Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tell PHX City Council, "NO ENDLESS TAX!"

This Wednesday afternoon, January 30, the Phoenix City Council will decide whether or not to refer an ENDLESS TAX to the May 20th ballot.

The current parks and preservation tax, enacted in 1999, is set to expire next year. Last week, the Phoenix City Council’s policy committee chose unanimously to move forward with a proposal to extend that tax “in perpetuity.”

If the ENDLESS TAX goes to the May 20th ballot, and if it passes (thanks in part to low voter turnout for a May election), that would mean the tax would NEVER come up for review again.

The Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, a state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, suggests that Phoenix taxpayers ask Mayor Gordon and City Council members several very important questions:

1) Doesn’t an endless tax give city politicians a never-ending blank check?

2) Shouldn’t taxes sunset every ten years, so as to provide accountability, and allow citizens to periodically review city practices?

3) Do we really need this tax? The current tax has mainly been used to acquire and develop park lands, but the ENDLESS TAX would increasingly be used to pay for maintenance and operations functions, including park rangers and security. Isn’t that just a revenue source looking for a purpose?

4) Why has the City Council failed to use private-sector alternatives, such as taking competitive bids and granting private companies the right to operate exclusive concessions in parks (such as sports facilities, snack bars, or nature tours) in return for providing maintenance, landscaping, security, and other services?

5) Why put the ENDLESS TAX on the May ballot, when a much more substantial voter turnout will occur in the November general election?

If possible, please attend the Phoenix City Council meeting this Wednesday, January 30th, beginning at 3:00 p.m., to register your opposition to the ENDLESS TAX. The City Council meets at 200 W. Jefferson, downtown. The ENDLESS TAX is Item #71, and is listed as Ordinance S. 34726

If you cannot attend the meeting, please send an email to the Mayor and to your City Council Members:

To find your council district, visit this site:


Here are the emails for the Mayor and City Council members:

Phil Gordon, Mayor, mayor.gordon@phoenix.gov
Thelda Williams, District 1, council.district.1@phoenix.gov
Peggy Neely, District 2, council.district.2@phoenix.gov
Maria Baier, District 3, council.district.3@phoenix.gov
Tom Simplot, District 4,

Claude Mattox, District 5, council.district.5@phoenix.gov
Greg Stanton, District 6, greg.stanton@phoenix.gov
Michael Nowakowski, District 7, council.district.7@phoenix.gov
Michael Johnson, District 8, michael.johnson@phoenix.gov

Note: the May 20th vote on the ENDLESS TAX would be the City’s second tax vote in less than a year. The City Council put the Prop 1 sales tax increase on the September ballot to get an additional $60 million a year for police and fire, after choosing to underfund police and fire budgets, despite having ample revenues.

Also note: The current tax, which is one-tenth of one percent on sales in Phoenix, will have raised over $200 million by the time it expires. Out of a $124 million annual parks budget, fewer than one million dollars come from self-funded enterprise functions. Expanded private concessions could easily replace the $15 million annual revenue from the ENDLESS TAX.

For more on operating parks through private concessions, see the Reason Public Policy Institute’s report on managed competition programs in San Diego:


From the Reason report: “Cost savings from outsourcing recreation facilities operation and management typically range from 19 to 52 percent. Cost savings from outsourcing park landscaping and maintenance range from 10 to 28 percent.”

Tom Jenney
Executive Director
Federation of Taxpayers
A state chapter of Americans for Prosperity

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