I’m urging Tucsonans to vote yes on Propositions 401 and 402 in this year’s city election. Here’s why.
Both propositions are in response to requirements imposed on cities and towns by the Arizona Legislature. We often hear legislators in Phoenix talk about the importance of local control, then do the exact opposite when it comes to cities and towns. That is the case here.
Prop. 401 — Permanent Base Adjustment
Cities and towns in Arizona are subject to a state-imposed limit on the amount of money they are allowed to spend, regardless of how much revenue they bring in. If this spending cap isn’t raised from time to time, you can end up with money sitting in the bank that can’t be used to deliver city services or improve infrastructure. That is expected to occur in Tucson by fiscal year 2016, if Proposition 401 doesn’t pass.
State law freezes municipal spending at 1980 levels, with increases allowed for population growth and inflation. But the world has changed — a lot — since Blondie topped the charts, and the state’s formula doesn’t allow for change. For example, just because DNA testing didn’t exist in 1980, that doesn’t mean our Police Department shouldn’t use it to solve crimes. They should and they do.
We can’t eliminate this arbitrary cap, but we can raise it by passing a permanent base adjustment.
Proposition 401 does not raise taxes or increase the city’s ability to raise taxes. It does not allow the city to spend more money than it receives in revenue. It just lets the city spend the revenue it receives.
Tucson may be the Old Pueblo — a nickname I’ve always liked — but we can cherish the past without living in it. This is 2013, not 1980. Please vote yes on Proposition 401.
Prop. 402 — Plan Tucson
Every 10 years, state law requires cities and towns to draft a general plan and put it on the ballot to be approved by voters. Plan Tucson — Proposition 402 — is that general plan.
In the past, the city has taken some knocks over planning in lieu of action. It’s important to remember that the planning process for Plan Tucson is required by state law.
The city staff did an excellent job with public outreach, holding 64 public meetings that resulted in more than 800 comments being submitted for consideration. Plan Tucson truly reflects the views of the community as expressed through this exhaustive public process.
Plan Tucson is intended to guide policy, but it has no binding effect on law or policy. It sets general goals, but does not limit the ways in which we can achieve those goals. It is a statement of general principles.
Finally, Plan Tucson does not raise taxes or increase the city’s ability to raise taxes.
It would be nice if our state Legislature followed their own “local control” creed when it came to cities and towns, but I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, we can meet our obligations under state law, remove an obstacle to the city’s providing services and improving infrastructure with the revenue it collects, and have an updated general plan by voting yes on Propositions 401 and 402.