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 Proposed Bond Issues - What the High Information Voter Needs to Know

scottsdale_city_logo.jpegScottsdale General Obligation Bond Proposal - click here for TPS High Information Voters - Scroll down to page 13 for a ranking and description of all 34 projects submitted by City Staff to the City Council for consideration.  

The Council selected 21 of these projects and rejected 13.  The 21 selected projects will appear on the ballot in November 2015 grouped into seven categories as outlined in the attached "Proposed 2015 Bond Program". Voters will be asked to approve or reject the groups rather than individual projects.

Read here Bob Littlefield presents the history and present status of the bond proposal.

Watch & Listen Here to Doug's presentation at our May 21 General Meeting

and 

you can Contact Doug here through TPS.

Video is courtesy of David Leeper of Western Free Press

We will have a bond election on November 3, of this year.
There will be 7 categories with a total of 21 items for a total of $99 mil

First, a bit of history-The last successful bond election in Scottsdale was 

15 years ago, in 2000. $452 mil was requested with $358 mil approved by a 60% majority (voters rejected $94 mil). That money has been spent on libraries, parks (not the Preserve), flood control, police & fire, and transportation (roads, busses).

In 2010, voters rejected a $63 mil transportation bond by a 55% majority. In 2013, just two years ago, we rejected a $212 mil bond by a 60% majority.

So it has been 15 years since we have passed a bond to pay for capital improvements. Yet the city has continued to spend money on capital improvements. Where is that money coming from and why does the City Council believe that a bond is needed?

Keep in mind that the budget we are talking about is the General Fund- police and fire which consist of about half of the fund, parks, libraries and city operations. Speaking in very round figures, starting 10 years ago, the city was bringing in about $280 mil and spending for the general fund about $240 mil. The money left over, about $40 mil, was funneled to capital improvement projects. Starting in 2009 (post- recession), the income dropped by about $40 mil from the high point. General Fund spending remained about the same at $240 mil and the city council reduced the capital improvement contribution to around $5 mil. That is how they balanced the budget. In defense of the council, before the recession, expenses were going up as the money poured in. They did stop the increases, even with inflation and a growing

population. For example, from the high water mark of 2008, they reduced the city workforce by about 13%.

Now, to the upcoming bond proposal. This year, for the current bond proposal, city staff prepared a list of 34 projects for city council consideration. The total cost of all 34 was $173 mil. City Council whittled this down to 21 projects and a total of $99 mil. They have grouped these into 7 categories. The goal is to initiate all of the projects within 3 years and complete them within 5 years.

An early estimate of the cost to homeowners if the entire package passes is about $38 per year or a little over $3 per month. It is important to note that business property is also taxed, so it is not just homeowners who will pay.

How they voted-the vote was 6-1 with Guy Phillips the only no vote. Guy feels that the money is already there and is allocated to the same projects we see on the new bond. I looked, and I don’t find that to be correct. Hopefully, we will have an opportunity to ask Guy about this at our September meeting. I spoke with Kathy Littlefield after the meeting-she said her goal was to keep the total below $100 mil. When I had an opportunity to address the council in which I suggested that all of the approved projects be listed individually on the ballot to give voters an opportunity to pick and choose. That didn’t go anywhere. In conversation with Linda Millhaven, she questioned whether North Scottsdale folks would approve a South Scottsdale project, and vice- versa. Dave Smith, as promised in his campaign, was in favor of all 34 projects.

Arguments for and against

For-We need these projects to continue the city’s critical infrastructure- streets, parks, flood control, police, fire and medical emergency. There is probably a general agreement that this is true. Most, if not all of the

projects are needed. We all want to have quick fire and police and emergency medical response, good streets, nice parks and to not get flooded every monsoon.

Against-We are already taxed too heavily. The city should cut other expenses and use the money already in the bank to pay for these projects.

For-Most of the money the city has in the bank is either already allocated or is part of a 90 day (approx.) emergency reserve fund. For example, the city has $82 mil in the bank which is part rainy day reserve and part accumulation of funds for the semi-annual bond payments due July 1st. Additionally, the city has held spending reasonably constant in spite of inflation and population growth.

Against-Once the bonds are approved, the City Council can spend it on any project they want.

For-The money must be spent on projects within the listed category (any excess money in the fire category must go to fire projects, for example), and a citizen’s oversight committee will be created to keep watch on the council. In addition, and this is key, the dollar figures listed on the bond proposal are not binding bids but are estimates today for projects which will be completed over a 5 year period. Council needs some flexibility to account for variations in either direction.

Against-Having a special election in 2015 will cost $500,000. If we are going to have a bond election, it should be in conjunction with the general election in 2016 to cut expenses.

For-Waiting a year is not a good idea since we need to get started on the projects as soon as possible. Also, having the issue on the general election ballot in 2016 will still incur significant extra cost to Scottsdale, so the net difference is much less than $500,000.

Now, if you would take a look at the handout, there are a couple of things to point out. First, the first page is a list of all 34 projects. The 21 which will appear on the ballot In November are asterisked. The seven categories are hand printed with arrows. And, if you would look at the top right, you will see a “total of points” notation. Prior to discussing and selecting the final 21 items to be on the bond proposal, each council member assigned a point value to each project-2 points for “should be a bond project, 1 point for could be and 0 points for should not be. What you see handwritten in is the total points allocated by each council member. A higher number indicates the council member selected more items for the should or could category. You will see that Dave Smith had the highest number and Guy Phillips had the lowest.

The second page is what we will see on the ballot.

The third and fourth pages are a sample of project details. This particular one, I picked more or less at random, not because it is more or less important than the others, but to give you an idea of the information which is available to us. On our TPS website (teapartyscottsdale.com), you can see project details just like this for all 34 projects. Just go to the home page and scroll down to the second item-Scottsdale Proposed Bond Issues. Click on TPS High Information Voters. Project details start on page 13. They are a quick and easy read.

My final point-as voters, we sometimes have a knee jerk reaction to increasing taxes. After all, the Tea in Tea Party is taxed enough already. Those of us who occasionally listen to Rush Limbaugh will be familiar with his comments on “the low information voter.” Let’s all do our best to be “high information” before we cast our votes. 

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published this page in Home 2015-05-20 09:43:06 -0600