This “Community Voices” column by Scottsdale City Councilwoman Linda Milhaven appeared in today’s Scottsdale Republic.
In the course of beating the bond election dead horse, Milhaven doubles down on the pro-bond strategy of attacking her critics. Unfortunately for Milhaven, her mouth is in gear but her brain appears to be in neutral. She says, among other things:
During my time on the council, we have reduced expenses while continuing to put money aside for capital projects. In fact, we contributed more to capital projects over the last few years than is required by our financial policies.
First, during Milhaven’s “time on the council” there have been NO substantial, structural reductions in expenses.
Second, during her term, the city “put money aside for capital projects” only at the minimum rate required by city financial policies, which is abysmally low relative to historical contribution rates.
Third, Milhaven and her council colleagues (including Dennis Robbins, Suzanne Klapp, and Mayor Jim Lane) have frequently voted to waive those city financial policies when such waivers enable them to hand out taxpayer-funded subsidies to their cronies.
Here’s Milhaven’s column:
Citizen participation critical for well-managed city
I respect honest differences of opinions based on facts. Unfortunately, the opinions recently shared in a Community Voices column by Councilman Bob Littlefield and his wife, Kathy, were tainted by the same misrepresentations, hyperbole and fear-mongering that characterized their campaign against the bonds.
Citizen involvement has always been an integral part of our community. It is for that reason the City Council appointed two different citizens’ Bond Task Forces to guide the bond process.
Over two years, these groups vetted more than $1 billion of potential projects. Their meetings were open to the public, and all the documents they reviewed were posted on the city’s website. The task forces ranked the projects in order of priority for our safety and quality of life.
In 2012, the council rejected the task force’s recommendation to place the bonds on the ballot, in part out of concern about the slow economic recovery. In 2013, the task force once again recommended a bond election. The council accepted its recommendation, and deleted some of the projects to reduce the cost of the bonds to $212 million.
Had the bonds been approved, another citizens’ group would have been appointed, as was done after other bond elections.
This group would have overseen the process and ensured that parks, libraries, streets, flood control and public safety projects were completed as promised.
Was the bond package too large or, in other words, more than people wanted to spend? If all the questions had been approved, it would have only cost the homeowner with an average assessed valuation home $60 a year. So was it the price tag or the value for the investment that concerned citizens?
As a community, we have a long history of valuing quality. Our quality of life is the reason many of us live here and is the most important thing we all agree we need to protect. Our willingness to invest in our community provided us with Scottsdale Stadium, Indian Bend Wash and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, to name a few. These are just some of our “good to haves” that have become points of pride.
Certainly, the City Council has a responsibility to protect our quality of life and ensure that citizens receive value for their tax dollars. The general fund budget for the current year is $230 million. That is $30 million less than our 2008-09 budget.
During my time on the council, we have reduced expenses while continuing to put money aside for capital projects. In fact, we contributed more to capital projects over the last few years than is required by our financial policies. We must continue to be vigilant in controlling expenses and making contributions to our capital needs. However, we cannot fund $212 million in bond projects from an already reduced budget of $230 million.
Today, it is easy to become disillusioned about government. But it is city government that provides the greatest opportunity for citizens to influence governmental decisions. Citizens participate on boards, commissions and task forces that impact City Council decisions. Citizens attend City Council meetings, call and send e-mails to tell us what they think. If you are concerned about what your City Council is doing, I urge you to get involved.
I am reminded that it is 10 times easier to evoke fear than enthusiasm. I prefer to be the optimist and work toward keeping Scottsdale special. I believe we value quality. I also believe in the importance of citizen participation. I reject the notion that we have turned into a community of conspiracy theorists who are unwilling to invest in our community.
Our quality of life depends on it.
Linda Milhaven is a member of the Scottsdale City Council.