Dembow: Paradise Valley Proposition 499 is not a tax increase

The town currently receives more money than it can spend.

Paul Dembow

Paul Dembow

Well-respected Mayors Ron Clarke, Ed Lowery, Ed Winkler and others have supported increases in the town’s ability to spend money previously. We’re at that point again.

We have expenses that, in today’s vernacular are, “More month than money.” Our Public Safety Personnel Retirement System is underfunded by $18 Million dollars and we need to fix that gap. If we don’t the law mandates we pay 8 percent on the balance.

Since we receive about 1 percent on our money that is just sitting in an account that could be used to pay off the balance, we’re paying over $1 million dollars annually in interest.

You don’t have to think long about that decision. That money could be used for police, roads or a number of improvements to our beautiful town. I can imagine the business people reading this are saying, “Get a loan at 3 performance and pay off the pension to save 5 percent on the money.”

Council thought of that… It is against the law to take a loan to pay off the pension liability. So what would be the next step? Get debt on every capital improvement so we pay interest on those projects, or the most logical way… Let’s use the money that is just sitting in the bank earning 1 percent!

We’ve not had an increase in our ability to spend money for a decade and the costs to maintain infrastructure have increased and the aging town will need to have the resources to keep our town looking like the Paradise we are. Proposition 499 does not mean we’re spending all of the money we have. We have reserves that are approximately 117 percent of our annual budget and growing because we can’t spend the money.

Financial managers say a family should have six months of reserve on hand to cover for hard times. We have plenty ‘rainy day’ funds!

There are a few that oppose the increase. I understand their thinking. As P.J. O’Rourke said, “Money and Power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

Our money needs to be spent wisely and we need to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire. Having them use your tax money to support the siren’s call claiming, “Dollars are coming from our development if you invest in our project” is not the way I see government’s role.

Having your government financially support development may work out well, or may work out the way the Glendale arena worked out for Glendale…

In my opinion development should pay for development. I don’t think it is government’s role to pick the winners using your tax dollars. The Town of Paradise Valley has “limited government” as part of our DNA.

Please vote “Yes” on Proposition 499, but keep an eye on how your elected officials spend your money.

Editor’s note: Mr. Dembow is a member of Paradise Valley Town Council.

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