Guest Editorial: If You Are Frustrated, Fix The City Council — Don’t Punish Scottsdale

By Joanne Copper Phillips, COGS PC Chairperson —

Participating in the in the bond campaign steering committee has been a unique experience; working alongside folks who have rarely been on the same side as me on any issue…yet here we stand, united, to encourage voters to invest in Scottsdale with infrastructure repairs, parks and recreation updates and expansion, and improved public safety facilities and technology to serve our growing community. This is about you and me-us- and maintaining the quality and beauty of our home, Scottsdale, on November 5!

Support for the three bond measures is substantial, but some residents have reservations. I completely understand the mistrust. Council has approved nearly every developer request for rezoning, increased height and density despite ongoing resident objections. Bonus height and density for paltry public benefits, inadequate parking, rezoning, upzoning, the list goes on. Thoughtful, planned and compatible growth has always been my approach and what I pushed for when I ran for Council seven years ago. If you don’t like what the majority council members are approving, vote in candidates who favor your opinions in 2020.

The bonds are a completely different issue-don’t jeopardize our tourism and tax base, don’t punish our seniors, children and community by refusing the repairs and upgrades we desperately need. We need to step up to repair and enhance our parks, senior centers, public safety and other important infrastructure. 

The pace of development has nothing to do with antiquated technology at our police stations. Nothing to do with adding needed adult-day care at a senior center or improving important social service centers like Paiute or increasing parking at Pinnacle Peak Park because people love it so much. Building new parks and fire stations, fixing leaking lakes in old parks and doing the basics at WestWorld so it can be an even better economic engine for the city is what we do for us, for our city, for our community.

I could go on. But hopefully you get the point.  Whether one is in a high-growth environment or a slower growth one, that community still needs good infrastructure. And you don’t pay for it with band aids from the General Fund.  You finance planned projects that meet current and future needs, especially in the low-interest rate environment we now enjoy.

Anyone who lives in Scottsdale knows it is special. And one of the reasons is that those who came before us invested in superb public infrastructure like the Indian Bend Wash, Civic Center Plaza and the best, natural “infrastructure” of all, our beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Now it is our turn. I trust the plan put together by my fellow “thoughtful growthers” like Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield, Councilwoman Solange Whitehead and Councilman Guy Phillips. They and the entire City Council did a great job putting together a transparent and thorough infrastructure package for voters to consider. And they did so with the most favorable structure ever proposed for taxpayers when it comes to such improvements. Because the financing for bonds used for the last community upgrades nearly 20 years ago are being retired our secondary property taxes, the source of payment for these projects, keep going down. That decrease combined with increased property valuations throughout the city almost certainly means our impacted taxes will continue to go down even if all three “Questions” in November pass. That was smart.

It is easy to get frustrated with government and say they spend too much or are not doing everything right. That’s true. But Scottsdale also enjoys the best bond ratings in the nation and has been a reasonable and responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.

I get the frustration with other matters.  But ultimately, that should not cloud the clear needs Scottsdale has to help keep it the very special place it is. While I often question a lot of other proposals, I am convinced of the need to approve these very specific projects. In some cases, they are acute needs.  I hope you will join me in voting “Yes” on Questions 1, 2 and 3.

Joanne Copper Phillips is a Scottsdale resident, community advocate and is one of the leaders of the Coalition for Greater Scottsdale.