I saw this article this AM and for just one brief moment I was almost giddy. Or as Chris Matthews puts it, I had a tingle go up my leg”. But then I read the whole thing and came crashing back to earth.
Four southeast Valley mayors challenged the Legislature on Tuesday to overhaul Arizona’s tax system and think more creatively about how to solve the state’s monumental budget problems.
In the process, they warned lawmakers not to pass down those problems to cities and towns, which have been largely successful in coping with their own fiscal issues.
Read the last paragraph one more time. We will come back to it again. The story continues.
Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe have coped with drops in sales taxes and development revenue. The mayors said local budget tweaks won’t solve the underlying problem of an unstable state tax system.
“Most of us . . . are funded by sales tax to a large degree,” said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. “And that is a very volatile sector. . . . It’s not going to get better, because the cities don’t have the opportunity to change that model. It’s going to have to be done at the state level.”
Hallman said Arizona should rely less on sales taxes and more on property taxes.
And right there is the money line. These four mayors “new way od thinking” is to shift the burden from our sales tax dollars to our property tax dollars. Pardon me sirs, but isn’t that just a sideways move? You are really just moving the problem out of my left pocket and putting it in my right pocket. The big Red Flag here; while sales taxes are based upon a definitive transaction, property taxes are based upon an “arbitrary” number. I know that there are “formulas” to follow, blah blah blah. With a stroke of the pen, sorry with the click of a mouse, our property taxes can go up, based upon nothing but a finger in the wind appraisal of all of our properties. Either way the tax burden still ends up in my mailbox, yours too.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said that when his city faced a $61 million budget gap last fall, officials decided it wouldn’t work just to cut jobs without overhauling operations. “Cutting is a temporary solution, and what we’re looking for is more of a long-term solution, which means you have to change the way you do business,” he said.
Remember earlier in the post when I referenced that money line, “They warned lawmakers not to pass down those problems to cities and towns”? Rather than come up with some actual new creative ideas, these four mayors are using the same old tired ideas, just re-wrapped for the holidays. I have already played “three card monty” and I know how it turns out everytime. Perhaps our elected officials could and should be looking to others for “new ideas”. heck, you don’t even need new ideas. Look to states that are prospering in this economy. Again I reference Texas. No state income tax, low unemployment, a growing economy and they are in the black. Remember when you where in school? Didn’t you always try and sit next to the smart kid so you could copy off of him? Maybe we should send our elected officials on a field trip. They certainly aren’t learning anything sitting here at home. Back to the drawing board, Mr. Mayor[s].