Hidden Letters to the Editor: Scottsdale’s Debt

These letters appeared under “SATURDAY SOUND OFF” in today’s Scottsdale Republic:

How concerned are you about Scottsdale’s high debt per capita?

The fact that Scottsdale’s debt per capita exceeds those of its sister cities should be neither a surprise nor a concern. We are Scottsdale, after all, the envy of those same sister cities. When was the last time you heard someone living in Scottsdale say, “Gosh, I think I’ll move to Mesa?” That’s what I thought. We’ve got something special going on here and spending money to preserve our desert, ex­pand the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center and build a Museum of the West is necessary to maintain our edge and reputation as the “West’s Most Western Town.”

Dave Bachmann, Scottsdale, teacher

The debt statistic is a number that, by itself, would be cause for concern. But there are several other numbers that need to be viewed in order to accurately convey Scottsdale’s financial health.

Income per house­hold and savings per household are two statistics that reflect Scottsdale’s true position when assessing our debt situation. Income per household demonstrates the real worth of Scottsdale. The amount of income per household far exceeds all but one community.

And, one cannot discount the AAA endorsement the rating agencies have assigned our city. A third­person endorsement lends credibil­ity.

Jerry Gettinger , Scottsdale, consultant

[Unfortunately, Mr. Gettinger must have missed the City Treasurer’s lecture to the City Council about what unsustainable budgets will do to credit ratings. JW.]

Mesa is great. Scottsdale needs to get with the times. Ironic, and actually said on these pages recently. Mesa?

Scottsdale always has been and must always remain the exceptional leader for municipal achievement. And that means respon­sible debt. Indian Bend Wash. Spring training. McDowell Mountains. Waste Management Open. The arts. They help make Scottsdale Arizona’s most notable city. Indeed, substantial tourism is what keeps Scottsdale taxes at low levels. My guidepost for concern will not be the lungs of demagogues. It will be financial markets articulating emerging or real problems. But this is Scottsdale, not Glendale.

Jason Rose, Paradise Valley, public relations executive

[Ironically, Scottsdale’s current debt of $1.3 BILLION exceeds that of financially-troubled Glendale, which Rose references. Incidentally, Rose is Mayor Jim Lane’s campaign PR guy. He is also the promoter of the annual taxpayer-subsidized Horses and Horsepower polo match.]

It doesn’t make sense to go into debt for a horse arena, a West­ern museum, or even desert land in a state where over 70 percent of the land is already off-limits to devel­opment. The pro­ponents of such spending justify it with cost-benefit analyses that are inherently flawed, because they don’t include opportuni­ty costs. That’s a fancy economics term for what might have hap­pened if taxes had been kept low and money had been left in private hands instead of being doled out by central planners to politically-fa­vored businesses, industries, special interests and causes du jour .

Craig Cantoni , Scottsdale, business consultant

Scottsdale is known for initiat­ing Big Hairy Ideas, and Big Hairy Ideas don’t come cheap.

Saying we have the “highest debt per capita” is out of context. We aren’t other cities in the Valley, and we have unique ways to service our debt. The McDow­ell Sonoran Pre­serve is a great example. We voted to provide dedicated revenue to fund it, and voted to bond against its future revenue. Now we have a world-renowned Preserve. Scotts­dalians want the best. Most of us are willing to pay for Big Hairy Ideas, but when they incur debt, they must be fiscally sound invest­ments and consistent with our community character. [Emphasis added.]

Joan Fudala , Scottsdale, community historian and author.

[Even though Ms. Fudala–an excellent historian–chooses to sit on the sidelines when it comes to contemporary opposition to frivolous spending, she inadvertently has made the Local Quote of the day on this issue].

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