Examining the results of the November elections, it was a mixed bag for Arizona taxpayers.
Specifically, there was a lot of debate surrounding the numerous bonds and override requests being pursued by school districts, the most controversial of which being spending requests that had failed previously at the ballot box. Since Arizona law permits schools to “recycle” their bond or override request even if it had failed the previous year, many of those districts were back again asking for money.
Coupled with the use of the off-cycle (low turnout) election, most of the recycled overrides and bonds passed on November 3rd. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club will continue to look at reforms related to this issue, specifically addressing the issue of recycled spending requests that had failed the previous year and the consolidation of election dates to even numbered years.
But there were a few victories for taxpayers worth mentioning – in of all places Pima County.
This year Pima County decided they wanted to reach deep into the pockets of taxpayers, proposing a package of bonds totaling close to a billion dollars. By overwhelming majorities, voters rejected all 8 bond proposals, which included higher property taxes to fund economic development, tourism facilities, parks facilities, conservation projects and flood control.
It was a result that left supporters “shocked” that taxpayers didn’t acquiesce to their demands.
Also on the ballot of Tucson residents was the issue of photo radar vans. Voters expressed their opposition to Proposition 201 with 66 percent of the vote. Citizens were critical of the city using the radar vans as a growing revenue stream.
Additionally, voters in Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson rejected the fourth request for bonds and overrides in the last four years. Much of the $11.8 million in funding was designated for all-day kindergarten. This saved the average tax payer with a home values at $100,000 nearly $300 on their property tax bill a year.
Pima County has been slow to recover from the recession, and the disconnect between struggling taxpayers and the spending appetite of government officials continues to widen. With voters sending a clear message that they have had enough, it will be interesting to see if the spending lobby will accept the results from the election or continue to press on with their agenda. Unfortunately, if history is any guide, it will likely be the latter.