Whitehead: Q&A on Scottsdale’s bond basics

Solange Whitehead

In November, voters will consider approving three bond questions containing 58 projects.

  1. Parks, Recreation, and Senior Services
  2. Community Spaces and Infrastructure
  3. Public Safety and Technology

Citizen input helped finalize the list of projects and City Council unanimously approve the bond package. In the coming months, I’ll go into detail on the projects but wanted to first share bond basics.

Please see the complete list on the city website: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/construction/unfunded-cip-projects

What is a GO bond?

A Government Obligation (GO) bond is like a home equity line of credit. It establishes a maximum loan amount the city can borrow.

The city is not required to borrow any or all of the approved money. The city can only use the funds for the voter approved projects. And while a home equity line is secured by the equity in the borrower’s home, a GO bond is secured with future property tax revenue.

GO bonds require voter approval.

What is the cost?

There is no cost to taxpayers if the bonds are passed. Aside from the election cost which is roughly $2.50 per voter.

Interest and fees only kick in when the city taps the funds to start a project. GO bonds are preferred because this form of debt has the lowest interest rate.

In today’s market, the interest would be about 4%.

(Submitted chart)

How are the bonds paid back?

Through secondary property taxes. See Chart 1.

(Submitted chart)

How will my taxes go down?

Property taxes are decreasing as existing bonds are paid off (blue).

The $319M bond gets important projects done and should net a lower property tax. Chart 2 is an estimate for a $350M bond but voters will consider only a $319M bond this November.

(Submitted chart)

How do Scottsdale taxes compare?

Scottsdale has the second lowest property taxes in the Valley. See Chart 3.

Where will I vote?

All voters will receive a ballot in the mail whether or not the voter usually votes at the polls. Voters can mail or drop off ballots.

Is the council’s job done after bonds are voter approved?

No, absolutely not.

Each project will still be subject to council review and approval. I will continue to work with staff to seek out alternate funding sources for projects and review costs to ensure we stretch every single tax dollar spent.

Scottsdale’s sparkle and international appeal is the product of citizen-driven ideas made possible with voter approved bonds.

I plan to enthusiastically VOTE YES on all three bond questions.

Editor’s Note: Solange Whitehead is a City of Scottsdale Councilwoman.

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