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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions June 28, 2016

5/18/2013 1:05:00 PM
My Turn: Permanent Base Adjustment is not a tax increase
Diane Joens
Mayor of Cottonwood

Voters now have their ballots for the Tuesday, May 21, all mail City of Cottonwood election.

Proposition 425, the Permanent Base Adjustment, is on the ballot. Fellow voters have the opportunity to decide whether the city should continue to provide the types and amounts of services it currently provides to residents.

The measure does not increase taxes. Approval of the Permanent Base Adjustment would only allow the city to spend the funds it currently has and reasonably anticipates receiving in the coming fiscal year. City revenues include sales taxes, state-shared revenues, fees and fines, state and federal grants and donations.

Cottonwood was a tiny little village of 4,200 residents back in 1979-1980 when the Arizona Constitution was amended to include an Expenditure Limitation. Every four years since 1981, voters approved a temporary adjustment to the city’s 1979-80 base expenditure limitation, commonly known as Home Rule.

This time, the city is proposing that voters authorize a permanent adjustment to the 1979-80 base expenditure limitation, to bring the city’s annual expenditure limitations in line with the types and levels of municipal services the city currently provides, as opposed to those it provided 30 years ago. Increases in the city’s base expenditure limitation would be possible only if the voters approved it in the future.

The current Expenditure Limitation is based on the city’s circumstances more than 30 years ago. Our Fire Department was largely volunteer then. We now have a full-time professional Fire Department. Years ago we did not have public transportation. Now the Cottonwood Area Transit System provides rides to workers, children, youth, families, and seniors so they can get where they need to go, whether to a job, school, a doctor’s appointment or shopping for necessities like food and prescriptions.

Now the city provides water to its residents, and through municipal ownership has been able to conserve a great deal of water through water management programs and conservation measures.

Gone are the days of receiving emergency notices to stop using water because the water tank reservoirs were going dry. We now have a very safe and secure water system.

Back 30 years ago, the city did not have a wastewater collection system. Everyone had a septic tank. The citizens of Cottonwood have supported expansion of their public library through several elections and we now have an extraordinary library. Citizens now enjoy a wide range of recreational programs and events for children, teens, adults and seniors.

We did not have Riverfront Park 30 years ago. Now we have many beautiful and much-used park facilities and ball fields that residents use and treasure. Thirty years ago we did not have a community garden or a park for our furry friends. We all enjoy the streets projects the city has completed in the past few years, including Aspen Street, 12th Street between 89A and Mingus, Mingus Avenue between Willard and 89A, Willard Extension, Fir Street and Mingus Avenue Extension, and we are all looking forward to current plans for upgrades to 12th Street between Fir and 89A, and 10th Street.

A lot has changed in Cottonwood in 30 years. We now have many services on which we’ve come to rely for our daily living and quality of life. Additionally, our population has tripled in the past 30 years, so the limitations placed on our budget in 1979-1980 do not accommodate our need for services today.

I’ve lived here 27 years and have loved every minute of it! Besides the services our city provides, we all may enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. There’s bicycling, hang gliding, hiking, river kayaking and rafting, equestrian activities and bird and wildlife watching for us to enjoy on a daily basis.

It’s a joy to live in the most beautiful place in the world.

For all of these reasons, I am supporting Proposition 425, Permanent Base Adjustment, and encourage my fellow voters to do the same.

Diane Joens is the Mayor of Cottonwood.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Article comment by: Doug Bartosh

Short Memory - The report you looked at is dated June 30, 2012 which represents a picture in time of the city's finances. Today $4.7 million is actually representative of investment. The remaining funds, which revolve in and out of the accounts, are debt service reserves that are required by the loans ($9.2 million), funds held by the paying agents ($1.7 million), and a capital fund account of $17 million that will be used for planned capital projects. These funds will move in and out of these accounts as debt service payments are made and capital projects are completed. The funds available for capital projects cannot be used for day to day operations.

Again, you have seen the city's budget and it is very long and complex. Please feel free to contact our Financial General Manager, Rudy Rodriguez, at 340-2710 for further information. Also, I really encourage the public to attend the upcoming budget meetings.

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Article comment by: Funny- 'Question for' could just dial a phone- -

Get their answer and share it with us all- yet they seem to refuse to make the call?

The document they refer to does list info such as - amounts and maturities- why the dog and pony show?

Make the call... get your answer...unless you are really just on a power trip and playing games?

If so stop wasting the public's time on your games just because you are afraid to make a phone call or send and email.

No answers will be good enough for you because you don't want the answers- all you want is to say jump and have folks ask you 'how high'...

Make the call or stop spouting falsehoods- simple idea really.

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Article comment by: Question for Mr. Bartosh

Thank you to City Manager Bartosh for his comments. It is helpful for citizens to understand this issue.

According to the Citys 2012 Financial Report


it does appear on page 51 that the city has close to $35 million invested with the State Treasurer Investment Pool.

The statement shows a significant portion of these investments mature in up to 5 years.

Would not these amounts be considered more long term investments rather than short term cash flow?

It would also be helpful if we could get the current amount the City has invested with the State Treasurer.

Thank you.

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Article comment by: Doug Bartosh

"Short memory" seems to be short on facts as well and I have seen the misrepresentation of the facts several times. The statement that the city has $35 million stored away is simply not true. Does the city have that amount in the accounts at any one time? Usually at the beginning of the year when most of the debt payments are due similar to the first of the month for a personal bank account. To infer that the city is hoarding $35 million of the taxpayers money is untrue and to continually state such is a disservice to the citizens of Cottonwood. If anyone would like more information regarding the city's budget, please participate in the public budget hearings that are beginning in June, go to the city's website and review the budget for yourself, or contact the city's Finance General Manager at 634-2710. He is always available to respond to questions.

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013
Article comment by: What's clarified?

Of course it's not a tax increase.

What needs to be clarified is that it's not a tax reduction, either.

It simply makes tax increases more likely and tax reductions virtually impossible.

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

The community has tripled in the last 30yrs and so have the taxes.
4200 population 30yrs ago and 10,000 today
3x 4200 = 12,600?
Numbers don't lie,politicians do.Population is nearer 10,000,much nearer.
Politically speaking of course.

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: Yessirree !!!

Yes indeed you need to vote for this, but thanks for the reminder of the beautiful place Cottonwood was 30 years ago when it was only 4200 people and now the Phoenix like place some want it to be. And how we didn't have to worry if we would have enough water back then, and there were lots of mom and pop businesses before wally world. And real lumber yards. And historic ranch houses weren't allowed to be torn down. Was a much better place back then for many reasons, and so glad I was here then. Too bad our town leaders don't have a better sense of better, not bigger.

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

It's not about raising taxes,it's about spending tax money wisely.If tax money was spent wisely you wouldn't need this vote.
It's about transparency and trust and your office has neither.Let's play politics and just
lie to the public.

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: Give citizens before invoking new laws.

The city of Cottonwood need to give its citizens
their "Full Voting Rights" before the city invokes
any new laws.

Also, since the mayor says that taxes won't go
up...the logical response of the voters should
be a NO vote for question 425.

But since the "Full Voting Rights" for citizens
won't be in place for this election the true
outcome for all ballot questions and positions
will be unkown to election officials, city officials
and most important to the citizens.

Two main reasson for lack of "Full Voting Rights"

There is NO ballot "chain of custody" in the mail
scheme...hence ballot "stuffing"/"tampering" can

Counting of votes is done by machine with NO
hand count to verify the machine "results"...!!!

Thanks and Good Luck,

Frank Henry
Cottonwood, Arizona

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: T. Hearn

This is none of my business, but I can't help wondering how making the current spending permanent is any better than voters approving a given amount over the 1979-1980 spending limitation every four years.

How will relieving residents of the responsibility of thinking about city spending for a few years keep Cottonwood "the most beautiful place in the world"?

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: Short Memory

Perhaps Mayor Joens has somehow forgotten about the 36% increase in the sales tax rate from a few years ago.

That most definitely is a tax increase, no denying it. Voting yes continues and perpetuates this increased tax.

Unfortunately, Mayor Joens neglects to mention that Cottonwood already has way more money than it knows how to spend. The city's financial report from 2012 shows it hoards some $35 million of its citizen's money.

Apparently, that's not enough.

And unfortunately Mayor Joens fails to mention that voting yes permanently denies citizens an important right: their right to vote on future city budgets.

And no mention that the level of permanently higher spending the bureaucrats are requesting is significantly higher than the average annual city budget from the past decade.

Unfortunately, it appears Mayor Joens is all about enabling an increasingly self-serving city bureaucracy, while ignoring the plight of her impoverished constituents.

Census stats shows some 22% of Cottonwood citizens live in poverty. The median household income is a third less than the statewide average. Two out of three single mothers suffer in poverty.

Paying the city's regressive 3% rental tax no doubt makes it much tougher for these single moms to put food on the table for their kids.

Meanwhile, even lower level city management rakes in close to six-figure salaries.

These bureaucratic elites are increasingly setting policies that serve themselves first, thanks to a supine city council.

Voting no on this issue is one of the only ways citizens have to protect their rights and rein in excessive taxes.

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Article comment by: Thank You for the much needed clarification!!!

Thank You Mayor Joens! There has been so much false information given out as to what the Permanent Base Adjustment means to our community and we needed this clarification!

Please vote Yes! on Proposition 425, for our city, for our community and for our families! It is a joy to live in the most beautiful place in the world, let's keep it that way!

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