On August 13, the Town Council will consider two revenue items – a sales tax increase and a new public safety fee. I’m not against all taxes but I expect that fees and taxes address proven needs and are spent responsibly. Unfortunately, past local history has created significant skepticism. In that sense, consider these points.
1) The proposed 0.3 percent sales tax increase would place the total rate in Fountain Hills at over 9 percent. The rate in Scottsdale and Tempe is just over 8 percent. Every purchase in town will cost more. Would this put every merchant in Fountain Hills at a disadvantage to its nearby competitors? Would this present another reason for businesses to avoid doing business in Fountain Hills? Would this drive customers elsewhere for their purchases? Nobody knows, but these are legitimate concerns, especially in light of the longstanding challenge of attracting and retaining businesses in town.
2) The public safety fee arose from the ongoing cost increases for police and fire services. The outlook is that the increases will continue into future years. However, the current proposed fee is not designed to cover all those projected costs, so we still end up short. It also doesn’t have the “sunset” provision which was originally wisely proposed by Councilman Spelich to allow the Council to regain public trust and prove itself as a worthy steward of our money.
3) Much of the justification for the 2018 proposed primary property tax was needed road maintenance. Will any additional sales tax revenues be used to address that need or will the revenues be redirected to other pet projects (“wants” not “needs”) or questionable studies? This is another valid question.
If you’re concerned about how government takes and spends your money, be aware, ask questions, and please show up on Aug. 13.