Opinion

Milhaven: What’s the big idea?

Posted 5/24/22

Last week, City Council gave direction to staff to begin a conversation about the expiring Preserve tax. In 1995, residents approved a 2/10% sales tax to fund land acquisitions in the Preserve. That …

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Opinion

Milhaven: What’s the big idea?

Posted

Last week, City Council gave direction to staff to begin a conversation about the expiring Preserve tax. In 1995, residents approved a 2/10% sales tax to fund land acquisitions in the Preserve. That tax expires in 2025.

We can be very proud. We acquired over 30,000 acres, spending over $1 billion dollars to create the largest urban preserve in the country.

So, with the tax expiring in the next few years, we ask ourselves: What’s next?

Do we need a sales tax to maintain our current level of services? Our share of state shared revenues are declining as Scottsdale’s population growth slows. It is also predicted that the new state flat tax rate will further erode our income from the state. Should we consider a sales tax to offset these revenue losses?

Or, is there another big idea or other community wants or needs?

I imagined a broad community conversation with many different constituent groups from across the city. This group would consider ideas and make recommendations about whether or not we ask residents to replace the expiring tax and for what purpose.

If we follow the direction given by the majority of council members, this will not happen.

At a recent City Council meeting, the City Council majority gave direction to staff about how to move this conversation forward. The Council majority narrowed the scope of the conversation just to consider future needs of the Preserve, the Greenbelt and parks. However, most of the conversation focused on investments in the Preserve. Councilmember Whitehead made a passionate speech about the need to buy more land for the Preserve.

In addition, the Council majority wants to convene a working group of political appointees. This means the City Council majority can appoint people they know will give them the recommendations they want. It is an interesting turn from folks who say they listen to residents.

In the end, City Council has the responsibility to decide if we ask residents for the tax and for what purpose.

To get there, I believe the Council should identify constituencies that should be included in the working group, let staff select the members with direction to include a broad representation, provide lots of opportunity for additional community input and ask the group to consider all community needs,

What do you think? Please email the City Council at citycouncil@scottsdaleaz.gov.

Editor’s Note: Linda Milhaven is an elected member of Scottsdale City Council.

Comments

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  • jason.alexander

    Whitehead wants to raise your taxes.

    During Prop 420, amongst the leadership of that effort, we held various opinions about what would happen with the overage from the tax if the DDC was not built. Many of us believed strongly that the remaining land was too expensive, and too nondescript, to be worth the ridiculous inflated cost. Note that at this point Whitehead was campaigning for Council, and aligned but not involved particularly with the Prop 420 effort. She has since followed Mary Manross down the path of "finish the Preserve, no matter the cost." This is in keeping with her well-earned track record for fiscal looseness (free concerts, free CPR course, free access to ballfields). Again, Whitehead wants to raise your taxes to buy more land up north, and give away services that most fiscal conservatives feel should be pay-for-service. The reality is the Preserve needs maintenance, and investment in fire prevention. The legacy of Whitehead might just be expensive, burned patches of land because she put all the money preventing development rather than wildfire resources and prevention access.

    Tuesday, May 24 Report this

  • xway.mike.norton

    Our City does not come remotely close to taking care of what we already have. But for some bizarre reason Council Member Whitehead wants to buy even more land and create even more parks that will do nothing other than aggravate an already existing problem.

    The Preserve badly needs a comprehensive Fire Response plan and network. If tomorrow, a wind driven fire ripped through the Preserve we would learn quickly just how poorly we can deal with it. We would also learn through potential tragedy whether the huge cul de sac communities that front the Preserve can be evacuated in an emergency.

    I've never seen a traffic analysis for that type of emergency. Should that not be the single most important thought right now?

    Wednesday, May 25 Report this