Paradise Valley readies legislative marching orders for 2019 season

Third from the left is Doug Cole, chief operating officer at High Ground Public Affairs Consulting, as he Thursday, Oct. 25 delivers the annual legislative update focused on the interests of the Town of Paradise Valley in play at the Arizona Legislature. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

A curtail to construction sales tax remits, the annual political chagrin surrounding photo radar and the impacts of SB 1350 on local neighborhoods top the list of statewide legislative issue Paradise Valley leaders have their eyes on.

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, Oct. 25 were presented to by Deputy Town Manager Dawn Marie Buckland and Doug Cole, chief operating officer at High Ground Public Affairs Consultants.

“It’s always fun to be here to review all things fun in the political world,” said Mr. Cole as he prefaced his legislative report. “We anticipated based on voter behavior, during an off-year election, about 2 million voters will participate in the upcoming election.”

Paradise Valley Town Hall is at 6401 E. Lincoln Blvd. (File photo)

The municipality pays High Ground $36,000 annually to provide lobbying efforts at the Arizona Legislature on behalf of elected leaders of the Town of Paradise Valley.

The Arizona general election is Tuesday Nov. 6 whereas the Town of Paradise Valley is within lines drawn on a map representing Legislative District 28 of the Arizona Legislature.

Short-term rentals continue to be the chagrin of those who call Paradise Valley home and the folks who represent them at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

“These party houses and wedding venues, Sen. (John) Kavanagh, who represents Scottsdale at the Legislature — and they are having similar issues in Fountain Hills — has been working with staff to put some parameters of what is going on here,” Mr. Cole said of a growing desire to further regulate the elusive AirBnB rental and the revenue it generates.

“He (Sen. Kavanagh) would like to have as many examples that are not embellished, HOAs that are aggrieved,” he said. “He recognizes we can’t get rid of short-term rentals — he was one of the ‘no’ votes. But what he wants to do is create a registration that can be a public record.”

SB 1350, which was sponsored by then-Arizona Senate Majority Whip Debbie Lesko (R), went into effect in early 2017 and restricts local cities and towns from being able to regulate the use of vacation rentals or short-term rentals within municipal boundaries.

Municipal leaders say the proposed legislation is meant to help fuel the idea of a “shared economy” championed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey — who is seeking re-election — but the unintended consequences of allowing residential homes to act as boutique hotels is devastating the tranquility of local neighborhoods.

Mr. Cole also outlines a pursuit of requiring the short-term rental dwelling to be listed as the owner’s secondary residence, of which there can be only one.

“Trying to establish no commercial-investment houses — some of these homes are being purchased then turned into makeshift venues,” he said. “Some sort of limit of how many there can be — that is going to be hard to do but that is what he wants to do.”

Secondly, a change that went into effect in 2017 to the Arizona tax code requires construction sales tax remits to be collected at the point of sale rather than the municipality where the work actually occurs.

Ms. Buckland estimates the tax code change has resulted in about a $1 million loss in annual General Fund revenue to the town.

Home building — and remodeling — is a big part of market activity in the Town of Paradise Valley and how that marketplace helps the municipality’s bottom line is a typical concern of local leaders. (File photo)

“Construction sales tax still remains an issue for the town,” she said, but dramatic change to the point-of-sale pursuit of sales tax remits are unlikely.

Furthermore, on its annual cue, the discussion of the public safety merits of photo radar as a behavior modification is expected to emerge at the Legislature.

Ms. Buckland contends the municipality will once again ready a defense of the merits of photo radar.

“Everything that we had heard from the Legislature, we have been able to clarify what is actually going on as misinformation will occur. Making sure we have the ability to strike that balance — the quality of life and balance of public safety.”

On an annual basis, millions of dollars change hands in the municipalities of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley — a direct result of speeding tickets snapped by photo radar devices — with six-figures annually funneled back into their respective General Funds. Both communities are within the bounds of Legislative District 28.

In fiscal year 2016-17, the Town of Paradise Valley issued 47,651 photo radar tickets, which accounted for $2,195,989 in gross fine remits — with $606,726 provided to the state and county; $572,057 paid to Redflex Traffic Systems; and the “amount retained by the town” was $1,017,206, according to the results of a public records request.

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected to approve its legislative agenda Thursday Nov. 15 as the new session begins at the Arizona Legislature in January 2019.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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