"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Tempe city hall keeps digging into taxpayer pockets

  Usually I don't agree with much of anything that jackbooted police thugs say about politics. But in this case I think retired Mesa cop Bill Richardson is right. When it comes to taxes, the royal rulers of Tempe are a bunch of thieves!!!!


Richardson: Tempe city hall keeps digging into taxpayer pockets

Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012 3:59 pm

Guest Commentary by Bill Richardson

If you're a Tempe taxpayer, you didn't want to read the headline from this week's Tribune: Tempe's next challenge: finding $36M to pay for lake's new dam.

After I read it I could feel City Hall getting ready to pick my pocket again.

The story tells how Tempe has to figure out a way to pay for a new dam on the west end of Town Lake. Tempe may also need $8-$10 million on top of the $36 million for a new dam on the lake's east end. Millions Tempe doesn't have.

Tempe is looking at replacing the current rubber dam with a metal dam, even though they just spent $5 million on a pedestrian bridge/spray system to moisten the rubber dam in order to keep it from drying out and blowing up like the last dam.

Garin Groff reported Tempe "has to figure out how to pay for the project, and whether taxpayers will be on the hook for part or all of the cost." Tempe residents pay one way or another. We always do.

The city reportedly is looking at "leasing or selling more than 100 acres it owns along the lake or holding an election for voter-approved bonds, which are tied to property taxes. Or, it could do some of both." Either way it's more money out of residents' pockets.

According to Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, if an election is necessary, it could wait until November 2013. Hallman, who has run Tempe since 2004, leaves office in July.

Tempe residents were just treated to a property tax increase. My property taxes went up a $100 a year. We also just got hit with another water rate increase. My water bill is looking more and more like my electric bill. In 2009, they increased water bills 10 percent. In 2008, the council voted to keep property taxes elevated in order to pay city bills.

Last year, Tempe coerced us to vote for a sales tax increase or suffer cuts in police officers on the beat.

Tempe taxpayers, the gift to city hall that keeps on giving.

The current regime at city hall takes from us to support their free spending habits while other cities in the East Valley spend less and get more bang for the buck.

I pointed out in my May 13, 2011 column that Tempe should spend less, and cut more before raising taxes: "Tempe, population 161,719, has 1,602 employees or 9.9 per 1,000 residents, the most in the East Valley. Mesa, population 439,041, has 8.2; Chandler, population 236,123, 6.6; and Gilbert, population 208,453, has 5.7. Tempe's city council is the highest paid in the East Valley. The part-time mayor makes $54,409 annually and council members get $27,747. Other East Valley mayors and council members average $37,000 and $19,000. Tempe spends $410 per resident for policing - Chandler, $350; Mesa, $321; and Gilbert, $176."

All East Valley cities have a much lower crime rate than Tempe's.

Tempe also pays 33 percent of the mayor and council's salary into the state retirement fund. Tempe chooses to give the part-time council a pension.

Other East Valley cities obviously do fine with less. Why not Tempe?

If Tempe spent per resident what Mesa spends on policing, they'd save taxpayers over $14 million a year. In three years, Tempe could save enough money to pay for a new dam.

Why can't Tempe replicate the staffing and policing cost efficiencies demonstrated by Mesa and other East Valley cities? Forbes Magazine just named Mesa the 7th Safest City in America. Gilbert is consistently named one of nation's safest cities. Chandler was just named the ninth best-run city in America.

Tempe Town Lake's costs worry some residents

It sounds like Tempe Town Toilet is a government welfare program for the businesses in downtown Tempe. Also the city of Tempe uses the Tempe Town Toilet to raise revenue for the city by holding rock concerts at the Town Toilet. Those rock concerts cause huge traffic jams in downtown Tempe, along with disturbing the peace for people that live and work near the town toilet.


Tempe Town Lake's costs worry some residents

by Dianna M. Nez - Jan. 14, 2012 06:26 AM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Residents at a city forum Wednesday were supportive of the steel-dam technology Tempe is recommending for Town Lake, but some people worried about the cost of maintaining the lake.

Tempe residents Susie and Steve Matazzoni, who attended the forum, said they love the lake. They also support the engineers' recommendation to replace the temporary rubber dam with a hydraulically operated hinged crest steel gate for the dam.

But the couple thinks the city has yet to present a thorough cost-benefit analysis of maintaining Town Lake. The time to do that review is now before the city asks taxpayers to foot the bill for a steel dam that will cost $35.4 million to construct and an estimated $32.7 million to maintain over its 50-year life cycle, the Matazzonis said.

"Where's the money for that?" Susie Matazzoni asked Assistant City Manager Jeff Kulaga, who has managed the dam-selection project and who, along with city engineers Chris Kabala and Andy Goh, gave Wednesday's presentation.

"That's the tough part," Kulaga said.

He said that the city is considering a few options for financing the project including selling city property and seeking voter approval for bond authorization for dam-replacement costs or a combination of the two.

"What is the backup if the bond doesn't pass?" Matazzoni asked.

Kulaga said that in that case, Tempe may seek a lease-purchase agreement. Tempe could take what is essentially a loan to finance construction and then make payments on the dam.

The lease-purchase agreement option would still not fund long-term annual operations. The Matazzonis asked how Tempe would pay for those and whether other city services would be cut.

Kulaga explained some money for the dam operations would likely come from the general fund. He acknowledged that there would likely be a future review of how budgeting for that would affect funding of other services or projects.

After the meeting, the Matazzonis said that they were still undecided on whether they would vote for a bond.

"We're all for the lake. It's a good thing for Tempe, but we need to ask at what cost?" Steve Matazzoni said. "They always say it's the second-most-visited attraction in the state. But what else? Does the city gain money on this to help offset the cost of maintaining the lake, or is it totally draining (the budget)?"

"If you can't pay for the dam, maybe it's time to let the lake go," Susie Matazzoni said.

Tempe city leaders and tourist analysts have said that the major events hosted at the lake are an economic draw for the city and state. A 2009 city report based on tourism data showed that visitors to the lake since it was built have spent $118.2 million in the state on hotels, food, entertainment and other expenses.

The city still foots some costs for major events, but tourism experts say that the lake has raised the Valley's profile and ability to attract out-of-state promoters. The Ironman Arizona triathlon brings thousands of out-of-state visitors.

Still, Tempe has to pay millions of dollars for annual costs associated with the lake. Tempe's goal had been for private lake development to pay for 60 percent of annual lake operations and maintenance. But as of 2009, private development paid for only about 19 percent.

Some residents at the forum said that the cost of the lake is worth the value it brings to the region.

Dick Dippold, Michael Oglesby and Jack Donovan and Bill Justus, who regularly kayak or fish at the lake, said they would vote for the bond because the lake is a recreational asset for the state.

"It's a big draw for triathletes ... for people across the Valley," Dippold said. "There's always something going on there."


Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Cesspool for the Arts