Scottsdale City Council OKs vote of sales tax increase first, GO bond program later

Scottsdale City Council: a view of Suzanne Klapp, Jim Lane and Virginia Korte at City Hall Tuesday, May 1. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Scottsdale City Council Tuesday, May 1 — by a 4 to 3 measure — approved a resolution ultimately destined to materialize in a ballot measure where city officials will ask for a .10 percent increase to local sales tax in hopes of raising just over $70 million to help pay for transportation projects.

In all, city officials speculate the sales tax measure, if approved by voters this November, will make the municipality eligible for $171 million in matching funds from Maricopa County to meet the tenants of its arterial life cycle program.

City officials say the sales tax measure will be apart of the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The May majority vote — with Vice Mayor Virginia Korte, and members of council Linda Milhaven and David Smith dissenting — comes on the heels of months-long speculation of if the local governing board is or isn’t going to pursue a $350 million general obligation bond program.

But it appears the great Scottsdale bond debate is not over — just postponed — as Resolution No. 11124 formerly will enact:

  • A Nov. 6 general election ballot measure where residents will be asked to tax themselves at an additional rate of .10 percent for a 10-year period; and
  • City staff has been given formal direction to conduct a fall 2018 work study session on the topic of other infrastructure maintenance needs and how to pay for them, “with the expectation that a bond election would be scheduled for November 2019.”

There are 118 Scottsdale infrastructure projects city leaders have identified carrying an estimated cost of $810 million, but elected leaders readily admit municipal needs exceed existing funding sources and mechanisms.

Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips during the May 1 public hearing. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips is the man with the plan as his recommendation weeks earlier spurred the now adopted funding plan moving forward.

“I hope the voters will go for this because we really need those matching funds from the state,” he said during the public hearing. “You (residents) already paid it and they are holding it, so why not get that before they give it to someone else.”

Mr. Phillips is making a reference to allocations of statewide funds derived from a local sales tax.

Allocations of ALCP revenue, or the Arterial Life Cycle Program of the Maricopa Association of Governments, are administered taxpayer dollars derived from Prop. 400, which is a .5 percent sales tax allocation dedicated to transportation projects.

To qualify for certain projects, the city of Scottsdale needs to ensure funding dollars are available to meet tenets of the ALCP, city officials say.

“By putting the transportation projects in this it is going to free up a lot of those projects to put on the bond,” Mr. Phillips said of his thought process. “Now a lot of these can go up the queue. I really think this is a win-win for everybody — especially the city.”

Ms. Korte has a different thought process.

“This is a time that we will look back on with regret,” she said pointing out the enormous infrastructure needs facing the municipality.“This is politically expedient and is a decision based on expediency rather than a thoughtful one — rather than what is best for our citizens. This isn’t a plan and really ignores a lot more greater amount of needs.”

Ms. Korte points out the path of least resistance oftentimes is not the best.

“(Nearly) 85 percent of this will be paid for by our Scottsdale citizens,” she said. “Bottom line this isn’t fiscally responsible.”

A view of council chambers. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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