven other comparable cities in the Phoenix metropolitan area. 

This report takes into account property tax, sales tax, and utility services as of July 2019. This report assumes the same consumption levels for water and wastewater services. For property tax we use median single-family home value in each city for the analysis. The sales tax numbers are based on Phoenix metropolitan household income. The purpose of this is to reflect the typical residential household would pay for each of the services or what would be paid in taxes in the respective city. 

Residential solid waste services for Mesa are estimated at $362 per household. 

In the above chart the annual water charge is based on a typical single-family residential monthly water consumption of 10,000 gallons. The annual total cost for the typical Mesa household is $1,138. 

Even though Mesa has the third highest sales tax rate at 2% our sales tax revenue per household is only $636. This lack of revenue indicates a poor economic situation. 

For this analysis the Phoenix metropolitan median household income of $73,291 per 2017 census survey. Phoenix metropolitan median household income was utilized to make a comparison between cities. 

Mesa does not have a primary property tax but a secondary property tax. Mesa ranks the lowest for property tax collection for this reason. The median single-family LPV for each city, per the Maricopa County Assessor, is below.

Only the City of Mesa and the Town of Gilbert levy a secondary property tax. 

On an annual basis cities study whether a rate increase is needed. Listed below is a summary of the adjustments for the typical residential customer as of July 2019.

VoteYesOnAffordableUtilities.com

Proud to announce our website is complete and we have started a new initiative to modify the City of Mesa charter. It’s called “Yes on Affordable Utilities”. This will push to preserve our utilities by making sure adequate investments are made into their financial sustainability. More details can be found on the website, https://voteyesonaffordableutilities.com

“Yes on Affordable Utilities” is a community-driven effort to reduce your City of Mesa utility rates, this includes your water, wastewater, sewer, trash, and electric. Today for every $100 you spend on these Mesa utilities $32 is skimmed off the top to balance the budget and pay for unrelated expenses like a subsidized private airport, golf course, professional sports complexes, and ASU campuses. This has led to uncontrollable water costs and utility rates in Mesa. 

How Utility Money Flows in Mesa

I’ve created this flow chart to help people visualize how money travels throughout the City of Mesa. This is a living document and will be updated occasionally to add new items(click to enlarge).