Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What has changed?

The Republic has a great write up about the bond questions and the fact that Mesa is revisiting a property tax (albeit a secondary one) a couple years after the voters rejected one.

So, the question is, what has changed? Well, first of all, it is important to note that this election is about a secondary tax, rather than a primary. A secondary goes away when the bonds are paid for and are linked specifically to certain projects. The tax does have an end to it, which was different from the permanent primary property tax which did not expire and many people felt was a "blank check" for the city council.

Secondly, we have a new council looking after the money. Rightly or wrongly, the old council was blamed for a lot of the financial troubles and overspending of the past. Some of the criticism they deserved, and some they did not. Two years ago, they threatened deep cuts if the property tax did not pass. When it failed, it seemed like very little happened.

Fast forward two years, we are seeing actual cuts to Police and Fire, the result of a budget based on sagging sales tax revenues. We also have a new mayor and council, and what seems to be a renewed passion for Mesa. The first thing they did was cut the bonds, which was a smart move because it showed fiscal responsibility on their part and also allowed them to focus on only the greatest of needs.

Finally, we have a very soft economy. On one hand, this make people less likely to dig into their pockets. On the other hand, they are also less likely to think that the City has money lying around that they are wasting on other things instead of using the funds for police and fire. The result is people are paying closer attention to their money, but they are also assessing what is most important to them.

You can see that the comment section has once again come alive with people passionate on both sides of the issue. One side sees the needs, while the other side still seems to blame the city for wasting too much money. I think that we need to think long and hard about what kind of city we want and what services we want them to provide.

No comments: