Littlefield changes tune on Scottsdale bond program this time around

Scottsdale City Council this November is seeking a $95.6 million bond package for myriad infrastructure projects. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Scottsdale City Council this November is seeking a $95.6 million bond package for myriad infrastructure projects. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Scottsdale is often ranked as one of the nation’s most desirable communities in which to live, and members of the Scottsdale City Council are hoping residents are willing to pay a bit more in property taxes in order to keep it that way.

The council recently approved a $95.9 million bond proposal that would help pay for upgrades and renovations to such items as police and fire stations, parks, streets and public buildings.

Scottsdale residents will vote on the measure Nov. 3.

Council members see the bond — which dedicates money to six specific areas — as vital to the city’s future. But they know they have a challenge ahead of them: Voters have turned down the last two bond proposals.
The last bond election approved by Scottsdale voters was 15 years ago.

The new proposed bond would cost homeowners 11.5 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation used for secondary property tax purposes.  According to the city, an average Scottsdale homeowner living in a home valued at $370,000 would pay an additional $3.50 per month if the bond is approved.

“I do support the bond this time,” said city Councilmember Kathy Littlefield in a July 28 phone interview.  “I did not support it last time. Basically, what I thought last time, was that there was too much (included) and the bond package was too large, too inflated, full of handouts and giveaways.”

The six proposed bonds to be voted on in November include:

  1.  Parks and community facilities — $31,900,000.
  2. Transportation — $16,540,000.
  3. Citywide technology — $6,870,000.
  4. Street pavement replacement — $12,500,000.
  5. Public safety-fire — $16,350,000.
  6. Public safety-police — $11,800,000.

“I’m hopeful (voters) will pass it, and approve it, but the reality is, we are running out of money for capital reinvestment in the city,” said Councilmember David Smith during a phone interview on July 28. “It’s not really the type of thing to say ‘shucks, we just won’t do that.’”

David Smith

David Smith

Councilmember Smith was Scottsdale’s treasurer and chief financial officer for three years.

“There is no other source of money,” said Councilmember Smith. “A lot of people are tempted to say ‘just cut costs’ and the truth is, capital investments are paid for with a different funding source.”

Items that are a part of the voter-approved bond must be paid for with that money, according to Councilmember Littlefield.

“By putting it on the bond, we have to do these projects that are listed,” said Councilmember Littlefield. “It guarantees that it will be done.”

Items on the list that Councilmember Littlefield believes to be crucial include updating and expanding the police and fire stations and the jail. She said land was purchased to build such buildings in the past, but the work was never started.

Kathy Littlefield

Kathy Littlefield

In determining what to present to voters, the council was given a large list of projects to be graded from most important to least important, according to Councilmember Littlefield.

“When the lists came back there was an amazing amount of coordination of consensus on what was the most important things to do and what wasn’t,” she said. “So we cut and filed it down to basically, what I thought, too, were the most important 20 items for just under $96 million.”

Councilmember Littlefield thinks the end result is a bond package residents will be pleased with.

“I think we have a tight bond package, low interest rates, and we have the most important projects to keep the city in shape. That’s what a bond package should be,” she said.

Councilmember Smith says there wasn’t one specific reason why bonds passed in previous years, but it is time to start taking care of the city.

Steve Helm, vice chair of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chair of the chamber’s Public Policy Advisory Council, said the business community overwhelming supports the bond.

“Over 1,000 members support the bond issue and recognize the city needs infrastructure,” said Mr. Helm during a July 29 phone interview.

Mr. Helm said he believes there are probably dozens of other items that could have been included on the list, but believes the city is trying to be responsible.

“Businesses usually don’t like tax increases, but the city needs to invest in its infrastructure,” said Mr. Helm.
For more information about the election or the bonds, visit scottsdaleaz.gov/elections.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment