BY ADAM TRENK | MARCH 28, 2012
New property tax is bad for Cave Creek:
The principal opponent of Question 1 is the No Tax PAC in Opposition to Question 1. It is chaired by Vice-Mayor Ernie Bunch, and I, former Councilman Adam Trenk, am the treasurer. The No Tax PAC is not opposed to town wide fire coverage. We are opposed to the idea of a poorly conceived property tax that will burden property owners, eliminate citizens’ freedom of choice and ultimately cost the town additional tens of millions of dollars in the years to come.
Cave Creek will suffer if Question1 is approved in the upcoming election (ballots mailed on April 19). Question 1 asks the citizens to approve a tax that would burden each property owner in town with their proportionate share of a $1.3 million annual assessment to provide town wide fire and emergency medical services. However, the $1.3 million figure has no relationship to the true cost of providing current levels of fire and emergency services, and certainly is not sufficient to maintain those levels of coverage as the town grows. If the tax passes it will cause a tremendous problem for the town.
In the unfortunate scenario where Question 1 passes, the property owners of Cave Creek become saddled with a tax assessment into perpetuity and the town will face an outcry to provide citizens with the universal fire and emergency medical services promised by the tax. The problem is this will almost certainly cost more than the $1.3 million the tax generates. By way of comparison, Carefree is spending more than $1.2 million to cover is 8.9 square miles with three men on a truck. Cave Creek is about 40 square miles and is currently served by four man trucks. So, the town undoubtedly will have to spend more than $1.3 million to ensure adequate coverage. It is a horrific situation for a town of less than 6,000 residents, already more than $60 million in debt, to be borrowing and spending more money.
Simply placing Question 1 on the ballot was a reckless and irresponsible decision by the Cave Creek Council. In a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Francia, Vice-Mayor Bunch, and Councilman Esser dissenting, the elected leaders of the town sent a clear message to the community they thought a new tax was good policy. If they did not believe it was good policy, council should have left it alone since there was a clear absence of public outcry demanding the tax. If there was such outcry, Question 1 or some version of it could have been put on the ballot through the initiative process. Instead, without any real analysis of what the actual cost would be to provide sufficient perpetual fire and emergency services to the town, Question 1 has been placed before Cave Creek’s voters by the council.
If Question 1 passes it will likely be the impetus for tremendous changes in the town. Changes we will “NEED,” just like we “NEEDED” Wal-Mart to pay for the town’s water infrastructure upgrades. The town overleveraged itself to acquire and improve the water company and build a giant new waste water treatment plant. But when “business as usual” did not cover the debt load, we “NEEDED” Wal-Mart. Well, if Question 1 passes, the town will have to spend millions of dollars in excess of the new property tax’s revenues. In fact, rumor has it Cave Creek is already planning to use the tax revenues to leverage the construction of a new fire station out near the waste water treatment plant. This means more debt. More debt means more revenue will be “NEEDED. How is more revenue generated? Wal-Mart gave us an idea, and the current proposal to destroy the rural character of our community by rezoning 220 acres of DR-190 (1 home every 5 acres) to a high density mixed use development with about 20 acres designated for intense commercial purposes (estimated to generate in excess of 2,000 vehicle trips per day on School House and Fleming Springs roads) may be the first of many more such changes we will “NEED” in order to pay that debt.
Vote “NO” on Question 1. Say no to tax and spend politics that will leave us all broke. A new property tax will be bad for our wallets and bad for the town.
Adam Trenk, a former Cave Creek Town Councilman, is currently an Attorney at Rose Law Group, pc.