Phoenix City Council Still Spineless

I remained hopeful that perhaps Phoenix had finally hit bottom.  That it had sunk so low that it was willing to fight the stranglehold that land developers and the kookocracy had over it.  I was assuming that “Phoenix may get it right with a property tax hike“.

I was grossly mistaken.  The land consuming machine still reigns supreme here.  The City of Phoenix council showed itself spineless as it recoiled in fear and refused to do the responsible thing.  Instead they conveniently delayed the decision for two years.  It will delay $200 million in voter approved bond projects and reorganize debt instead.

We can talk about the Arizona We Want all day long.  We can even vote to fund the projects to build it.  The problem is that the Arizona We Want doesn’t align with the aspirations of budding politicians or growth starved land development megaliths.

Phoenix May Get It Right with Property Tax Hike

Today the City of Phoenix is considering raising property taxes.

No one really likes to talk about tax increases.  However, people love to talk about all the services they expect.  Health Care, Public Safety, Education, Parks and many more.  Someone has to pay for those services.  I believe a civilized society does provide those services and I am happy to pay into them.  Call me a Socialist.  I have been called much worse.

The truth is if we want to be competitive we have to offer the best and brightest an environment worth living in.  The land development baron’s here have stagnated us in more ways than unending sprawl.

The state/local tax burden ranking in Arizona has dropped 24 places from 17th highest in 1977 to 41st in 2008, and the residents here now pay the tenth-lowest tax burden. Most of the change came in the wake of a property tax limitation in 1980, and the state’s ranking has changed little since. Estimated now at 8.5% of income, Arizona’s state/local tax burden percentage is below the national average of 9.7%. Arizona taxpayers pay $3,244 per capita in state and local taxes.

The easiest way to right size this is to raise property taxes.  Now is the time to do this.  As property values have plummeted an increase in property tax will still probably show an overall lower tax bill than previous years.  This makes it nearly unnoticeable to most residents.  It will help control growth and help fund our future.  Kudos to Phoenix for finally considering this after 14 years of stagnation.  I wish other communities would do the same.

Disclosure: I am a property owner.

Shop Local vs Shop Local Get the Picture?

Arizona is definitely in a financial crisis and as part of that there has been a lot about shopping locally.  This is seen as a primary way to help stimulate the local economy.  I have noticed that many metro area cities have instituted their own Shop Local programs (Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe).  I am a fan of supporting the local business owner.  I think it makes good sense both economically and for the community in general.

However, I have three criticisms about the whole shopping local movement:

1. The shop local programs are pushing shop in your “tax district”, that is if you live in Chandler, shop in Chandler.  They make no distinction about shopping at the Chandler Starbucks vs the Chandler local coffee house.  While I absolutely agree that just keeping the tax dollars in your community is a healthy start, it still doesn’t help educate about supporting the locally owned business.

2. There is too much hate being spilled on chains.  Chains are not a bad thing as a whole.  We need a healthy mix of chain and local to get our needs met and keep prices low.  Whatever happened to things in moderation?

3. There are always numbers cited, but never reference to the studies they were derived from.  I fully suspect money spent locally has a better chance of staying locally, but we need to put citation when numbers are used.

So the next time you are out and have your wallet open.  Ask yourself a few things…

1. Am I spending money in my tax district and thus making sure the majority of the tax I am paying goes towards the operation of the place I live?

2. Am I getting enough convenience and/or price discount to justify not meeting and supporting someone providing the same service/product that might be my next door neighbor?

I believe it’s okay to shop at Wal-Mart, Target, Fry’s, etc.  As long as you are aware of the options and the various effects.  I think people should be more conscious about how they spend their money and who they support, but at the end of the day, it’s still their choice. 🙂