What if Home Rule Fails?


In our home rule arguments, we suggest that if it is defeated then the council can bring it back to the voters in conjunction with fiscal reforms. In a Facebook post attacking Verl Farnsworth in his campaign against David Luna it was suggested that a special election to prove a point was a waste of money and that I share what the specific reforms would be.

It has since been brought to our attention that there may be limitations on how soon Home Rule could be restored and under what conditions. If this is the case then the only way to restore fiscal sanity is to vote against all of the ballot measures and to elect councilmen with an understanding of finance and a willingness to address the problem.

Over the period of five years that home rule would be extended, the city will spend over two billion dollars on general operations and over two billion dollars on “enterprise” activities that affect utility rates. A million dollars for an election is a small price to pay for accountability of billions of dollars. Should we trim internal and external audit functions as well? This is penny-wise and pound foolish.

The city claims that without a renewal of home-rule they will have to cut spending by $200 million. In reality, they could maintain that level of spending but have to pay a penalty to the state. Estimates at that level of spending would be about $40 million hit, still painful but not as catastrophic.

For a city facing such a doomsday scenario, you’d expect they prepared for that until they get the voter approval. Instead they are asking you to issue another $196 million in projects through Question 3 and 4, even though they aren’t committed to using it on the specific items listed in the ballot proposal. Part of this will go to fund the non-essential Mesa Plays project, whose emphasis will be on hosting athletic tournaments for out of town teams, not to solve a need for local athletic fields. The bed tax in Question 6 to help pay for this could be better used to pay off debt or pay for necessary services.

A city facing a doomsday would not have approved, just five months before this election, a $63 million for a non-essential ASU campus, which will cost over $100 million after interest.       

I don’t know if the city has a contingency plan. You may want to ask your Councilman. Here’s a proposal. Ask them what they would do If they were told by their creditors told you that had to improve the city’s credit rating, stop deficit spending, and maintain your reserves at 20% through the next five years without shifting the burden to residents. Speculative economic development projects with vague returns are not allowed. What specific expenses would be cut, what specifically would remain, what projects would you defer and what projects would you defer and what are the respective costs of each

Special bonus question. In the “Great Recession”, sales taxes dropped $21million from FY 2008 to FY 2009 and didn’t return to the 2008 level until 2016. The only contingency in the current plan is to shift $9 million between several years. Is this adequate and, if not, what would you do?