Bonds: What You Actually Approved

By my rough math, we had about 22% turnout for Scottsdale’s bond/tax election yesterday, November 3, 2015. Sad, especially considering that a little more than 10% of Scottsdale’s registered voters (16,000) were able to raise property taxes for all 146,000 voters. Or said another way, just by staying home, 114,000 voters agreed to have their taxes raised.

In case you didn’t read the ballot, here’s what Scottsdale voters actually approved. The language of the two approved ballot items is exactly what you approved, no more or less. Nothing else in the ballot pamphlet or anything else that was promised by Mayor Jim Lane and the City Council is legally binding. Only the item description on the ballot:

QUESTION 4
PURPOSE: STREET PAVEMENT REPLACEMENT – AMOUNT: $12,500,000

Shall the City of Scottsdale be authorized to issue and sell not exceeding $12,500,000 principal amount of its bonds to provide funds to plan, design, construct, replace, and improve the following street project: Citywide Deteriorated Pavement Replacement?

Payment of Bonds: The issuance of these bonds will result in a property tax increase sufficient to pay annual debt service on the bonds.

A “yes” vote shall authorize the City of Scottsdale governing body to issue and sell $12,500,000 of general obligation bonds of the City of Scottsdale to be repaid with secondary property taxes.

A “no” vote shall not authorize the City of Scottsdale governing body to issue and sell such bonds of the City of Scottsdale.

QUESTION 5
PURPOSE: PUBLIC SAFETY-FIRE – AMOUNT: $16,350,000

Shall the City of Scottsdale be authorized to issue and sell not exceeding $16,350,000 principal amount of its bonds to provide funds to design, acquire, construct, reconstruct, improve, furnish and equip, and, if necessary, acquire land for, the following Fire Stations in the estimated amounts shown: Fire Station 605 ($800,000), Fire Station 613 ($5,100,000) and Fire Station 616 ($3,700,000) and to provide funds to relocate Fire Station 603 ($6,750,000)?

If the actual amount of bond proceeds expended for a certain project is less than the estimate, the excess bond authorization resulting from the difference between the actual amount of bond proceeds expended and the estimate may be expended, if needed, on other projects described in this Question 5.

Payment of Bonds: The issuance of these bonds will result in a property tax increase sufficient to pay annual debt service on the bonds.

A “yes” vote shall authorize the City of Scottsdale governing body to issue and sell $16,350,000 of general obligation bonds of the City of Scottsdale to be repaid with secondary property taxes.

A “no” vote shall not authorize the City of Scottsdale governing body to issue and sell such bonds of the City of Scottsdale.

Question 5 is one of the least objectionable of the entire lot. There has been a need for these stations (though the council has ignored these needs for at least ten years and frivolously spent money elsewhere). The item is pretty specific in terms of exactly what the money will fund. And these are new infrastructure.

On the other hand, I’m concerned about Question 4. The Arizona Republic has reported variously that the $12.5 million will “replace street pavement citywide,” and that it will, “…repair and repave roughly 140 miles of street pavement…”

Both assertions are wildly optimistic. The first implies that every street in the city will get new pavement. I can promise you THAT won’t happen! I doubt they’ll all get even a minimum of slurry sealing.

The second statement is perhaps a little more accurate. But in reality, there are many streets that will get no attention at all. Including, probably, the one in front of your house.

The best-case scenario is that this money will get spent on the worst streets first. Many of Scottsdale’s roadways have paving that’s well beyond its designed service life. And the public works department probably has a priority list.

But I’m pretty sure that the priority list is going to be jockeyed in favor of projects close to the rich and famous, and/or new real estate developments.

I hope you’ll keep an eye on how your money is spent. I’ll sure try!

You may also like

1 Comment

  1. I’m glad the voters supported the question regarding fire stations-this is the #1 public safety issue in Scottsdale. Road repair seems to be a seasonal event in Scottsdale and I have no doubt there are roads that need repaving. Hopefully that portion of the bond will be spent wisely.

Leave a Reply to Christine Schild Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *