IPFS Powell Gammill

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Do you want to vote yourself a tax decrease?

[Update: Don't take my word for it. Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert says unequivocally, "If the [2006 Phoenix Bond] election passes, homeowners will pay more property taxes. It's just that simple," he said. "I think it's unfair for people who are making economic decisions not to tell the story in a truthful manner. The discussion needs to be about spending." — Arizona Republic, Sunday, Mar. 12, 2006, p. B1]

Phoenicians. Did you know you were scheduled for a property tax cut in 2006? Well government can’t have that, and needs your help to keep the loot. Okay, I'm lying. In a just world government would return your stolen tax dollars when it took more than it needed for its designated spending. But this is government we are talking about here. And there is no justice.

In 2001, Phoenix voters taxed themselves by approving $754 million in 25-year bond sales that placed liens on their property and siphoned off property taxes to cover the cost of the bonds. These bonds kept property taxes at their current level. These bonds were then all used to fund “essential” city services. This amount literally was the maximum government calculated it could suck out of your household’s value without raising your property taxes. Amazing how those essential city services just happen to add up to the maximum amount.

Five years later property values have shot through the roof. Way beyond 2001 projections. Home sales have jumped enormously, and the city has exploded outward filling in its borders until little new taxable land will exist in the future. For now property tax revenue has come pouring into the Phoenix coffers. And so the city would like you to encumber more of your property as collateral on a new 2006 round of 25-year bonds being issued. Can't have all that excess and projected money laying around. Certainly don't want to return it to the property owners.

The government and their pimping developers and other special interest parasites always have plenty of ideas on how to get your money into their pockets. Over 700 little piggies lined up at the trough to demand a slice of your income this year. Some of them even live in Arizona, much less Phoenix. And their slogan, “It won’t cost you any more than you are already paying.” Well, it would be their slogan if they were honest. Instead it is, “These bonds won’t increase your property taxes.” In these times of weekly price inflation at the supermarkets and the pumps, passing these bonds won’t decrease your property taxes either. But voting “NO” will make sure your taxes won't increase.

Voting "no" will protect your property from the future tax increase when the housing bubble bursts. Which it will burst. Clearly with increasing interest rates, a weakened dollar, and a nervous market the housing market is currently stagnant. Sooner or later it will fall, as buyers refuse to pay the current value for a home, and those who have bought multiple homes as "investments" desperately try to get out from under the monthly mortgage payments.

And as usual you are going to vote to hand it over to them this coming March, in a costly special election held just a few months after your city councilman ran for re-election, when you are asked to approve another issuance of bonds to the tune of $880 million. Only this time less than a third of the bonds are going to “essential” services. So last time $754 million was considered essential city services, but this time only $290 million is classified as essential.

Suckers! Over half the loot is going to prop up an already faltering downtown development project that includes support for the money pit Phoenix Civic Plaza, multiple government built business buildings, support for sports stadiums, galleries and museums, a now questionably profitable biotechnology industry (including a retirement club of former NIH taxpayer titsuckers), a huge expansion of the nation’s largest campus, Arizona State University—downtown, a similar expansion of the University of Arizona medical school—downtown, and amazingly, to cover the embezzled debt of misappropriated funds in the form of raiding prior bond amounts already paid off to temporarily cover the costs to build a government owned hotel to compete with the local private hoteliers. Other money is going to snap up properties devastated along the “light rail” trolley tracks being installed to clog up already bad downtown traffic.

The fact that your property taxes are going to pay off two state university campuses ought to be unacceptable to you. State universities are supported by state legislatures, not city councils.

The fact that your property taxes [in the form of $350 million in Phoenix bonds separate from this $880 million bond request] are going to publically fund an enourmous downtown hotel ought to be unacceptable to you. Hotels have been successfully operated in this state since . . . well, since Spain ruled Arizona, and without any tax money. This is the first taxpayer supported, government operated hotel in Arizona. Maybe in the entire nation. But your city council (minus Tom Simplot) have better ideas on how government can compete with downtown hotels using those hotel’s and your tax money in direct competition. I cannot wait to see the city building and health inspectors descend like locust on their competition.

If the bonds do not pass, the millions of dollars in outstanding debt already incurred by the city council to go into the hotel business, so they can compete with private downtown hotels will not be covered. It makes you wonder how the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) managed to juggle the books so the council could do all of the monkey business it could without going to prison. Enron style accounting? Oh, that’s right, the CFO used his Mercedes as a surf board in rush hour traffic as his ticket out of city hall. Amazing how when a CFO commits suicide, the accounting office isn’t sealed, and no one, especially an independent auditor, looks at the books for the first few weeks! Was there a cover up? Such inactions made sure an honest investigation can never be guaranteed.

Many of you will say, “I rent. What do I care about a property tax?” Do not kid yourself. You pay property tax on your rental unit. The cost of all taxes are always passed on to you as part of a landlord deciding what to charge for rent. So while a property tax cut may not be likely to result in a lowering of rent for you, the current value of the dollar (as felt weekly at the supermarket and gas pumps) is declining due to inflation, which means sooner or later your rent will go up (this is inflation). A tax cut to the property owner should delay the rent increase to you, saving you money in the short term and giving you a little more money to spend on yourself every year.

Even more outrageous, the city of Phoenix is spending taxpayer money and using city employees to promote the bond election. Against this, how is a "no" vote going to stand a chance?

Fortunately, there is an grassroots organization formed to oppose the 2006 Phoenix Bond called “STOP.” Stop Taking Our Property. Jeff Greenspan, chairman, Randy Pullen, treasurer. Their mission statement is to protect the property tax reduction scheduled for 2006 by defeating the Phoenix bond issue of $880 million. YOU can help defeat the bond by joining STOP. Visit their website at: BondTruth.com, or make a donation, and join their discussion group to see how you can volunteer at (e-mail) mdefeatthebond-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. The Goldwater Institute has also come out against the bond issue.

So treat yourself to a future property tax cut. Send your city councilmen to prison for Enron style accounting, and their political and personal fortunes into the abyss. Vote “NO” on all Phoenix bond propositions this March.

[Note: The vote will be held Tuesday, March 14th.]

Don't take my word for it, listen to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon: "If you want to save your homes from taxation, vote NO on the bond proposals" (Alberson's, Jan. 29, 2006, regarding Phoenix Bond Election).