Bye-bye food tax - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Bye-bye food tax

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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013 11:49 am | Updated: 10:14 am, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

“I join (Councilwoman Thelda Williams) in advocating for a tax that will expire in April 2013, saving taxpayers $100 million.” — Mayoral candidate Greg Stanton on Phoenix food tax, Ahwatukee Foothills News, Sept. 17, 2011 (http://www.ahwatukee.com/arts_life/article_36ed8874-dfea-11e0-b9c8-001cc4c03286.html).

Candidates make promises. They become commitments when elected. It’s important for government — and the people who citizens elect to run it — to follow through on commitments. It’s about trust. No more scare tactics. No more delays. No more phony stories about how police and fire will be cut.

Councilman Jim Waring and I have sent a letter to Mayor Stanton asking him to schedule a meeting and a vote on the food tax as soon as possible to meet his campaign promise to abolish this ill-conceived tax by April. Other council members and I have a long-running commitment to repeal the food tax.

It is time to rid our city of the tax on the poor … the food tax. Council members Bill Gates, Williams, Waring and I have worked relentlessly to get this rescinded. With the mayor and his commitment, we will finally remove this from our history and from your family’s grocery bill.

The food tax has been the No. 1 complaint I have heard since it was passed with barely 24-hour legal public notice. It was hidden even from some members of the City Council until the last moment. This “middle of the night” maneuver not only robbed our citizens of more than $50 million a year, but it made citizens in our great city feel betrayed by their own government.

Since that episode, Phoenix has made great strides to repair the damage of trust that was done, with a much improved financial position, zero-based budgeting and effective innovations and efficiencies.

During the mayoral campaign, Mayor Stanton made a promise — one I intend to help him keep. It was a promise to get rid of the food tax by April 2013.

It’s the most regressive tax on the poor. We have been pressing for this repeal since the inception of this tax and have lost several votes to do so — that last one by a single vote.

I’m looking forward to helping the mayor fulfill his campaign commitment. I’m looking forward to seeing this item on a City Council agenda soon enough to have it repealed by April 2013. I and Councilman Waring have asked the mayor to instruct staff to put together the plan that accomplishes the repeal without affecting public safety and call for the vote.

This means voting on it by April for a repeal to take effect in April. It doesn’t mean sending it to voters to repeal, which couldn’t happen until August at the earliest — and still would probably take effect much later. The commitment was the repeal by April 2013.

We will be talking about this in the neighborhoods and throughout Phoenix from now until this gets rescinded. And I’m looking forward to seeing a plan soon that eliminates the food tax without hurting public safety, as was originally promised.

I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time, and I’m excited about the prospect of fulfilling that commitment and ending this unfair tax. We have enough time to prepare for its elimination.

Mayoral candidate Stanton on the food tax: “The food tax needs to be repealed as soon as possible. If I was able to vote last week, I would have supported a repeal of the food tax two years early… We can do this as soon as April 2013 and save taxpayers $100 million while also protecting key city services.” — Greg Stanton, ABC 15, Nov. 6, 2011 (http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/local_news/hear_me_out/3-questions-for-phoenix%27s-next-mayor).

“I support ending the food tax, and was the first candidate to give a deadline by when to do so.” — Greg Stanton, Arizona Republic, Oct. 3, 2011 (http://www.azcentral.com/insiders/phoenixeditorials/2011/10/03/mayor-foes-debate-food-tax-repeal/).

Gullett has called for the immediate repeal of the food tax, approved by the City Council last year, while Stanton says that it should remain in place until 2013, two years before it is currently set to expire… Stanton, a former councilman, also believes that the food tax should be repealed, but in 2013. That’s two years before it is set to expire, saving taxpayers $100 million. — Phoenix New Times, Sept. 15, 2011 (http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/09/poll_phoenix_food_tax_leaves_b.php).

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at council.district.6@phoenix.gov or (602) 262-7491.

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