Guest Editorials

| More

Do you expect to see the future in your rear view mirror?

By Peter Koteas | February 3, 2010

peter koteasA famous social philosopher once said, “The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.”

Simply stated, “elected officials of Carefree have done a poor job of parenting.”

A core group of individuals in Carefree simply want to control our Town, regardless of what YOU want. As desirous as they are to protect the remnants of the past, they have failed to plan for the future. Ask yourselves “why is this group constantly talking about “yesterday”: free fire protection (nothing is free), paying cash for a fire house, paving a dusty parking lot … all to the tune of $5 Million plus (remember, free), and blah, blah, blah to the point of ad nauseam?”

Have you noticed they never address the future of our community! Would you like to know why? Because they do not have a plan for Carefree’s future, that’s why!

An ongoing plan to sustain the financial well being of our Town simply does not exist. I am referring to a plan that encourages commercial investment, a plan that guarantees a consistent stream of visitors, a plan that provides for incremental growth of our Town’s finances. Yet, if anyone asks tough questions along these lines, they are labeled uncivil or worse yet, as being against preserving the “Carefree life style.” I ran for public office to represent YOU and not those that have clouded the decision-making process which is so important to good government.

Not having been given the opportunity, along with other council members, to participate in the recent thinly veiled political mailing, entitled “State of Our Town,” I feel compelled to share a personal tidbit that I am hopeful will serve as an analogy of where I believe Carefree is headed.

Several years ago we began Phase One of our personal “retirement plan” which included monthly disbursements, carefully and conservatively calculated on anticipated earnings from years of personal savings and 401K contributions. The past two years have certainly altered our “great plan” as we watched our bucket of savings spring a leak.

Carefree has savings (reserves) too. They are earning somewhere in the neighborhood of two tenths of 1 percent annually, which is not enough to keep up with the projected rate of inflation, (see Couple this with our shrinking sales tax and shared State revenue, and you will see that Carefree’s bucket is also leaking. Carefree needs to go back to work!

My family has earning options. Carefree does not. Ask yourself, “if the Town has been so wonderfully run, why isn’t there a plan for continued prosperity in place?” The economic engine of Carefree has begun to slow down and, like it or not, without a significant boost in its power will eventually come to a screeching halt.

Yes, Carefree does have substantial unencumbered reserves; however, as many citizens believe, reserves should be invested in capital improvements or emergencies. I ask you, “Is poor fiscal management and the absence of planning for economic growth an emergency?”
For the second consecutive year, at the very least, the Town is unable to properly maintain its interior roads, or even to consider anything beyond basic services. Why? A major reason is that we are obligated to subsidize the cost of fire protection and the Municipal Court using dollars from the Town’s general fund or reserves in excess of $750,000 or more per year.
Reality tells us that the unstable and unreliable revenue source of both has fallen far short of break even. Just since the fiscal year ending in June of 2008, $1,228,111 has evaporated from the reserve fund. When we consider these facts, without substantial improvement in our ability to attract visitors, merchants, and land owner investment, Carefree will be faced with very difficult decisions in the near future.

Continuing to look in the rear view mirror and say, “the Town has been well run” is somewhat of an exaggeration. Four council members (a simple council majority) have the power to generate income by increasing the sales tax burden. Carefree’s sales tax rate was doubled in 1998 and increased again by 50 percent in 2005. Yet, I cannot find any hard evidence that any previous Town Council has invested any of the excess dollars in exploring ways to sustain the flow of revenue beyond hoping the Arizona economy would continue to grow. Responsible leadership would embrace ideas from every source without prejudging the motive of the source. We simply do not have a plan for tomorrow.

It is abundantly clear to me that it is time to put yesterday in its place (the past) and turn our attention and focus solely on tomorrow; a focus that shines a bright light on Carefree’s unique points of difference. We all share in this responsibility. It is our collective responsibility to care for our great little Town in a way that will provide for a sustainable financial future.

To this end, after careful consideration, and for the sake of Carefree’s future, I endorse John Traynor as a candidate for Town Council. John is a person of vision that will work diligently to help us arrive safely. I ask that you join me.