This column appeared in the “Community Voices” page of the Scottsdale Republic this morning.
Latest vote fails to keep city and schools special
Defeats indicate our shortsighted views
After vacationing in Scottsdale for several years, my wife and I decided to move there for retirement instead of our earlier planned destination.
One of the (many) reasons we changed our minds was the fact that Scottsdale was so obviously well-cared for — the roads were in great shape, the many parks were clean and inviting, there was very little litter, the roadways were nicely landscaped, public buildings seemed new and wellmaintained.
Since moving to Scottsdale three years ago [emphasis added], we have been thrilled with our choice of retirement locations and have sung Scottsdale’s praises to our friends far and wide.
The results of the Nov. 5 bond and school-override election surprised and saddened me. Surprised, because I certainly didn’t anticipate voters turning down all five questions that I was quite happy to approve. Saddened, because I now wonder what will become of our new hometown.
People often say Scottsdale is special, and it surely is. However, Scottsdale can only stay special if we take care of it.
I reviewed the actual list of projects to be funded with the proposed bond issue — upgrades to parks, libraries and community facilities; improvements to police and firefighting equipment and facilities; neighborhood flood protection measures; new and improved roadways and traffic-control equipment. I just didn’t see anything on the list that looked the least bit frivolous. I saw a lot of sound projects that would help Scottsdale continue to provide the quality of life we all prize and stay special for decades to come.
I understood that my real-estate taxes would modestly increase to pay debt service on the new bonds but that seemed to me a very small price to pay to keep my hometown the special place that first attracted us.
I also noted the important fact that Scottsdale’s treasurer indicated the new bonds, when issued, would not cause Scottsdale to lose its coveted AAA bond rating. Therefore, supporting the bond issue seemed like such an easy choice, yet the bonds were rejected by about a 60-40 vote. Now, none of the projects will go forward.
To Councilman Bob Littlefield (and his wife), who led the opposition to the bond issue, I say you have done the citizens of Scottsdale a significant disservice. I worry for the future of Scottsdale if we do not properly care for our city.
Part of being special is having the best schools. Yet sadly, the voters turned down the school override that I also was happy to support despite having no children who attend those schools.
I also understood that my taxes would increase by a small amount if the override passed but once again, I considered that a small price to maintain a premier school system that benefits us all in myriad ways (just ask a realtor what good schools do for property values).
Now, the Scottsdale schools again will be forced to increase class sizes and cut even more educational programs. How can Scottsdale hope to thrive over the long run if we don’t offer the best possible education in our public schools?
It is bad enough that the state Legislature has defaulted on its duty to properly fund public education, but now my fellow residents have compounded this neglect and our school children, along with all the rest of us, will pay the price. I worry further for the future of Scottsdale if we do not support our schools.
I hope Scottsdale residents will be given another chance to vote on these issues. I fervently hope they will reconsider their past votes if given another chance to keep Scottsdale special.
William Kelly is a Scottsdale resident.