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Letters: Council candidate breaks down new taxes in Surprise


In case you hadn’t heard, recently enacted Arizona state policies have negatively impacted the city of Surprise budget by about $14.3 million and would have caused a large reduction in service had the city not made $2.5 million in budget cuts, raised the sales tax rate by 0.6% and reduced local primary property taxes by 25%.

I recently attended nine weeks of the Surprise City Academy to get a thorough refresher on all departments. This was the second time in five years that I had attended, with the first being prior to my election to the board of The Grand (formerly Sun City Grand, a 17,000 person HOA).

From what I observed at the Academy, not only are all of the existing city services being fully utilized by the community, but some services do not have enough funding for additional programs or staff to efficiently meet the needs of some segments of the community.

It is much too easy for outsiders to say that the city hasn’t done enough to reduce the budget, when they are not the ones who are analyzing the data and crunching numbers on a daily basis, because the outsiders don’t know what they don’t know.

Here is the good news: Using publisher data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Phoenix metro area, the average annual household expenditure is about $70,000 per year, with about 12% of that going to items that are affected by local sales tax (this of course varies based on a person’s spending habits).

So on an annual basis, $8,400 would be subject to local sales tax (and uniquely to the West Valley, the city of Surprise does not charge sales tax on groceries). The current city of Surprise sales tax of 2.2% on that $8,400 would be $185 annually. The tax at the new rate of 2.8% would be $235 annually. That is an increase of $50 for the year.

For those who own homes in Surprise, the city portion of the property tax has been reduced by 25%. My own annual portion of property tax that goes to Surprise is $203. That will be lowered by 25% to $152, which is a reduction of $51. So the annual effect that these tax changes will have on me is $1.

Now you renters should say “what about me?” Well the answer is that the Arizona State Legislature just eliminated the rental tax that renters will pay to Surprise, so if your rent is $2,000, the monthly rent tax is $44, annualized it is $528. Deduct the bump in the sales tax of $50 and you just saved $478 annually.

Earle Greenberg is running unopposed for the Surprise City Council in District 2. Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.