Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tucson City Council Debate and Vote No on Pima Bonds!

Tucson City Council Candidate Debate

I attended the Tucson City Council Debate hosted by the League of Women Voters on October 14, 2015.  All the candidates were finally in attendance, as the Democrat council members stood up the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Debate and I was wondering if they would stand up the League of Women Voters too, but all the Democrats did show up last night so the show went on!

It was obvious from the outset that the Democrats were committed to more and more subsidies and more and more borrowing and spending for short term goals.  None of them had a grasp of the gravity of the city’s financial situation, which resembles Detroit.  They were all proud of their accomplishments and want to continue the program.  Their emphasis on constant growth is naïve.   They are like a kid with her first job looking at Corvettes in the showroom, willing to commit to 27 years of heavy debt to just get her hands on the car. 

They are willing to mortgage the future and spend the money now.

We live in a constrained environment.  Water resources are getting scarce.  If drought conditions are declared on the Colorado, we could be impacted right here in Tucson.  Yet the city council is for more annexation and more growth, instead of making an attempt to recognize environmental constraints on dreams of grandeur.   They need to do the job.  The job is to do what the charter says.  Instead we get red light cameras and Parkwise, neither of which raise money for the general fund.  If there were no Parkwise, people could park mostly free and the city would not have to subsidize Parkwise and money would be saved.  Since the city gets negligible income from the red light cameras, the money is being sucked out of the city.  These city council members support these boondoggles and they are not doing their jobs, as per the city charter.   Look at the streets!

The Republican Candidates offered a refreshing view of what could be different in Tucson.  They actually talked about paying down the debt instead of adding to it and they even talked about not raising taxes and the benefits of lower taxes to the local economy.  Kelly Lawton wistfully remembers the Tucson of yesterday, when the streets were good and the economy was healthy and small businesses were king.  I remember those days too and I believe that the era of big government in Tucson is literally bankrupt.  The government should not be a prime source of jobs for the community.  The private sector, the university and the base should be the sources, not bond projects.   

Vote Bill Hunt, Kelly Lawton and Margaret Burkholder for Tucson City Council!

Shirley Scott was so jubilant over the spending in her ‘district’ that was paid for at taxpayer expense, which probably benefitted her supporters’ financial interests!  Of course Ms. Scott is for more borrowing and more money sent out of state, just like other government officials who want nothing more than to get their hands on all that money right now and spend it while it takes decades to pay back.  Ms. Scott is proud of all that development and wants all annexation possible and no doubt is promoting more and more water hookups while the water table and the Colorado River drops.  Archaic attitudes like Ms. Scott appears to hold should be voted out of office.  Ms. Scott wants a $1.2 billion debt added to the $1.4 billion debt the county already has.  It should be in Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

This bond thing is a fight over money and who controls it.  The vested interests want to reap the luxury living gained through taxpayer investment, which they do not call profit but it is a handsome living for the few.  They just set up deals, without financial risk to themselves, which true private enterprise cannot do. 

Mr. Hecker was really interested in Rio Nuevo and now he takes a titanic interest in these bond proposals.  I am uncomfortable with those same old names popping up as the prospect of a new free trough opening up again, just like Rio Nuevo.

The problem with Mr. Hecker’s premise that such a small amount per year increase in taxes benefits everyone through these bond projects that he and his friends control.  They are attempting to use the force of taxes to amass money quickly through borrowing to pay for projects they control and have chosen to put on the ballot.  It’s so easy for them to get something on the ballot.  And it is so difficult to fight their choice of projects and contractors. 

They want $780,000,000, which creates a debt of about $1.2 billion because of the enormous amount of interest paid for the privilege of allowing this group of people to amass and spend this huge sum.  Do you want these people to control this much money, leaving a debt for the children to pay?  Shall the sins of the Fathers be visited upon the children?  In this case, YES, the debt is said to extend 27 years into the future……

I don’t want these people to amass and spend the surplus for the next 27 years.  That is too much money for too long and it is too expensive.  I think the money should remain in the hands of the people to spend as they see fit.  I think the county should take available revenue, pay down the huge debt without rollovers, maintain what the law requires and stop raising property taxes.  Rents go up, payments go up, apartment owners and cooperatives are hit with higher taxes, and everybody pays more to maintain the control and collection of huge money from the little people who might rather use that money every year to buy gifts for grandchildren, rather than to pay for parks and amenities for developers far from the old neighborhoods of the south side. 

The county is trying to get more money for roads when they already have authorization for millions in road bonds.  Why?  They are like the four year old who heaps his plate and reaches for more. 

Mr. Hecker said that private enterprise doesn’t build libraries and museums.   Apparently in Mr. Hecker’s world, government is the end all be all and private enterprise is negligible unless it’s a favored contractor.  Remember the Carnegie Library chain throughout the United States?  Andrew Carnegie financed these through money obtained through private enterprise!  Has Mr. Hecker ever visited a private museum?  Like the Daughters of the American Revolution museum in Washington DC?  Wow!  There are even private enterprise transportation systems!  Look at Uber!  Call your local taxi!   Maybe people would rather spend their money on Uber rather than subsidizing the union controlled bus system milking the taxpayers.  Mr. Hecker is trying to justify the increase in the debt load by defining the meaning of government to include exclusive rights over the building and control of cultural activities and transportation systems.  He is wrong. 

Suppose that $1.2 Billion remains in the Tucson economy the next 27 years instead of going out on these chosen projects?  What could happen if the county were to pay down the debt, which IS the highest in Arizona?

  • Taxes might stabilize, which is good for predicting a business model.
  • Rents might stabilize. 
  • Taxes could even go down, as the public debt is paid off. 
  • More ready cash would be in the coffers at the county due to debt paydown.
  • Road maintenance, transportation, parks and other services could be paid for with the cash instead of more borrowing and rollovers.
  • The debt on the HURF fund would be paid off, freeing up cash to be used in road maintenance.
  • Infrastructure conditions could be improved without further debt.

About the Pima bond proposal:  Say everybody has at least $50 a year to spend instead of paying the $50 a year for 27 years or even saving the money and they would have $13,500 plus interest in their personal accounts.  If you own more expensive properties, the amount is even greater.   If people spent some of the money eating out, local restaurants would benefit financially.  If the money were spent on goods and services locally, this money would circulate through the economy many times throughout the years, bringing prosperity by circulating the money locally.  Local businesses would benefit by the money in the economy and from tax relief.

If the bond proposals are passed, this money will be concentrated in the hands of a few contractors and their workers right now for them to spend.  Huge sums of the money will go out of state to pay interest on the debt, which will be of no local benefit.  Contractors using temps from outside Pima County are often hired, which takes money out of the county.  Sure, we get these proposed structures and improvements but so much more could be had if the debt were paid down instead of increasing.  The problem of maintenance of existing facilities has not been met by Pima County and has not been addressed in the budget, yet they want to go into debt to build more facilities to neglect.  Part of their job is to have an ongoing maintenance program that is successful using the amount of funding available.  That is the job and they are not doing it and I don’t think they should have more power to borrow more money.