Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.
Scottsdale voters will consider bond program in November.
(SCOTTSDALE) — Questions 1, 2 and 3 on the November ballot are not like previous bond programs put before voters.
As smartly constructed by the Scottsdale City Treasurer, City Manager and City Council, this year’s bonds are very sound for taxpayers in addition to the important investments they make in public safety, parks and recreation as well as overdue infrastructure repairs in 58 projects across Scottsdale.
The original bond program called for between $700 million and $800 million in projects and there was relatively little public participation process. That mirrored some past bond plans that voters turned down.
But this time the process changed. Scottsdale City Council members pushed for a series of public meetings and a higher priority and fiscally responsible project list. The result is a list of 58 projects put on the ballot by a unanimous City Council. The cost of the bonds was pared down from between $700 million and $800 million to $319 million. That move is key for taxpayers and fiscal responsibility.
Those important $319 million investments in our community will have negligible impacts on Scottsdale homeowners’ secondary property tax bills, according a financial analysis of the bonds from the City Treasurer’s Office.
While the new bond program will cost the average Scottsdale property owning household just under 29 cents per day or $108 per year, it will be offset by the debt being retired from the city’s $358 million package in 2000 as well as more properties with greater values being added to the tax rolls.
According to the Scottsdale City Treasurer, this means impacted secondary property taxes, the funding source for the bonds, are still likely to go down even if all three questions pass on the November ballot. This is markedly different from recent bond and infrastructure proposals that would have seen a clear tax hike.
Scottsdale City Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield effectively summarized the structure in an opinion piece in June. “If the bonds are approved, the plan is for slipping them in slowly as current bonds are paid off to keep the cost near current levels. This may result in a small decrease of the City’s portion of your property tax bill over the life of the bonds,” Littlefield wrote.
Scottsdale is also able to take advantage of its strong credit scores from the three top bond rating agencies. Scottsdale is one of the few cities in the U.S. with top credit scores from all three bond rating agencies. This means Scottsdale can borrow at lower interest rates for the infrastructure upgrades, a dynamic that is again good for taxpayers.
“As they should, we know Scottsdale voters have questions about the bond projects and their financial and tax impact. The dynamic around the new bonds is very different than during past bond campaigns and proposals when many of those proposals lost. The questions before voters bolster public safety, parks and senior centers. They also make great financial sense for taxpayers and our community,” said Andrea Alley, co-chair of the For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Vote Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3.
The public process and financially smart approach to the bonds has attracted support for Questions 1, 2 and 3 from people such as Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and Councilman Guy Phillips who opposed bond proposals in the past.
“The bonds are a smart investment and financial choice for Scottsdale. The three bond questions will build new fire stations, repair crumbling infrastructure at Civic Center Plaza and the southern end of Indian Bend Wash, renovate police stations and expand senior centers.,” said Dana Close, co-chair of the For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Vote Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3.
The bonds have garnered support from a diverse coalition of backers including neighborhood advocates and community activists as well as leading groups such as the Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, Scottsdale Charros, The Thunderbirds, Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, DC Ranch Community Council, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, Barrett-Jackson and Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors.
All the bond projects can be seen here: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/elections/bond-2019-project-list