Scottsdale City Councilman Bob Littlefield had a good “My Turn” column in yesterdays’ Republic. It’s not yet online, at least not that I can see. The Republic’s strategy (or lack thereof) for coordinating print and online coverage is a complete mystery to me. So, I’ll reprint it here. However, you may also see similar discussion in an earlier Edward Gately article from a couple of weeks ago.
My Turn: Bob Littlefield
Scottsdale economic plan resurrects rejected ideas
The old saying, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,” was never more true than earlier this month when the city unveiled our latest “Economic Development Strategic Plan Framework.” First, the history:
» In 1999 Scottsdale voters rejected the Canals of Scottsdale, a proposed “Cultural Theme Park” that would have transferred millions of taxpayer dollars and private property stolen via condemnation to favored special interests.
» In 2000 and 2002, Scottsdale voters elected candidates (including myself) who promised to cancel a failed downtown taxing district and two failed downtown redevelopment districts (we made good on those promises!).
» In 2004 Scottsdale voters overwhelmingly rejected (83 percent to 17 percent) a subsidized Walmart on the old Los Arcos Mall site.
» In 2010 Scottsdale voters approved City Charter amendments making it harder for the city to condemn private property or to subsidize private interests with taxpayer dollars.
Bottom line, the voters of Scottsdale have many times made it clear at the ballot box they understand that private enterprise is the engine that creates prosperity, not government.
Sadly, in Scottsdale no bad idea ever totally dies. Instead, every few years they rise from the dead, like vampires, hoping to sink their fangs into the taxpayers’ wallets. Exhibit A that this is true is the city’s newly-minted “Economic Development Strategic Plan Framework.” It contains many of the failed (not to mention rejected by Scottsdale voters) policies of the past, such as redevelopment districts, special taxing districts and lots of “reinvestment” (a fancy word for subsidies of taxpayer dollars). It also predictably calls for a big expansion of the city bureaucracy. For example, the consultant who prepared this report suggested that we should triple or even quadruple the size of our Economic Development Department.
In trying to bring new businesses to Scottsdale, I have spoken with many relocation specialists who work with companies deciding where to locate their facilities. They all say the same thing —the No. 1 thing these companies are looking for is not subsidies, or economic-development bureaucracies, or special taxing districts. It’s a high quality of life.
The same qualities that make Scottsdale a great place to live and for tourists to visit (and spend money) also make our community attractive to business executives. They love our clean, safe community with lots of open space, unobstructed views of our stunning natural landscape, low density and Western character. They also like our relatively low taxes.
Having run my own computer services company I understand what it takes for businesses to succeed. I moved to Scottsdale and started my business here because of our high quality of life, not the city bureaucracy. And I most certainly didn’t request, expect or receive a taxpayer subsidy.
We all want Scottsdale to be a good place for businesses and their employees to be able to produce prosperity for themselves and for Scottsdale’s residents. But creating a bigger bureaucracy, passing out taxpayer dollars or compromising our high standards for development won’t make that happen. Keeping Scottsdale special will.
Bob Littlefield is a Scottsdale city councilman and candidate for state Legislature. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.