Bond Peddlers

Scottsdale City Treasurer David Smith
Scottsdale City Treasurer (now City Councilman) David Smith

David Smith wants to raise your taxes. Yes, the same David Smith who wants to cut your taxes. And the same David Smith who has no problem giving away millions of dollars of your tax money to subsidize private businesses like the National Football League, the Professional Golfers Association, the Scottsdale Cultural Council, and polo matches promoted by Mayor Jim Lane’s campaign PR manager, Jason Rose.

Not a week after the city council entertained and then rejected David Smith’s proposal (repackaged from late councilman Tony Nelssen) to create a sales tax exemption for food sales,

Councilman David Smith said the city’s needs are urgent. Waiting a year would lead to higher costs because of inflation, he argued,

according to an AZ Central recap of the renewed bond (borrowing and taxing) proposals that the citizens soundly rejected a year ago.

The new proposal floated by staff (with strong support from faux-Republican Virginia Korte, among others) is down from almost a quarter of a billion dollars to $173 million. Council observers can easily divide these into three categories:

  1. Projects that SHOULD have been done via our Capital Improvement Projects fund, which Jim Lane and the City Council chronically short-funded for the last ten years while they were giving money away to cronies. Examples: $12.5 million for “deteriorated [street] pavement replacement,” and about $30 million in public safety-related spending, among others.
  2. Make-work projects for council campaign contributors who are in the construction business and the liquor industry. Examples: $14 million for a bar district parking garage, and a good portion of the “transportation improvement” projects.
  3. Outright subsidies like the $13.5 million Crossroads East “regional flood improvements” item. This same item was labeled “neighborhood flood control” within the bonds on the last ballot. City staff dropped that moniker completely when yours truly pointed out that there is no existing neighborhood on that proposed development. This is purely a bailout for the developer who can’t build in a newly-designated (by the feds and county) flood plain.

To repeat, the Republic (AZCentral) reports,

Councilman David Smith said the city’s needs are urgent.

If these items were so urgent as to require bond financing, i.e., borrowing and additional taxes to pay off the borrowing, then why didn’t the then-city treasurer David Smith (yep, same guy) complain about it before he decided to run for a council seat?

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  1. The city of Scottsdale has needs. To pay for these needs it either does a bond effort OR raises taxes (like the city of Phoenix is trying to do.) In either case, our taxes will go up. That can not be stopped or postponed, the city needs the money.

    1 – The Capital Improvement Project fund was short-funded, just like educational funding in Arizona. Well like I have said many times, the money is GONE. So to get more money in that fund you either RAISE taxes or pay for things with a bond. Should this fund have been so ‘neglected’? NO, but it is too late to cry over the spilled milk. The city needs to address those issues – so it looks like we are going for a bond.

    2 and 3 are no necessities and should be cut out of this bond ask immediately. They scream favoritism and almost Mafia like payoffs. If the crime district needs parking, then put the ‘entertainment’ tax in effect and you have your funds from that to build whatever. That way the tax is going to those who are putting forth the ask.

    The flood control should be called – this is how we help our developers at the cost of the rest of the city. If flood control is needed for a populated area, then it is a necessity. This seems to be just to get the city to pay for what a developer should be doing. The developers are leeches on the city and need to pay their way. Our infrastructure is already taxed with their developments, no need to pay for them to create more problems.

    The big elephant that is not being said is – education. Yes, our local school district (Scottsdale Unified School District) had the dog and pony show to rebuild elementary schools. The superintendent said they are NOT going to go for a bond this year. BUT they need to go for one to rebuild the aging schools, so if Scottsdale does not get the bond or bonds passed this year, they will be on the same ballot as the school district.

    So who wants to pay more taxes for stuff we need vs. stuff for someone else? If the bond effort fails, then you have just placed city bonds with the school district bonds. So do they both fail or which one passes?

    Mr. Smith failed to plan ahead, so did many in the city council. Now the citizens have to pay the price. Do the citizens go for a bond this year or what? What about the school districts bond? Is that now made harder to pass with the city asking the year before? What if the city does not pass the bond OR needs more bonds on the same year the school district asks?

    This all can be summarized in the following statement -Failure to plan on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.- So Mr. Smith and the city council, the bond effort is the ’emergency’ you want us (the citizens of Scottsdale) to pay. That goes double for the school district.

    1. Always appreciate your perspective, Ed.

      Unfortunately, the bad guys are counting on exactly the sentiment you expressed: It doesn’t matter how we got here, we need the money. And they won’t rein in the wasteful subsidies as long as they can get the citizens to vote to increase their own taxes.

      The first step is spending reform. Only then will know how much we really need.

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