City & Local Reform
It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.
Unless you're Oscar the Grouch, most people agree garbage is, well garbage, and they want it removed as soon as possible. Cities usually charge either a flat rate or use property taxes to pay for trash collection. But this is a one-size-fits-all method of billing. Why should an elderly woman living alone and generating far less trash pay the same for trash collection as an apartment full of college students?
Phoenicians appreciate shade, which is why the Arizona Republic editorial "A Place in the Shade" got me thinking: If so many of us love shade, why is there a shortage?
It turns out planting a tree in Phoenix isn't as easy as it sounds. With 62 zoned districts and 11 commissions overseeing them, anyone who wants to plant a tree faces a jungle of overlapping codes and bureaucracies. Take a look here: Phoenix Laws and Regulations
On July 13, blogger Greg Patterson remarked that Arizona Republic business page columnist Jon Talton's articles have a running theme: "Phoenix is a wasteland without true leadership, light rail or biotech, but Denver and San Diego are totally cool because there are plenty of grunge opportunities for the creative people and by the way, don't go to Wal-Mart because your job will be shipped to China."
As if on cue, Talton wrote the following compare and contrast on San Diego and Phoenix July 21:
Why are so many choosing the suburbs?
High property taxes in Phoenix may be one answer. Phoenix residents bear the highest property tax rates of any city in Maricopa County-five percent higher than the next highest, Glendale, and exactly twice the rate in Surprise. It shouldn't be a surprise that people choose to buy homes where it costs less.
Despite its already high property taxes, Phoenix is asking for more. An upcoming spring vote would let the city issue bonds worth $750 million. The bonds will be repaid with future property taxes.
Mesa spends $2.5 million to run two city-owned golf courses. At the same time, city employees are being asked to forgo cost-of-living adjustments for the next two years to help stave off a looming budget deficit. While glittering greens may look great in brochures and nicely complement the other 19 golf courses in Mesa, a round on the municipal back nine is cold comfort to employees facing de facto pay cuts.
Valley residents spend an average 49 hours a year in traffic jams. Until now, Minneapolis drivers were similarly stuck.
Today, more than 5 million American workers have opted out of the Social Security system, participating instead in plans administered by local and municipal governments.
No one has lately accused the Valley of lacking enough hotel space.
And, yet, both the cities of Phoenix and Glendale are pouring tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money into publicly-financed hotels and convention centers.
Glendale is planning a new "upscale" hotel, estimated to cost between $40 and $60 million and financed primarily by the city.