Over the years I’ve seen many governments seek to raise taxes and fees on their communities. Sometimes the increases are based on true need and all other fiscal avenues have been exhausted, and others just want the money to avoid managing more wisely, efficiently and apolitically.
At the Fountain Hills Council meeting on June 18, it appears the over $2 million per year tax and fee increases to be passed by the Council fits into the latter category. They showed this isn’t about “shared sacrifice” by deciding to dole out 3.5 percent raises to staff and increasing staffing to reduce workload while overburdening our community. Some “sacrifice!”
It’s also notable that budget projections show the funds aren’t immediately required. Delay would be prudent.
Mayor Dickey, responsible government would postpone this ill-conceived taxpayer burden and perform necessary due diligence first. Provide a spending list by resident priority and identify items to cut or reduce for balancing the budget. Perhaps the community prefers those reductions. Provide a benchmark report for worker productivity and compensation. Have summer staff and community members benchmark data from municipalities for costs to operate our own police and fire protection departments. The high costs from Rural/Metro and Sheriff Penzone are not sustainable and alternatives are necessary.
Create an ad hoc “critical” committee to examine the budget and town operations to establish reasonable alternatives to the fees and taxes. The projections show we have time.
Negotiate prudent cost shifting to reduce spending. For example, much of the lake water pumping and maintenance operational costs should be taken by the overfunded Sanitary District since it’s a wastewater treatment function.
It’s clear that there may be better alternatives than the excessive fee and tax increases you’re forcing upon us. Madame Mayor, do the right thing and establish need before indulging government greed.