Death may be certain, but we can still fight taxes

Numerous Arizona news outlets are reporting that “officials” with the City of Phoenix estimate the budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year could range from $50 million to $80 million.

That’s an extraordinarily wide range coming from unidentified “officials.”

In late 2009 Phoenix faced a budget shortfall of more than $277 million — resulting in some program reductions, threatened cutbacks from vital services unions and culminating with the implementation of a 2 percent city sales tax on food, intended to generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for city services. The tax was touted as infusing an estimated $12.5 million into the city coffers for the fiscal year ending June 30 and another $50 million for the following fiscal year.

During that same time, Seeing Red AZ 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 brought in during its first year.

Then in May 2010 they announced a plan to raise property taxes to pay the city’s $150 million annual projected debt while negotiating enormous contracts with Paris-based bus contractor Veolia.

Now Mayor Philly Gordon and the Phoenix City Council are proposing a 7.0% or $23 million residential water rate increase. For this ill-timed rate hike, they received editorial encouragement from the Arizona Republic in which the newspaper counsels the council to “show wisdom and courage” and implement the increase.

With home values slashed, and residential foreclosures and unemployment at record highs, our elected banditos still view us as cash cows.

We urge attendance at tomorrow’s (Wednesday, January 19)  3:00 PM meeting at the City Council Chambers, 200 West Washington Street, 85003 (Map here). Let your voice be heard on this worst of times water-rate increase.

 This is the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting. Check out Items 29 and 37. Call (602) 256-3186 to verify the 3:00 PM meeting schedule.

6 Responses to Death may be certain, but we can still fight taxes

  1. Jon Altmann says:

    First – Alert Bill Gates put out an email a short time ago that the water rate increase has been pulled from the agenda for reconsideration and won’t come back to the Council until February:

    “Thank you for your emails and phone calls regarding the proposed water rate increase. They have had an impact. We just learned that the vote has been postponed until February 23, 2011. I believe that we need to conduct a thorough review to determine if savings can be discovered through efficiencies before this item comes back to the City Council for an up or down vote. We will keep you updated on this important issue. // Respectfully, Councilman Bill Gates.”

    Second, is this any surprise? When I ran for Phoenix City Council in 2007 against Maria Baier (who was later revealed to be legal counsel to indicted ex-Congressman Rick Renzi) – I clearly said tough financial times were ahead.

    ASU made me smart enough to read economic indicators and financial statements. America’s debt was getting too high – personal debt was continuing to rise and savings sagging – and the mortgage crisis was at our front door – too many indicators were things were about to take a turn downhill.

    Phoenix should have prudently started scaling back three years ago.

    Phoenix let the Council get away with a food sales tax. Not all the Council voted on that – and I think some of them regret part of that tax.

    Phoenix needs to be more aggressive in making it the cuts. Going to a 4/10 work week would save millions in electrical and other bills for city buildings. Engage in a one-time retirement/buy-out of as many senior employees as possible and clear the books and do not refill those jobs. Ask city employees to make a higher contribution towards their portion of retirement.

    There are many other steps to look at – I am pleased that many council members are taking a hard look at those alternatives. We simply need more to be careful with the dollar.

    Want to take a bold symbolic step? The Council should put on the next election a Charter Amendment removing council members from the elected officials retirement system and leaving it up to individual council members to do their own 401K or other.

    SR should take a close look at the upcoming Mayor & Council races. The mayor’s job, plus Council Districts 1, 3, 5 & 7 are up for election. There will not be an incumbent in Dist. 5 and there are two declared and two exploratory candidates for the mayor’s position. If you live in Phoenix, this is the race to get involved in this year.

    • Dist. 7 PC says:

      Uh, oh. It sounds like Altmann is gearing up for another campaign.

    • American Dad says:

      Referring to former Congressman Rick Renzi as “indicted ex-Congressman Rick Renzi” tells a lot about the sanctimonious Jon Altmann.

      Charges were heaped on Renzi. He pled not guilty. As of last year, no case has been brought against him.

      Do you have some inside information to the contrary. Altmann? If so, please share what the federal prosecutors have told you.

  2. Blackbeard says:

    Please say it isn’t so. We can’t bear another Altmann race. Maybe his wife can talk some sense to him. In his district the letters ABA stand for Anybody But Altmann.

  3. sherriaz says:

    One again I say that I am SO glad that I don’t live in Phoenix!

  4. Jon Altmann says:

    I stand behind the comments. Renzi is still under indictment and there is an active case in that it has not been totally dismissed. In June 2010, a newspaper article cited that some of the charges relating to wiretaps were thrown out because the taps were of priviledged conversations with his legal counsel – Maria Baier. That means that was going on before or during the city council election in 2007. What would the Phoenix voters have thought back then?
    If you’d like to email me, I’ll send you a copy of the story, which was published 6/10/10.
    Baier was a big money choice, but I still captured 44% of the vote despite the almost 5 to 1 spending against me. Her “dedication” to the job was evidenced that 17 months after taking office, as I predicted, she quit. She was not a voice for fiscal conservativism or responsibility and made little impact during the time she was there.
    I also note that during the 2007 run, I had a lot of support for my candidacy on this blog site – not that blog sites get votes.

    My point remains the same – look at the upcoming council races. However, Phoenix council races are not state legislative races. The voter base is somewhat different.

    As for me, I am supporting Bill Gates for re-election. Bill has been a solid voice for fiscal responsibility and we are friends. For those who care, I am spending my time with my church, my diocese and veterans issues, both locally and nationally. I had a good time this past election cycle working with several candidates, most of them getting elected. I encourage the rest of the pundit pursuers here to do the same with their time, their checkbooks and with their real names.
    Best, Jon.