Phoenix elections include more new taxes

Posted on August 16, 2007 | Type: In the News
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PHOENIX - Early voting started Monday Aug. 13 for the Sept. 11 Phoenix elections.

Citizens in the odd-numbered districts will have an opportunity to elect a new council member for their respective districts, except in Claude Mattox's District 5, unless theres a registered write-in candidate.

And, they'll all get to decide whether to reseat incumbent Mayor Phil Gordon or replace him with either the Republican candidate Steve Lory or the Independent write-in candidate Mark Yannone.

There are also six propositions on the ballot.

Proposition 1 is for a sales tax hike of 0.2 percent, the proceeds of which will be used to hire 500 new police officers and 100 new firefighters within the next two years.

On March 14, 2006, Phoenix voters approved bonds in the amount of $177 million toward improving and expanding the city's police, fire protection and homeland security systems by constructing, reconstructing, improving, repairing, acquiring land and equipping new and existing police and fire stations, a new crime lab, purchasing helicopters, equipment, etc.

They also approved $16 million in general obligation bonds for the purpose of acquiring equipment and constructing new radio communications facilities to improve emergency response to citizens.

Early voting enabled easy passage of all seven bond propositions before citizens received their property valuations.

On March 7, 2007, Phoenix City Council approved Ordinance S-33743, authorizing the city manager to enter into a parking space agreement with Thomas J. Klutznick Company, a Chicago based developer, for the CityNorth Project, a $1.8 billion upscale, mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Loop 101 and 56th Street, between Desert Ridge Marketplace and the JW Marriott Resort.<>The project features 1.2 million square feet of retail space and restaurants, including four major department stores.

The parking space agreement requires the city to make use payments to the developer, which will be calculated based upon market rates for the long-term use of public parking.

These use payments would start after the 1.2 million square feet of retail is completed and open for business, and must be prepaid in annual installments over a period not to exceed 11 years, three months or until the city has paid a total of $97.4 million, whichever occurs first.

In return, the developer will dedicate a minimum number of spaces in the parking structures for long-term use by the general public at no charge.

The developer claims, without this near $100 million tax subsidy, it would not have located its project in Phoenix.

On May 14, 2007 council approved the form of the ballot for the Sept. 11 election and on May 25, 2007, council adopted its tentative budget of $3.6 billion dollars for Fiscal Year 2007-2008.

The timing of Proposition 1 being placed on the Sept. 11 ballot, asking citizens to increase their sales tax, is strategic, as it comes before citizens can see the ramifications of last years bond approval, since their tax bills wont be mailed out until later in the month.

Citizens wont know the true meaning of with no new taxes until after the Sept. 11 election.

Proposition 2 proposes a 5.98 percent cost of living increase for the mayor and council, based on the Phoenix Consumer Price Index for the previous two years, to take effect Jan. 2, 2008.

The recommended salary would boost the mayors annual salary to $93,262 and councils to $65,284.

If anyone wants to see just what the mayor does to earn a salary of $93,262, visit www.philgordon.org and click on the Wheres Phil? tab.

Hes been to the Food City Back to School Fair, the Youth Ambassador Exchange Program and KTARs morning radio show.

Unfortunately, there were also several memorial services to attend this month.

Gordon attended the grand opening of Christown Spectrum JC Penney, spoke at the Annual Latina Breakfast and on Aug. 9 he attended a staff meeting regarding the Shade Tree Program. Getting back to the ballot, Proposition 3 proposes continuing the Home Rule Alternative Expenditure Limitation option, which allows the city to limit its expenditures to the amount of its adopted annual budget.

If Home Rule were to fail, the city would be required to limit its expenditures by the state imposed formula based on 1979 - 1980 expenditures and growth.

Failure of Home Rule would not necessarily require the city to reign in unnecessary spending, as was the intent of the state imposed expenditure limit. The city would probably be more inclined to reduce necessary city services and increase debt financing.

Propositions 4 modifies the time for filing, preserving and obtaining signatures on nomination petitions for candidates for city office, while Propositions 5 and 6 appear to be nothing more than housekeeping items.

Considering a city's first and foremost obligation is to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and, by passage of the 2006 bonds to build new police and fire stations, the city knew it needed to hire more police and firefighters.

Will Phoenicians tax themselves again, knowing their city council voted to give a $100 million tax subsidy to a wealthy developer in lieu of hiring police and firefighters? There are two little sticking points.

One is the Arizona Constitution.

Article 9, Section 7 states, Neither the state, nor any county, city, town, municipality or other subdivision of the state shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation, or become a subscriber to, or a shareholder in, any company or corporation, or become a joint owner with any person, company, or corporation The other is a lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of plaintiffs Meyer Turken, Kenneth Cheauvront, James Iannuzo, Justin Shafer, Zul Gillani and Kathy Rowe, all of whom own businesses in Phoenix, seeking to permanently enjoin enforcement of Ordinance S-33743, asserting it violates their constitutional rights.

The complaint also points to A.R.S. ?o 42-6010(A), which prohibits municipalities from offering or providing a tax incentive to a business entity as an inducement, or in exchange for, locating or relocating a retail business in the city or town.

A city or town that violates this statute is subject to a penalty equal to the amount of the incentive realized by the taxpayer.

This brings into question other public/private partnerships the city has entered into with developers building condominium projects downtown on city-owned land for the purpose of avoiding payment of property taxes.

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