ASU, Mesa Sales Tax and Mesa Utilities

ASU, Utilities and Sales Tax

The East Valley Tribune has a couple of good articles about what’s going on in Mesa. One is about the City of Mesa giveaway to ASU for a downtown campus:

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/news/mesa-gives-asu-new-deal-for-school-in-downtown/article_317c0616-263f-11e8-9329-83075a740598.html

The other is about the utility rates:

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/mesa/mesa-weighs-raising-utility-rates-already-among-valley-s-highest/article_0ef24d24-31ea-11e8-b428-c3414b50f6c5.html

Both articles contain misleading information, not by the reporter, but by the city officials that were quoted.

When Mayor Giles says that it will not be funded by a tax increase, what he fails to mention that the city is talking about a .25% sales tax increase to fund public safety, which would raise about $25 million a year. Even if such a tax were necessary, it could be deferred for three years if $75 million weren’t diverted to the ASU project.

It is also misleading for Giles to say that the ASU will not cause the need to raise utility rates increases when the impact of those increases will go to replace revenues diverted from funds that could go to general operations.

When we are told that money has been earmarked for economic development, keep in mind that those funds could be just as easily earmarked to general operation revenues or to pay off debt. The economic impact study cited by Giles does not answer the question: What is the net present value of the incremental revenues from the project less the incremental costs in services. I’ve seen the report and it simply is not there.

The irony is not lost that for all the discussion of “higher education” the city ignores basic economic analysis and chooses to play a shell game with taxpayer’s money that relies on feel good projects and keeping its citizens ignorant of what money is being spent and where it’s coming from.

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