AFPF-Arizona’s Local Government Scorecard for the 2014 fiscal year (its 7th annual local scorecard) covers 106 Arizona cities, counties and special-purpose taxing districts, and 670 local officials. The Scorecard grades local officials on overall budgets, property tax levies and sales tax changes, and includes yearly scores for current officials going back to the 2008 fiscal year, as well as cumulative averages. AFPF-Arizona’s Local Government Scorecard for the 2013 fiscal year comes out at a time when many local governments in Arizona are finalizing tax and budget plans for the 2014 fiscal year.
For the Local Government Scorecard with cumulative scores for FYs 2008-2013, click HERE.
For FY 2014 sub-scores on budgets, property tax levies and sales tax changes, click HERE.
(For local officials who left office after 2012, see our FY 2013 Scorecard, which has cumulative scores going back to FY 2008.)
Later this year, AFPF-Arizona will present its 2014 John W. Dawson Local Hero Award to the Arizona local official who has made the greatest impact in defending taxpayers.
AFPF-Arizona encourages local officials to make sure that budgets and tax levies do not grow faster than the private economy on which they depend. AFPF-Arizona’s slow-growth year scoring rubric for the 2014 fiscal year allowed local governments to raise their total approved budgets and their total property tax levies by five percent without earning negative points. Given the continued sluggishness of the economy, and given the difficulties faced by families and businesses in the private sector, AFPF-Arizona believes the Scorecard’s allowances were generous.
AFPF-Arizona relies on the final approved budgets and levies reported in Schedules A and B —the state-required documents that are included as appendices in most local government budgets. Unfortunately, in 2013, a dozen municipalities failed to post those schedules online, despite the fact that they are required to do so under A.R.S. 42-17103, and despite an offer by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to post the documents on its website. AFPF-Arizona will update past and present scorecards to incorporate missing data, if city officials will send us links to Schedules A and B and to the council minutes for the meetings in which those budgets and levies received final approval.
AFPF-Arizona regrets that its Local Government Scorecard (which as far as we know is the only one of its kind in the country) can only grade changes to aggregate budgets, and cannot go into line-item detail within budgets. Taxpayers should be advised that a high score for a local government body does not entail AFPF-Arizona’s endorsement of every line item in that government’s budget for the fiscal year. Even in the best-run local governments (as measured by annual changes to overall budgets), vigilant taxpayers are still likely to find boondoggles and wasteful programs that should be reduced or eliminated.
For the full spreadsheet, which includes links to budget documents and meeting minutes, as well as email contacts for local officials, email AFPF-Arizona at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFPF-Arizona thanks research associate Caleb Rhodes for his help in completing this year’s Scorecard.