In the worst of times, Mayor Phil Gordon cooks up a tax on food

We read that Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and some of his council minions are so “desperate to avert layoffs of police officers, firefighters and other city workers,” that they have approved a 2 percent sales tax on groceries intended to generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for city services.

The tax will create an estimated $12.5 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30 and another $50 million next fiscal year. 

The original budget proposal called for the elimination of 1,379 city positions, including nearly 500 layoffs to police officers and firefighters.

We consider these numbers scare tactics, since Phoenix voters have passed funding mechanisms for police and fire funding each time they are brought before them. Proposition 1, on the ballot just a little over two years ago, included a sales tax hike intended to hire 500 new police officers and 100 new firefighters.

At the time, Gordon said: “Instead of hiring 80 or 90 police officers and eight or 10 firefighters every year, a yes vote will put 600 new public safety personnel on the streets in just two years. That is a significant increase that will have meaningful results.”

Gordon, who frequently travels the globe on taxpayer funded trips, called a special meeting yesterday so the council could vote on the tax proposal. He cited figures showing the average family of four spends about $12,000 a year on groceries. That would amount to about $240 in extra taxes.

In this stressful economy, when jobless numbers are soaring and record numbers of families are losing their homes to foreclosure, taxing groceries is the nifty plan cooked up by our illustrious mayor.

Council members voted 6-3 in favor of the tax, with Council members Sal DiCiccio, Bill Gates and Peggy Neely voting in opposition. Call and thank them.

Seeing Red AZ recently noted that the City of Phoenix paid $14.3 million to 6,989 employees in unconscionable “retention bonuses.”  That’s $2 million more than the food tax would bring in this fiscal year.

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14 Responses to In the worst of times, Mayor Phil Gordon cooks up a tax on food

  1. brian says:

    i will be shopping somewhere other than phoenix.

  2. Another LD11 PC says:

    It should be (unfortunately) noted that Mark Spencer of PLEA, whom conservatives often work with on anti-illegal-immigration matters, not only testified in favor of the 2% tax, he said that the 2% tax does not go far enough and he said it should be 4%!

    Unbelievable. The conservative sellout of conservative values has never been more shamelessly on display when it goes against ones personal interests.

    Guess what. That is a perfect demonstration of LACK OF PRINCIPLE.

    A PRINCIPLE is something you stand for even to your own detriment and even when it hurts.

    PLEA sold out all conservatives yesterday. I’m ashamed and I will never trust them again.

  3. Jon Altmann, PC, State Committeeman LD11 says:

    Hats off to Bill Gates, Sal DiCiccio and Peggy Neely for saying “NO.”
    It is not known how many of the 300+ threaten police officer layoffs are really open positions. (Fire is fully staffed, so any cuts to them will close down fire stations).
    For the record, and to be fair, Gordon’s overseas trips were not funded with city money, as has been pointed out in previous media reports. Private business sources have paid for them.
    But what is needed are some belt-tightening measures.
    When I ran for Phoenix City Council in 2007 against Maria Baier (who quit after 17 months on the job), 44% of the voters in District 3 voted for me and agreed that in 2007 we needed to reign in the budget.
    Now, surprise, about three years later we’re in deep trouble! And it could have been avoided.
    This is a bad idea to tax working families and seniors for the first time in more than 25 years for their groceries!
    When state employees are taking layoffs and across the board pay cuts, the city needs to take a page from that and cut back.
    Why pay “retention bonuses” when there is 10% unemployment, including unemployment in the ranks of other experienced government workers who have been laid off?
    As a businessman, I’ve had to cut back. My wife and I drive cars that are both from the 90s – heck, I am not even at the Scott Brown pick-up stage – I am at the economy car (that did not qualify on the clunker list).
    I don’t think we have to lay off city employees, but there are other options.
    Perhaps it is time to consider a ballot initiative to curb the City of Phoenix on this one and send a message.
    Support the 3 council members who said stop, study and learn before voting.
    We cannot afford more of the same during tough times.

  4. Kathy says:

    All the while Gordon’s 5-star boy Harris is double-dipping – receiving a salary & pension for the same job! Corruption runs high in the Phx PD & in the City Council.

  5. Lisa says:

    You are going to have to shop in Mesa or Suprise to avoid a food tax. Those are the only cities that dont have one.

  6. Standing Tall says:

    This appalling behavior demonstrates the complete disregard in which the people are held by the elected “leaders.” No wonder the “throw the bums out” mentality is so pervasive these days.

  7. Another LD11 PC says:

    Jon Altmann,

    Didn’t you support the Paradise Valley School district override, stating that anyone who opposes it opposes good education for students?

    And it appears that Paradise Valley School district immediately turned around after the override to spend half a mill to “green” their offices.

    http://prop13arizona.org/Documents/PVUSD%20spends%20$475,000.%20greening%20offices%2012-23-09.jpg

    Just like Phoenix is spending millions now “greening” their offices.

    I’d just like to see a little more consistency out of those who like to call themselves “conservatives”.

    Yes, thank you to Gates, Neely and DiCiccio for voting no yesterday. That said, Neely implied in her comments, that she doesn’t necessarily OPPOSE the tax increase, she believes it should be referred to an (off-cycle) vote of the people.

    Read: off-cycle city elections = < 5% of all voters, most of whom are union or paid on the city dime when they go to vote.

    Let's be straight and not parse words here.

  8. Jon Altmann, PC, State Committeeman LD11 says:

    Another LD11 PC — absolutely I suppported the PVUSD override, along with 60% of the voters and most of who voted were Republicans. School districts offer the most local control of your tax money with a school governing board that serves without any pay (unlike other elected offices).

    Education ties directly to the economy – businesses that brings good paying jobs locate where there are solid education systems. And even with the override, the PVUSD is still planning to cut some more. I supported them because they had proven already they were managing their costs down and had taken out top positions.

    But then again, remember, Republicans have kids in schools and their schools are closest to them than the GOP party line or even this blog. Those voters did get a say. Phoenix voters did not yesterday.

    Finally, the budgeting mechanism that public school live with is long overdue for a thorough rework by the Legislature – but it is doubtful it will happen soon. What should happen is a funding system that rewards productivity, quality and efficiency, while still fulfilling the Arizona Constitution’s stated requirement for equal educational opportunity for all Arizona kids.

    You can’t have a platform that lacks the grounding in an established Constitutional requirement. Unless, of course, you wish to invite lots of lawsuits.

    A “fund all across the board via a grocery sales tax,” coming on top of a possible additional state sales tax – and coming before even the city budget hearings were heard tends to make folks feel disenfranched. I expected a better planning by folks at City Hall. I am pleased with the “No” votes that were made, but any debate of why those members voted “No” is another speculation outside all this.

    In the case of the school votes, no one got disenfranchised. In fact, the vote was taken during a November Presidential election year, a time of greatest potential turnout.

    That is quite different than the City Council calling a meeting at the last minute and putting something on the ledger.

    So, your point is?

    Finally, “Another LD 11 PC” I don’t know who you are, but I have been honest enough to put my name on the postings. How about you coming out of the shadows? After all, if you are really an elected Precinct Committeeman in my District, we should be both up for a civil floor debate. Show me your courage and while we may not agree, you’ll have my respect.

  9. Jon Altmann, you’ll get a new school funding formula when Prop 13 Arizona is passed into law. It eliminates primary and secondary tax designations on which the current formula is based.

    Voting for higher property taxes is costly. Every $100 increase in property taxes reduces the value of your property by $1,200.

    http://www.Prop13Arizona.com

    Limit property taxes – generate economic growth

  10. Another LD11 PC says:

    Jon Altmann,

    Unfortunately your longer-winded reply boils down to taxes = prosperity. Can you not come up with an out-of-the-box solution which is not the standard

    “if the government does not tax and spend the money, then we’re all going to die”

    response?

    Dig down deep I know there’s got to be more or better or more innovative thoughts within you than that.

  11. Jon Altmann, PC, State Committeeman LD11 says:

    Dear “Another LD 11 PC, when you come out of the shadows, I’ll be more engaging. I speak to fellow Republicans I know when questionned, not to pen names. If you know me well, then you have my phone and private email if you’re afraid to ID yourself on this blog site. This ole Navy senior chief doesn’t bite, but I when engaged in direct conversations on a blog site, I’ll converse when someone is going to be a shipmate and show themselves.

    There is no out of the box solution to either the State or City’s budget woes. Each has different services and priorities. Each needs its own business plan. We should not legislate the legislators – for if we do, why do we need elected officials then?

    In the case of the City, I have run for that office before. My position remains the same – public safety is a priority. Essential city services are a priority. Those things approved by the voters in days gone by need to be rechecked over time – and asked if they want it back on the ballot to again, given hard times. I campaigned in 2007 that it was time to start taking a hard look at the budget and separating “essential” from “nice to have” because I said then challenging times were coming.

    We must preserve some foundational quality to the city and its infrastructure, otherwise we will not be a consideration by other major firms to locate here (and by “major firm” I don’t mean another WalMart or shopping center).

    Gosh, I guess I was right and Maria Baier was wrong. And then she quit. And 44% of CCD3 agreed with me and today my guess is a greater group would, too, because the light bulb went on after the cash draw started running short. Unfortunately, if there had been the drive in 2007 to ask tough questions and plan ahead, Mayor Gordon, et. al, would not have to even think of a food tax.

    I am not convinced that Phoenix is being the best steward of our money yet. However, I give them high marks over time for one thing – they have always made available a detailed budget and when I asked questions they were forthright in getting me answers.

    I will give Gov. Brewer’s budget high marks – it is the first time in a very long time that any governor of any party has published that detailed of a budget.

    The City’s budget hearings are coming up very fast. Councilman Gates just did a robodial yesterday, at his own expense, asking folks to attend the two budget hearings he is holding in CCD3. If you have closelly followed city politics, that is a profound change.

    So, come out of the shadows and voice your opinion, if you are a Phoenix CCD3 taxpayer – if not, attend the one you are a voter in.

    My solution at this point is to support Councilman Gates because he and Councilman DiCiccio have made the profound change I campaigned for in 2007 – it is no longer a process of “go along, get along council agenda” anymore. Finally, we are getting thoughtful people asking tough questions to the details.

    I am not going to interrput two good Republicans in their quest at this point, in defference to allow them to fulfill the offices I supported both of them for in their elections. I am not running for office, I’m here to help.

    I will reserve my comments for the budget hearings, so, you all come. I hope you’ll be there, too, whoever you are.

  12. Another LD11 PC says:

    There are some out of the box solutions.

    Here’s one…..

    That government operate under the same constraints that you and I and business operate which is to not spend beyond their means.

    If we were not ALREADY taxed to the hilt, Jon, then some interim tax solutions MIGHT be acceptable.

    However, we ARE already taxed to the hilt, for example, due to things like the overrides and bond initiatives that you supported.

    Therefore, the correct economic solution is out of the box thinking by government which is to LIVE WITHIN THE MEANS THEY HAVE.

    This might require some public services cuts, such as, yes unfortunately, even police and fire.

    We’ve all had to tighten our belts.

    It’s time to buck up and have government do it to.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

    If police and fire do NOT have to undergo belt tightening too, then they will never come up with the “do more with less” solutions that come out of having to live austerely.

    Don’t even say they are living austerely now. An additional sales tax increase just for them was passed in 2008. We’re already paying for that.

    TIME TO TRIM THE FAT, JON.

  13. MaskedTruthman says:

    So many words but, unfortunately, vouchers wasn’t one of them. Willie Sutton said that he robbed banks because that’s where the money was. Our money is in the inefficient and costly government education system. Go for it!

  14. [...] On the heels of this dismal news, the Phoenix City Council, under the wise guidance of Mayor Philly “Kick-’em-while-they’re-down” Gordon, has decided taxing food is just the ticket to quell the city’s financial woes. [...]

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