Whitehead: Scottsdale should look within prior to seeking GO bond program

A family budget and a city budget are not that different.

Solange Whitehead

If your family was $350 million in the hole, would you borrow $68 million for something you don’t need, the family (really, really) doesn’t want, and will cost the family millions every year to maintain? Nope. And, neither should city council.

Scottsdale has well over $350 million in unfunded infrastructure needs threatening our safety, our quality of life, and tarnishing the “shine” that attracts the tourists.

In response, city council wants to raise taxes and borrow $200 in the form of a bond.

The city cannot keep borrowing or taxing us out of this financial hole. Instead, they must adopt fiscally responsible spending priorities, and the first step is to quit digging. Why build a $68 million Desert Edge/DDC when we cannot afford to maintain the buildings we have?

The use of public debt for the construction of this private endeavor may be inappropriate in good economic times but is completely reckless today. The proposed bond should not include any project that does not directly benefit Scottsdale residents. Minimizing new debt is the single most effective step toward financial health. Every dollar not borrowed is a tax dollar available to fill vacancies in our fire and police departments.

Voters pass bonds when they trust their elected officials. Council should stop blaming voters for recently failed bonds and work hard to win back trust. The use or misuse of our Preserve tax dollars offers just such an opportunity.

Should council approve Preserve tax dollars to be diverted for the construction of the DDC rather than acquisition and preservation of more desert, they will breach public trust in a very big way. The Preserve tax was created via voter approved bonds and the DDC is not a voter approved use.

If instead, the council prioritizes Scottsdale’s financial security and honors voter intent by passing a binding resolution disallowing any use of Preserve tax dollars for a DDC without explicit voter approval — they will enjoy praise and win back public trust!

A deficit of public trust and a misalignment of priorities put us in this hole, but it is not too late to make these changes and correct both.

Editor’s note: Ms. Whitehead is a resident of Scottsdale and candidate for Scottsdale City Council this August

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