February 10, 2005
Bring on a Mesa property tax.
Most of the 32 residents who addressed the Mesa 2025: Financing the Future committee said it in one way or another.
"If the words ‘property tax’ come up, I for one will not call for a lynch mob," Brian Allen of Mesa said.
Allen’s words were echoed by later speakers who seemed willing to break with the past 60 years of history. Mesa has not had a property tax since 1945.
"Mesa has been undertaxed for some time," resident Ernie Johnson said. "I suggest you swallow hard, propose a tax increase and be prepared to take the heat."
For the past year, the 16-member financing committee has listened to presentations from every city department describing its anticipated needs for the next 20 years. Wednesday’s meeting was the first set aside exclusively for public comment, which lasted more than two hours.
The financing committee plans to continue meeting until it finalizes a recommendation for the City Council. Even if the committee and council eventually support a property tax, Mesa voters would need to approve it.
Residents also told the committee that Mesa needs to improve its customer service, does not treat businesses well, and must improve its roads and transportation system.
Some residents used the opportunity to tout the planned Riverview at Dobson project in west Mesa, which the developer projects will bring in about $170 million in revenue for Mesa over a 30-year period.
But other residents criticized Mesa for giving sales tax rebates to developers, including the estimated $80 million incentive package for Riverview.
Councilman and committee chairman Kyle Jones said a property tax would help, but the city must still improve efficiencies and reduce services.
"There is no one cure-all for everything," Jones said.
The committee’s next meeting is set for Feb. 23.