By Paula Sturgeon & Mike Norton
Last year Scottsdale politics was dominated by the “Desert Discovery Center” debate. We were on opposite sides of that debate, sometimes taking direct swipes at each other on social media.
But we are putting those differences aside now, this year, for something all of us should be able to agree on: improving our parks, senior services, community infrastructure and public safety via Questions 1, 2 & 3 on Scottsdale’s November ballot.
It’s been two decades since Scottsdale has passed a meaningful bond plan to help and enhance the Scottsdale we love. From 2007 through the early part of this decade the recession hurt many of so badly, many of us had to say no to any taxes. The recession has passed. Scottsdale’s economy is vibrant, like much of the State. Today the it’s time to invest in this City that we all love.
Learning the lessons of previous bond proposals that failed, Mayor Lane and the Scottsdale City Council have smartly and unanimously put forward a package that was the result of compromise and citizen feedback.
Unlike some previous packages that could correctly be described as driven by politicians this was the result of Scottsdale’s rising citizen engagement. In many ways it is the people’s plan.
Back in 2000 Scottsdale voters passed $358 million in bonds, backed by secondary property taxes, that have funded the libraries, bike paths, ball fields, parks, swimming pools, public safety facilities and roads that make our quality of life so enviable.
But that was almost twenty years ago! Some of our infrastructure is now crumbling. The bridge at 68th Street and Indian School has been closed for months causing traffic nightmares for some of our southern city residents. Our beautiful Civic Center Mall where City Hall, the Center for Performing Arts and many community events take place is crumbling. Parts of it have also been closed for months with emergency repairs necessary.
This is not Scottsdale at its best.
Passing Questions 1, 2 & 3 in November, however, will restore Scottsdale to its best. The package is for $319 million, less than that authorized so long ago. Ironically, because the time has been considerable since Scottsdale fixed its infrastructure and created new amenities for the community, the financing for those projects is being retired.
That means even if we pass the new bond projects in 2019 our property taxes will still be going down. That’s also because Scottsdale has more properties paying taxes than it did in 2000 and valuations have gone up which means everyone else pays less. So, by voting “Yes” in November we help Scottsdale stay an enviable community and will still see our taxes go down. If that’s not compelling we don’t know what is. This should be the first election in democracy’s history to win 100% to zero.
And because of Scottsdale’s robust business and tourism base local property and sales taxes continue to be lower than those in most other Valley cities. Scottsdale bond ratings remain at all time highs too. Scottsdale is one of only 30 cities nationwide with a AAA Bond rating. We are recognized nationally for our prudent use of debt.
Let’s return to our thoughts about last year and the rancorous debate that took place. It’s a sign of a great community that people felt as passionately as they did to engage as they did. With that issue now resolved let’s use that energy to propel Scottsdale forward in new, extraordinarily positive ways. Good neighbors and citizens put aside personal conflicts to act in the best interest of all of our community. This Bond election is not about people liking or disliking each other. This Bond election is about recognizing that all of our neighbors count on us to make the right decision for the City. It starts by voting Yes in November.
We hope you will join us in this campaign. All our welcome. And all are needed for the best possible Scottsdale.