Interview with Sheri Lauritano. Verdict?

I ‘met’ with Ms. Lauritano over several emails as her schedule did not allow a face to face interview that was originally planned.  Here are my questions and her answers in bold.

Among the candidates for the 4 year council seat, Lauritano is definitely a better choice than either Stipp or Osborne.

I’ll reserve judgment for now regarding her suitability compared to Antonucci, Bohm, and Matlin.  I have an interview in the works with Matlin.

Overall, I find her to be sincere, and she may be independent but she did not provide data about her voting record vs the other incumbents as asked below.  Her remarks about everyone doing what they do in the public interest seem a little naive to me. In addition, she refers to name calling around Bill Stipp, and perhaps she is referring to questions about his web site and candidacy application not adding up and questions about his ability to be impartial with his connections to the police and fire departments.  I do not see that as name calling, I think those are reasonable questions about a candidate’s influences. She also appears to be really busy.

Finally on Georgia Lord, Sheri says she does not think Lord said in so many words that Lord could care less about small businesses, but that is what I heard Lord say.

Here are the interview questions and her answers.

1. Why do you say the budget is balanced?  I realize that there is money there “somewhere” but don’t you think it is misleading to keep telling people that we have a balanced budget when in reality we are spending more than we are taking in? As to the budget, I had several meetings with City staff to bring me up to speed since I came in half way through the budget process and this is my through process. The numbers are there and if you have a different take on them then I respect that, and we may just have to say we disagree. **HOWARD SEE BELOW.  I think she is referring to some of the information I put under question #2.

2. Answer to Q2 is really long so I put it at the bottom.

3. You said in the forum that your company started and continued with no debt.  Goodyear is swimming in debt. Doubled debt service in 3 years, it is now 50% of the GF budget expenditures.  What do you think about this?  Your question has no specific cites for me to review, ties in with question one.

4. In the forum you said 3 items. Taxes, Airport => airpark, higher education. Please expound further about these and what you think we should be doing in these areas.  The current council is looking at a graduated tax decrease and the effects on the deficit. The “Dashboard” program was sent to all council and candidates and shows how tax decreases effect the budget’s bottom line. We are meeting on this shortly. I would like to see graduated reductions in sales and restaurant with reviews every six (6) months to see if the process can be accelerated. As I have stated we need to look for a private partnership to bring education to Goodyear. Also my husband flies a twin we keep at Goodyear and the potential is there for development of an airpark. Also we might want to look at Embory Riddle who is based in Prescott for a model to develop the airport and also enhance our educational base.

5. Ball Park.  What is wrong with it?  How could we change it to be better?   I answered this at the Pebble Creek debate and also in several interviews. Bring in trade shows, concerts etc. I used the example if seeing The Police at Giants Stadium in Phoenix in the 1980’s.

6. Lord basically said she could care less about small businesses.  As a small business owner, how does that make you feel? As to comments made by Georgia I didn’t read that into them at all. It is similar to a jury instruction we use to people can hear a statement and take it different ways. Georgia is a good woman and I have respect for her. She did not say that. So to ask a question not based on fact is inappropriate.

7. Bill Stipp is a retired fireman on disability.  Why doesn’t he do a desk job if he is disabled if Goodyear is paying him anyway? He also sits on the fire and police pension boards. Is this appropriate or is it a conflict of interest?  He also said expenses are down by 13.3 mil but revenue is only down by 11 mil.  Do you agree or disagree with his claims? As to comments made by others at the debate I think you should ask them. It would be improper for me to speak for them. I would be happy to share my ideas.  I am concerned however, with the name calling and personal attacks on people. Everyone running has good ideas and wants what is best for Goodyear.

8.  Do you know how many votes you have taken since you have been on council?  How many times have you voted the opposite of Lord, Pizzilo, and/or Osborne since you have been on council? As to my voting record you can pull it. I beleive I missed a worksession and one meeting when I was in the hospital and recovering from penomina..I do what I think is right and in the best interests of Goodyear.

9. Anything else you would like to discuss? I will be posting several new ideas on my web site and through other media very shortly stay tuned.

2. I’m going to show you a table with financial info from the 2010 – 11 budget doc.  You’ve seen it before, and I’ve attached it to this email.  I’ll ask you a couple of questions about the table. We never discussed this question in person because Ms. Lauritano had to cancel our meeting time and although she offered to have her secretary call to set up another or meet me after the Estrella meeting, I did not hear from her secretary and I hung around after the Estrella meeting but she was busy with others and did not approach me. She said she did not see me there. She did offer the following information which I believe applies to this question.
Following are cut and pastes from the 2010-11 budget that Ms. Lauritano provided and then her comments in bold at the bottom.

Page 6 of the  2010-11 budget
The FY 2010-11 budget totals approximately $255 million, which represents a 32% decrease from the prior
year’s budget. This decrease is mainly attributable to the reduction in Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) spending
and less one-time capital and equipment purchases. Of this total FY 2010-11 budget, the CIP represents $25.2
million, with an additional $34.2 million from prior year carryover. The Operating Budget totals $70.8 million,
which represents a 2.8% decrease from the FY 2009-10 budget of $73 million. There is $17 million budgeted for

grant funding, $24.2 million in debt service requirements, and $78 million for contingency appropriation.
page 7 2010-11 budget
Operating Budget
The FY 2010-11 Operating Budget totals $70.8 million, which includes all departmental salaries, commodities,
and contractual services. Within the General Fund Operating Budget, there is a projected shortfall of
approximately $4 million. This is an ongoing structural deficit, as ongoing revenues are not adequate to meet
total ongoing obligations including, debt service and transfers to other funds.
In order to balance this $4 million shortfall, the City has gone through a series of significant budget cuts and
worked on right-sizing the organization. Reducing expenditures was the first step to balance the FY 2010-11
operating budget. A few of the reductions to employee compensation and benefits in FY 2010-11 include:
• No merit or market increases to salaries
• Reduce employee benefits:
o Suspend longevity pay
o Suspend health retirement savings
o Suspend vacation buy-out
o Suspend criteria based promotion
o Suspend tuition reimbursement
o Keep reduction to Uniform Allowance (Fire Department)
These FY 2010-11 Operating Budget reductions are in addition to those that were put into effect in previous
fiscal years and continue today. These continued reductions include:
• Reductions in training/development
• Reductions in outside services and consulting
• Suspension of police signing bonus
• Overtime and uniform allowances greatly decreased
• Re-evaluation of lease space

page 42 of the budget 2010-11
\The major sources of FY11 general fund operating
revenue are: local sales tax $31,635,287 (55.8%), state
shared revenues $9,570,095 (16.9%), community
development $4,062,992 (7.2%), primary property tax
$6,002,998 (10.6%), other licenses, fees, and charges
$2,823,459 (5.0%) and franchise fees $2,640,413
(4.7%), all totaling $56,724,974 (this includes
construction sales tax). The total is down 5.8% from the
FY10 total of $60,213,069.

page  50 of above document
The FY11 budget totals $255 million, which represents a
32% decrease from the prior fiscal year budget of $375
million. This can mainly be attributable to a reduced
Capital Improvement Plan and further operating budget
cuts. Continued sluggish performance in the state and
local economies contributed to the need to once again
reduce expenditure levels.
The largest single category in the budget

The largest single category in the budget is Capital and
One-Time expenditures at 32% or $81m. This includes
CIP carryover funding of $34m. Debt service is $24m or
9% of the total budget.
The Operating Budget for all funds is $70m and
represents 28% of the total budget. It is 2% decrease
from the prior year budget of $72.3 million. The
decrease is a result of a slowing economy and the
decline of available operating revenues. Increased costs for health insurance, utilities and contractual obligations
for outside services continue to be absorbed into the departments’ base budgets through the re-allocation of
Total revenues for FY11 are estimated at $119m.
General Fund operating revenues are projected at $56.7
million, or 47% of the total revenues. User fees from
Enterprise Funds such as, Water Resources,
Wastewater and Sanitation account for another $24.7
million or 20% of the total revenue. A rate increase for
Water and Wastewater services, combined with steady
customer demand, are contributing to expected revenue
increases over last year’s estimate of $21.8 million.
Development impact fees are estimated at $8.6 million
(including utilities) and will help to fund the Capital
Improvement Plan’s growth related projects. Expected
bond proceeds.

page 80 of budget 10-11 (positions)
As result of this the authorized position count has decreased from 592 to 514 (78
positions) since FY 09.

(Lauritano) This is also in the chart on 302 same document. What is most important here is that the funded positions went from 560 in 2008 ( se page 182 of that budget)  down to 511 in ’11 reference above.
(Lauritano) When I look at page 23 of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report it shows a decrease across the board. I think where you differ from the city’s number is due to the actual transfers in on page 51 and 52 of the budget. I met with Larry and John to go over government accounting as it is different then many private sector businesses. As it is acural and not cash accounting the transfers are handled differently.
These are the numbers and sources I used. If you disagree with the city’s numbers then we might just have to agree to disagree on this issue.


7 Responses

  1. I have seen her at both PC and Estrella and was impressed.
    I think she can get things done.
    Young and a professional.

  2. Sorry, Howard, you are wrong again; In Question 7 you state Goodyear is paying Bill Stipp. Bill Stipp is a retired Arizona Public Service person and his retirement is paid by the State of Arizona Public Service Personel Retirement System (PSPRS) not the City of Goodyear.

    • Mr. Watts can you read? Go read #7 again, that is not what I said. I said IF he is paid by Goodyear.

      • Except, you not only say IF he is paid by Goodyear, but *also* “IF [Bill Stipp] is on disability”.

        Going with your statement, you are implying that there are assumptions to *both* his disability and how he gets his pension.

        There’s no question that Stipp IS on disability and therefore, you are implying that he IS paid by the city.

        • I’m not implying anything. I wrote what I wrote. That’s it, read into it whatever you like. His website says he is retired. Is he getting retirement pay or disability pay or both or neither? I don’t know and that is why I said “if”. If you know, why don’t you enlighten all of us anonsmith with your fake email address.

      • Why did you ask the question if you knew he was wasn’t being paid by Goodyear. Your question implies he is being paid by Goodyear and he should do a desk job.

  3. Once again, Mr. Watts, (popybobbie) your READING COMPREHENSION is failing you. Where did I say I knew he wasn’t being paid by Goodyear? I don’t know. Stipp’s application to run and his web site don’t match up. In fact even his web site contradicts itself when it comes to where he works, if he works, is he paid to be retired, or disabled or what. Maybe you could get him to be a guest author on this blog and explain all the details of what he collects and how much from which state funds at the ripe old age of 46.

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