Election

Ask the candidate: Is a Paradise Valley population decrease of concern?

Posted 6/16/22

The Town of Paradise Valley lost about 200 residents in the past decade, the latest U.S. Census shows. Is that a problem?

This week we ask the four Paradise Valley Town Council candidates about …

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Election

Ask the candidate: Is a Paradise Valley population decrease of concern?

Posted

The Town of Paradise Valley lost about 200 residents in the past decade, the latest U.S. Census shows. Is that a problem?

This week we ask the four Paradise Valley Town Council candidates about this slight decrease and the impact it may have on the municipality. Some point to the amount of state-shared revenues the town receives based on population growth, while others warn of the implications of having a town that sees less than 2% growth.

While 200 people isn’t too big of a factor, it can have implications on an already small town like Paradise Valley.

Read below to learn the perspectives of each candidate as they prepare for the Aug. 2 primary election, where voters will select three people to fill the open Town Council seats.

Ellen Andeen

• The 2020 U.S. Census shows Paradise Valley population has decreased slightly — the census shows the town lost about 200 residents over 10 years. Is this something to be concerned about?

While we show a slight decrease in our population of less than 2%, our data shows that the number of short-term rentals and homes purchased by corporations for that purpose have been the primary driver for the population decrease. The census was also conducted during COVID in April of 2020, and, with the seasonality of our residents, some may have not returned to Paradise Valley that year to been counted.

The town has six different sources of revenue that make up the general fund with intergovernmental comprising 10% of the total. As of February, fiscal year to date 2021-2022 there will be a slight decrease in state-shared revenue of 3% or $110,000. However, in budgeting for 2023 we are forecasting an increase. I’m not too concerned about our revenue decline in this bucket, as we have many more sources of revenue that are showing significant increases.

Our town is well capitalized with $70 million in cash reserves. I have sat on an investment sub-committee, when organized, with two other council members and the CFO. However, I’ve advocated for an investment committee during my tenure on council that is comprised of our resident experts. The town does not levy a property tax to our residents, and I continue to support that.

The more concerning part of this equation is the influx of corporate buyers to our overall mix in population and the changing of our neighborhoods. Along with, if our population continues to reduce and were to drop below 10,000 or not exceed a 2% growth rate, according to ARS Section 9-461.06, the general plan will not need voter ratification and would be adopted by the town council.

It is important our residents are informed and have input to our town’s general plan — being that is what will guide the town for the next 10 years. Something to be mindful about. The Census 2020 showed our population at 12,658.

Paul Dembow

• The 2020 U.S. Census shows Paradise Valley population has decreased slightly — the census shows the town lost about 200 residents over 10 years. Is this something to be concerned about?

With state and federal dollars riding on population, it is unfortunate that the town has lost residents in the census. This number will impact our revenue.

This said, we have built so many more residences over the last decade, and we have attracted more people who are living here, just not as their primary domicile, which is what counts in the census numbers.

If you take a look at our revenues, especially during the pandemic, our sales tax collection as a result of home deliveries has exploded. During my tenure on council, we have created a strong financial foundation for the town, and still managed to prevent implementation of a local property tax. We will be fine financially, and we can continue to enjoy the small town feeling Paradise Valley has, even though we’re sandwiched between Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Christine Labelle

• The 2020 U.S. Census shows Paradise Valley population has decreased slightly — the census shows the town lost about 200 residents over 10 years. Is this something to be concerned about?

It’s true that the population of Paradise Valley has lost approximately 200 residents. There are some cautionary consequences for Paradise Valley if this trend continues.

Take Sedona for example, a city that gained notoriety for its beautiful landscape, much as Paradise Valley is getting now. According to Sedona’s city attorney Kurt Christianson, “There is no authority in ARS Section §9-461.06 for voter ratification [of their general plan] because Sedona’s population is under 10,000 and has been growing at less than 2% per year.” Sedona’s population decline came largely due to non-primary and vacation rentals pushing out full time residents.

As seen throughout the years, many Paradise Valley residents tend to remain in their homes well past retirement and into their final days. As kids continue to grow and move away from Paradise Valley, our population naturally declines. And our quality of life and sentiment to our town parallels a love of our properties that’s not easily left behind. But there is hope.

Through my experience as a Paradise Valley Realtor, I feel there is a positive trend toward younger families moving in with school age children.

Buyers from all walks of life and around the world are eying Paradise Valley as a great place to raise a family. As a Paradise Valley resident and mother of twin daughters, I believe our town will be positively served by supporting this narrative and paying attention to what brings families here for generations:

  •  Good schools;
  •  Safe neighborhoods where you know your neighbor, with low traffic and strong public safety;
  •  Opportunities for them to be engaged in town affairs and volunteer activities where their voices are encouraged.

Declining populations can be a blessing and a curse. Low density and open space in a major metropolitan area like Phoenix or Scottsdale is rare indeed. But we always want and need to embrace the next generation who will inherit our love and understanding of our town and its history. It is our responsibility to create that for present and future Paradise Valley residents.

As your town council member, I will work tirelessly to maintain our high quality of life by ensuring town hall is listening to and engaging with our community. I humbly ask for your vote to elect me to the Paradise Valley Town Council and to learn more about me visit LabelleforPVCouncil.com.

Anna Thomasson

• The 2020 U.S. Census shows Paradise Valley population has decreased slightly — the census shows the town lost about 200 residents over 10 years. Is this something to be concerned about?

We are already special; we don’t need to be big. As a small, 14 square mile, land-locked community with strict zoning ordinances in an increasingly expensive real estate market, I am not surprised nor concerned by our lack of population growth. Most population growth in Maricopa County came from our outlying, affordable cities Queen Creek, Goodyear, Gilbert, Peoria, Litchfield Park and Surprise.

Although we will lose income as we receive a smaller percentage of the population-based, state shared revenue, we will still be very well funded by sales tax revenue from our world-class resorts. And we operate very frugally as a town. Making sure we work hard to stop the threats from short term rentals and other non-residential home uses that could further erode our population will remain a priority for me.

Our founders wanted to create a special place, very different from neighboring Phoenix and Scottsdale. We have done a great job so far and I’m confident we will continue to do so.

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