Letters to editor: Prop 406 - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Letters to editor: Prop 406

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010 4:29 pm | Updated: 3:33 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Readers haven't been shy about expressing their feelings regarding Proposition 406, the proposed .25 percent sales tax increase in Gilbert. Here's a sampling of letters we've received.

Readers haven't been shy about expressing their feelings regarding Proposition 406, the proposed .25 percent sales tax increase in Gilbert. Here's a sampling of letters we've received.

Family is worth it: Vote yes on 406

I finally had to break down and buy new tires for the Suburban the first of April. I paid around $670 total at Discount Tire here in Gilbert.

I didn’t really have the cash, as times are tough, but I did it because I wanted my wife and kids to be safe. Regardless of road conditions or other vehicles, I was investing in keeping them as safe as I could. With the new .25 of 1 percent sales tax increase (Prop 406) I would have paid an additional $1.65 or so on top of the $670 I spent. I would have gladly done so, to protect my wife and kids. To make sure that regardless of circumstances, the police officers and fire rescue professionals would be able to get there on time... because it doesn’t matter how much I saved if someone I love loses their life. In an accident or a life threatening emergency, the shortage of officers means they may not get there in time or your house burns to the ground.

This is a true story about what I did a few weekends ago and how I will be voting on May 18th.

My family is worth it to me. So is yours. Don’t believe the hype. The reality is that even those on the Town Council opposed to this tax agree with all the experts that cuts will affect public safety.

Mark Sequeira, Small business owner, Gilbert

Proposition blatantly misleading

I am writing to express my extreme opposition with Proposition 406 in Gilbert. This proposition not only blatantly misleads and misinforms the public, it's very intent is irresponsible and frivolous and comes with a high cost and severe repercussions to an already struggling economy. Our community is filled with hard-working citizens that take time and pride in planning and maintaining their personal budgets to support their families; I would encourage our town government to do the same. If we use the current revenue resources, and make cuts -- no tax increases -- we all win.

Christine Halverson, Gilbert

Think long-term: Vote yes

What logic some of our elected officials seem to have. Our esteemed mayor and his rookie sidekick Jenn Daniels appear to subscribe to the live for today and let tomorrow take care of its self philosophy. Their idea to once again transfer funds which have either been designated for other uses or contingency reserves held for possible future downturns is nothing more then pandering to their elector base in hopes of getting re-elected in the future.

If the citizens of Gilbert want to maintain and improve the level of fire, police and other city services that we have enjoyed in the past, passage of Prop. 406 will not only ensure that, but will also ensure that the town holds on to their current cash reserves, and thereby is in a good position to handle any possible future financial problems. It’s time our elected officials think long-term rather then short-term. Lets not kick this can down the road any further!

Tom Borin Sr., Gilbert

Regarding Prop 406 tax

To all the firemen who are at the grocery stores trying to convince the Gilbert residents that they will lose their jobs if the tax hike does not pass, I would like to inform them of some major facts that some on the Council, or their unions, or Town management are not telling them....

1) The Town of Gilbert has not implemented the $17 million in cuts and cost-saving measures that were recommended by the Citizen's Budget Committee, that was created by the Council in the fall of 2009.

2) The Town of Gilbert has almost $20 Million in a "rainy day" reserve fund.

3) The Town has projected a huge deficit for the last four years and they have ended up with a surplus.

4) The sales tax does NOT go into a public safety fund, but goes into a general fund that includes many expenditures including special events, charitable donations and parks and rec programs, etc., that could be funded first at the council's discretion --which should be funded and promoted by the private sector. This would translate into community involvement from citizens and faith-based groups, and jobs for the private sector who want to capitalize on the parks and rec programs -- that the town loses money on. We need to get the Town government out of the charitable, fun and games, and special event business, to allow the community to "do it's thing".

5) This is exactly what the council would have to do without the tax increase -- spend the budget on non-essentials, instead of on public safety. YOU are just the "bargaining tool", the pawn, to convince the citizens of Gilbert to allocate more money to entitlement spending in the name of public safety.

6) And if some in this council are concerned about dollars, and the projected deficits, why have they not moved the council elections to the fall of this year to combine the cost with the state elections? That is thousands of dollars saved -- doesn't it count unless it is millions (to those council members: thousands saved add up to millions). Does a person in office become so callous that thousands of dollars mean nothing. Three council members voted not to discuss this issue in the last council meeting. Apparently these thousands mean nothing in saving our police and fire fighters jobs -- just theirs.

Susan Hicks, Gilbert

Facts support 406

Dear Gilbert residents, I’m writing to urge you to vote yes on Prop. 406. I’m not using fear, deception or misinformation, but facts for you to ponder. The importance of passing this bill is basically employee retention, because the job isn’t going away, it’s the employees! A total of 127 employees will be laid off — 37 police, 12 fire — and that’s just to start with! Please think about the young men and women, rookies, risking their lives to protect this community. They’ve bought homes and are providing for their families, only to lose their stability because of tight-fisted selfishness, misplaced rhetoric or plain stinginess! This tax is very affordable, really unnoticeable. For every $100 spent, you pay an extra .25 cents! Anyone spending money in Gilbert will support it, thus saving jobs. I’m a town employee with nothing to gain (possibly lose in the future) from this tax. We have forfeited two years of pay increases, no overtime, and our workload doubled when losing personnel. We recently took a 3 percent cut in pay, while still willing to pay the tax increase, our sacrifice to save jobs and help the town’s budget. Every department in the town’s workforce is undermanned, and underpaid when compared to other municipalities in the Valley.

These young men and women are major reasons why Gilbert is highly rated as a clean, safe community to raise a family. So please fellow citizens, vote yes on Prop. 406, to prevent employee losses which could undermine the structure, safety, stability and operation of Gilbert.

Don Bevineau, Gilbert

Tax should be half-cent

Opposition to Gilbert’s one-fourth cent sales tax hike is difficult to understand, unless the complaint is the increase is too small. This diehard Goldwater Conservative can see we will actually need a one-half cent sales tax increase, as well as a secondary property tax to maintain our great quality of life. Facts prove this.

First, Gilbert has always had the leanest town staff operation in the Valley; Town Council and staff have been frugal and wise with our money; five citizen committees found no luxuries in the budget; and the adopted citizen recommended cuts provided only small deficit reductions.

Second, the free ride is over. We can’t deny that housing boom impact fees and related sales taxes paid for our current lifestyle. For example, average impact fees increased from $3,000 in 1996 to around $17,000 by 2008, providing streams of money. That revenue level is gone, likely for decades.

Third, economic forecasters virtually all agree the vibrant economy existing prior to 2008 will not return for several years, if ever. This leaves us two choices: Tax ourselves or reduce our quality of life.

If we choose lower quality of life, what do we sacrifice? Our superb parks and recreation system? Our superb citizen services? Our public safety? Do we abandon our water reclamation and Riparian system that has us fast becoming a Minneapolis in the desert? Do we accept an inferior infrastructure? Should we cease improving our roads and streets beyond current bond appropriations, living with scalloped roads, outdated intersections and other traffic obstructions?

Our fortunate circumstance is we don’t have to give up anything. Our current tax base is so low we could enact a one-half cent sales tax and secondary property tax increase without adversely affecting our tax competitiveness, or financially burdening ourselves.

Tax increase opponents often say low municipal taxes attract commerce. The counterpoint is quality of life has the greater appeal. Mesa has long been the low tax king in the Valley, but businesses aren’t lining up to go there. People aren’t either. Some of the most vocal opponents of Gilbert’s tax hike fled Mesa years ago, after they helped send Mesa into decline.

We can all agree on preserving what we have. As a noted Gilbert liberal remarked, “Most of us didn’t come to Gilbert because it was the least expensive. We moved here for the quality of life.”

I especially encourage Gilbert’s conservative and libertarian residents to support the sales tax increase for credibility. After all, we always correctly remind liberals “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.

A yes vote for Prop 406 is a positive act for our future.

Fred L. Pinkney, Gilbert

Have you seen the signs against the proposed tax increase for Gilbert? Taxed Enough Already. In other words, the Tea Party. Are you kidding me? These people don’t just want less government, they want everyone else to have less of everything, too. And, that’s what will happen if we don’t vote for the Gilbert tax increase on May 18. We’ll have less public safety and less security for our homes, for our families and businesses. Please don’t let this happen. I’m asking Gilbert residents not to listen to the propaganda that the Tea Party wants you to believe, and remember what public safety means to you and your family.

Raquel Fioresi, Gilbert

Keep Gilbert safe

I don’t get the opponents of Prop. 406.

If they could offer up a realistic alternative to balance our town budget while maintaining both essential services and our quality of life, then I would be the first to listen. But they haven’t.

Gutting town government is not the answer, especially when Gilbert’s government is already leaner than almost every other city in Arizona. I think the one thing that almost all residents of our town can agree on is that we have it pretty good here in Gilbert. We are recognized as one of the most livable cities in the United States.

We are one of the safest communities. I am not willing to put that at risk. I will be voting yes on Proposition 406 and I encourage my fellow residents to join me.

Melody Justus, Gilbert

Vote no on tax hike

For the past four years, the Gilbert Town Council has struggled to balance the budget. The numbers change constantly, but the latest deficit seems to be around $8 million to $10 million after counting reductions already identified.

The question now is, should we raise taxes or reduce more spending to balance the budget?

As I have reviewed the facts during the 2009 Citizen’s Budget Committee, I learned that the budget can be balanced very quickly and without job losses.

So, where will be money come from if we don’t raise taxes? There are many ideas, but here are just a few areas that don’t affect police and fire service. 

• $19 million in a rainy-day fund;

• $2 million to $3 million in pulling buffer from the budget;

• $1 million to $2 million in immediate spending freezes and efficiencies;

• $1 million in reductions in contract spending.

Yes, these are short-term fixes, but they will balance the budget this year without job losses. For next year, a solid efficiency and accountability plan will easily surface another $10 million $20 million dollars. This type of leadership occurs in the best businesses and good governments every day.

So who is saying we must cut police and fire? Not the citizens. We want the best public safety available. The only individuals I’m hearing talk about cuts to police and fire services are a few members on the Town Council and the town staff. Why would they threaten to cut public safety when it’s not even necessary?

Doesn’t this sound like the bank robber that said, “Give me the money, or I’ll shoot!” Unfortunately, we’ve heard this old line before. Fear tactics don’t work. Phoenix fell for this a few years ago and is now cutting policemen. Don’t be fooled. Vote No on Proposition 406.

Jared Taylor, Gilbert

Vote 'yes’ to keep Gilbert safe

I remember driving through the farm fields of Gilbert on my way home from work just a few years back. I have watched Gilbert grow to what is now a fairly large city, complete with a beautiful outdoor mall I now pass through on my way home. Throughout it all, one thing has remained true about Gilbert — the strong sense of community. I think I speak for every resident of Gilbert when I say that I wish the economic recession we have all endured, hadn’t happened.

Unfortunately when a recession hits, tax revenues go down. Our town council has had to make extremely tough choices to keep our budget balanced. I do not envy their position during this economic downturn. Proposition 406 is a very realistic proposal to keep our public safety services at the levels we have all come to expect in Gilbert. When it comes to public safety, we cannot risk it. Please vote yes on Proposition 406 and keep our town safe.

Betsy Rice, Gilbert

Support Prop 406

We have cut property taxes here in Gilbert and we have less government employees per capita than nearly every other city in the state. I’m supporting Prop. 406 because there isn’t really any fat left to cut. The safety of my family is important to me and I do not want to see a situation in Gilbert where emergency response times go up because we have made layoffs to our police and fire departments.

Christy Laubhan, Gilbert

406 is only solution

It’s time to stop playing politics with Gilbert’s public safety. The opponents of Proposition 406 oppose higher taxes and for that matter, I do too. But to claim that there is another solution to the budget crisis our town is facing and the very real prospect of massive and dangerous cutbacks to public safety, is disingenuous.

I will be voting yes on Proposition 406 because as a resident of Gilbert, I care about public safety and I’m not willing to jeopardize that.

Garry Melton, Gilbert

No means "yes" to safety

How can voting NO on Prop 406, the Gilbert sales tax increase, protect public safety more than voting YES? Doesn’t no new tax mean no additional money for the town to be able to use for more police and fire? Isn’t it obvious?

Public safety is more than just police and fire. All communities and countries have police and fire protection and most have more than Gilbert, yet they are less safe than Gilbert. What is it then that really contributes the most to public safety? I believe it is good families and strong morals taught by parents and churches. A free society, with limited government, contributes the most to churches and families. With higher taxes, which equals more government, the people have less freedom and therefore are less able to flourish in an atmosphere that best contributes to public safety.

Take for example this recent threat of Gilbert outlawing home church services of “bible study” by an over-reaching town official under the guise of keeping our residential streets more clear of vehicles and congestions. This situation is very telling of what a bigger government, than the one we have, would really be doing for us.

Public safety is best preserved and maintained by the family and the freedom to worship and NOT by an increase in the size of government which raising taxes guarantees. I encourage all to Vote NO on 406 (maintaining town revenue at its current rate) to keep government limited. We need to focus on what truly adds the most to public safety; our family and our religion.

Rusdon Ray, Queen Creek

406 a realistic proposal

I remember driving through the farm fields of Gilbert on my way home from work just a few years back. I have watched Gilbert grow to what is now a fairly large city, complete with a beautiful outdoor mall I now pass through on my way home. Throughout it all, one thing has remained true about Gilbert — the strong sense of community. I think I speak for every resident of Gilbert when I say that I wish the economic recession we have all endured, hadn’t happened.

Unfortunately when a recession hits, tax revenues go down. Our town council has had to make extremely tough choices to keep our budget balanced. I do not envy their position during this economic downturn. Proposition 406 is a very realistic proposal to keep our public safety services at the levels we have all come to expect in Gilbert. When it comes to public safety, we cannot risk it. Please vote yes on Proposition 406 and keep our town safe.

Betsy Rice, Gilbert

Gilbert citizens: No tax increase needed

The three at-large members of the Citizens Budget Committee unanimously oppose the Town of Gilbert’s proposed permanent sales tax increase (Proposition 406).

As citizens of the town, we were selected and chartered by the Town Council to help resolve the town’s budget issues. In this voluntary capacity, we directly supported the Town Council. For three months we poured over the budgets and worked with the other citizen sub-committees and Town staff in reviewing hundreds of ideas.

On December 7, 2009, this work was successfully completed and presented to the Council. The recommendations contain solutions that will resolve the budget gap and return the town to financial stability, not only for this “crisis” year, but for years to come. We are disappointed that this work has been virtually ignored, and instead the Council’s effort has been to focus on a permanent tax increase, which is not needed.

None of our recommendations included the need for a permanent sales tax increase. At one point during the process, a temporary (three-year only) sales tax increase was considered, but it was defeated 10 to 2 by the citizens involved in this work.

Our fear is that if this permanent sales tax is approved, it will support continued inefficiencies that will remain in the Town’s infrastructure.

Instead, the Town needs to reapply tools that have been used successfully in business and other communities to eliminate inefficiencies and improve prioritization. This is how we can retain our services.

Our town is wonderful, but it is not perfect. The Town asked for and received expert citizen input to resolve the budget issue. The Town Council has largely ignored these recommendations and instead chosen a very different path.

Jeff Niland, William Scalzo, Jared Taylor - Gilbert

Yes on 406

The Town of Gilbert is a clean, safe, vibrant community because of the services it provides its residents. Everyone in Town government is working diligently to fund all the services residents have indicated they desire. We are not looking for funding for additional services not required at this time.

In the past four years, Gilbert has seen the population increase 40,000 and the general (operating) fund revenue decline by 21 percent. Gilbert runs as a very lean municipal government but there still is a projected shortfall of about $15 million for the coming fiscal year.

Gilbert is operating with only 5.5 employees per thousand residents while the next most efficient municipality has 6.8 employees per thousand. Does this mean we can not operate more efficiently? There are always areas for improvement. The Town staff, in conjunction with the Town Council, is working to implement as many recommendations from both the Citizen’s Budget Committee and the Town employees as feasibly possible. Cuts to public safety have been recommended. The Gilbert police force is currently staffed below the recommended level. Any further reductions will increase the response time for the police as well as fire and affect all residents requiring these services.

A yes vote on Proposition 406 will ensure Gilbert remains a clean, safe and vibrant community. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons we all moved here in the first place?

John Sentz, Gilbert Town Council member and member of the Citizens Budget Steering Committee

I lose that much in my couch!

People want to live in Gilbert and they are willing to pay for it. You could have bought your same house for less money in another city but you didn’t, you wanted to live in Gilbert. In this down economy the town is asking for help in maintaining these standards. How much is this going to cost us with Prop. 406? 25 cents for every $100 dollars. I lose that much in my couch! That would keep Gilbert at the lowest sales tax rate in the Valley (equal with Chandler) and maintain high house values and low insurance rates.

Listen to the opposition. All they can say is “The money is there” but they never say where. It is public record. They have three members from the Citizen Budget Committees who agree with them, but there were 60-plus members on those committees! Don’t let the few ruin what we have in Gilbert. Vote yes on Prop. 406.

Dennis Rice, Gilbert

Don't be misled, vote yes

As we all know, a vote for Prop. 406 is a vote for public safety. Don’t be fooled by the No on Prop. 406 signs that have sprung up around Gilbert like weeds after a spring rain. Using a play on words saying safety first, no on Prop. 406, and placing these signs right next to pro-Prop. 406 signs, these people would have you believe they support public safety, and put it first, when in fact they support their wallets and a list of hypotheticals first and safety who knows where.

Thomas Borin Sr, Gilbert

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