Hand in Your Pocket

Posted on April 28, 2006 | Author: Noah Clarke
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If Proposition 402 passes on May 16, Scottsdale residents will be $80 million poorer.

Twenty-six years ago, Arizona voters enacted a Constitutional Amendment limiting the spending growth of cities and towns to corresponding increases in population. Unfortunately, there is no requirement that cities and towns return revenue collected above that limit to taxpayers. Now, the extra money simply accumulates.
 
Scottsdale's 2005 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report shows $85 million in unreserved, undesignated funds. In other words, the city has collected at least $85 million in excess taxes.
 
Backers of the spending increase say their proposal means giving voters more government services without higher taxes. That's one way to look at it. However, the proposal might look different if voters could decide between additional spending and receiving a tax refund check.
 
Scottsdale should live within its means. If the city needs to spend more on police and fire services, it could start by eliminating unnecessary programs like the $3 million it spends on Westworld's tent or the $2 million it pours into public swimming pool management, to name just two. Private companies could handle these jobs.
 
Scottsdale should prioritize spending, not spend more.
 
Noah Clarke is an economist with the Goldwater Institute Center for Economic Prosperity.

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