Tea Party of Scottsdale, AZ
Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values: Personal Freedom, Economic Freedom and a Debt-Free Future


 

 

Scottsdale Bond Proposal - A History & Current Status by Bob Littlefield

Bob___Kathy_LIttlefield.jpgOn June 3rd the Scottsdale City Council voted to put a $96M bond package on the November 2015 ballot. In order to fully understand what is happening here, voters first will need a little history lesson.

In 2013 my wife Kathy Littlefield, with help from Councilman Guy Phillips, former Mayoral candidate John Washington and I, led the opposition to that year’s $212M city bond package. We argued it was too bloated, too filled with special-interest handouts and unnecessary projects, and was essentially just a slush fund for Council and staff to fund their pet projects. The voters agreed with us and soundly defeated all of those bonds in every precinct in Scottsdale.

Fast forward to 

January 2015. Kathy is now Councilwoman Littlefield, and she used the leverage given to her by the voters to negotiate a leaner, fairer bond package for 2015.The special-interest handouts, such as flood control projects to benefit developers and parking garages to benefit bar owners, were removed. The size of the bond package was reduced by over half. And, while she and I would have preferred that each individual project be listed as a line item on the ballot to give voters the maximum amount of choice, having six smaller items on the bonds is more transparent than the four larger packages on the 2013 ballot. She was even able to get the City Council to vote unanimously to list the estimated cost of each individual project on the bond ballot, something the then City Council majority in 2013 refused to support.

This bond package still contains some items I think should have been left out. There are some Information Technology items that are important but, since they only last for 5-10 years before they become obsolete should not be financed with 30-year bonds. And there are bike lanes on McDowell that the residents of that area do not even want. But overall Kathy was able to make this a bond package of needs rather than wants.

Which raises the big question, even if these projects are all important and necessary, why do we need a property tax increase to  fund them? Most Scottsdale residents are fine with paying taxes to fund true community needs and amenities. But they don’t want their tax dollars wasted. They rightly ask, why can’t these projects be paid out of the revenues the city already collects?

These questions were raised at the April Tea Party of Scottsdale meeting where former City Treasurer and now recently-elected City Councilmember David Smith tried to convince the membership that they should vote for the bonds. In fact, David has said publicly Scottsdale should be issuing $100M in new bonds every year! You have to give David credit, it was gutsy of him to speak in front of a group whose initials stand for “Taxed Enough Already” and ask the attendees to vote for hundreds of millions of dollars in new property taxes!

During that meeting I reminded David that, when he was the City Treasurer and I was a City Councilman, he pointed out to the Council, in a public meeting broadcast on Channel 11, that the only way the city had balanced the budget during the economic downturn was, not by cutting expenses, but by cutting contributions to the capital fund. Which is, of course, why there is now not enough money in the city coffers to pay for all the important capital projects.

I could write an entire column on Scottsdale city government’s wasteful spending, but here are just a few examples. We pay about $4.5M every year to the Cultural Council to run a theater with declining attendance, a “Museum of Contemporary Art” that almost no one attends, and a declining public art program. Are these really necessary functions of city government? I think not, time to wean the Cultural Council from depending on taxpayer dollars. Our City Manager has admitted that we have too many executives (with six-figure salaries) on the city payroll. They may be nice people but it is time to get them off the taxpayer gravy train. For ten years the city has been sitting on 80 acres of prime land at 94th and Bell. Time to sell that land and use the proceeds to fund some of our truly worthy capital projects.

When I was on the City Council I advocated for all of these fiscally prudent measures, and more. But the current City Council majority refuses to implement any of them.

Bottom line, if Scottsdale City government exercised sufficient fiscal discipline and cut some of our wasteful spending we could pay for the truly necessary projects out of general fund revenues, without raising taxes on our residents’ homes and businesses. But that will only happen if Scottsdale voters elect more fiscally prudent people to the City Council in 2016.

 Bob Littlefield is a former Scottsdale City Councilman.  He can be reached by email at bob@boblittlefield.com.

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posted about this on Facebook 2015-06-11 14:18:50 -0600
Scottsdale Bond Proposal - A History & Current Status by Bob Littlefield
@TPScottsdale tweeted link to this page. 2015-06-11 14:18:47 -0600
published this page in Scottsdale City Council & DDC 2015-06-11 14:18:41 -0600