Guest Editorials


Taxation without representation

Property tax is taxation without representation for 37 percent of Cave Creek property owners: Vote “NO”

tablIt’s time to put it into writing so you can see in black and white why the property tax for fire protection MUST BE DEFEATED.

I’ve lived in Cave Creek for 18 years and always saw this town as a place where the people were well represented by our local government.  In the past few years, I’ve realized many of our council members are no different than the self-serving politicians in Washington who could care less what the voters that sent them to Washington really desire.

Passing a property tax to fund Rural/Metro does nothing except spread the cost of those people wanting insurance against the cost of a fire, amongst the rest of us that choose to take the risk and self-insure.  This is no different than the fact some people buy life and health insurance and others don’t.

That a for-profit business can have their services taxed into existence and forced upon the people seems to be the mantra of our federal government and how we ended up with ObamaCare, which is likely to be declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.  We can all see how well everything the government has meddled in over the years has worked.
According to the “2011 August State Abstract” as found on the Maricopa County Assessor’s website at, for assessment purposes, there are 4,072 parcels of land in the Town of Cave Creek.  These parcels are divided up as seen in the following chart.

table2Based upon the fact that vacant land owners are not allowed to vote in the upcoming election for the property tax, 37 percent of the people affected by the proposed property tax are not allowed to vote in the election!!  That’s taxation without representation.  Wasn’t that what once started a revolution in this country?  Have we become so complacent we’re willing to allow it to happen again?

A private company (Rural/Metro) is offering a service to people.  Some people choose to accept the service and some don’t.  Why did this concern the town staff and council?  What right did any of them have to get involved in a private business relationship?

In a January 31, 2011 town council meeting we heard from the Town Manager that we can pay $0 or we can pay $1.3 million and we get the same service.  You don’t need to be a genius to figure that one out.  I know what my decision is going to be on the issue.

According to Chief Kraetz with Rural/Metro, Cave Creek has less than two fires annually in each category of residential, commercial, and vacant land.  Their average cost to fight these fires runs between $14,000 and $25,000 each. According to Deputy Chief Frank Salomon of the Phoenix Fire Department, the average single family house fire costs just over $4,000 to fight. That seems like quite a disparity to me. I’m sure EMS responses, which account for 85 percent of the fire service calls in town, aren’t even a fraction of that cost.

According to town staff, the $1.3 million number comes from what it would cost to contract with Rural/Metro.  Thus the town is now looking at assessing at least $1.3 million dollars in taxes every single year to cover less than $100,000 in actual costs to the taxpayers. That just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me at all.

Stop trying to tell us this is a public health and welfare issue.  Rural/Metro will respond whether you subscribe to their service or not.  If they’re not available, the Phoenix Fire Department will respond from their brand new station just down the road, and at a much lower cost.

By the way, neither my mortgage company nor my insurance company requires me to subscribe to Rural/Metro or any other private fire service.  My mortgage company only requires me to have Property Insurance. You might want to check your own mortgage BEFORE you vote on this matter. The liability assumed if I do not pay the subscription fee to Rural/Metro is that I might be responsible to pay Rural/Metro for the costs of fighting a fire, if they respond. 

table3The argument that we’re simply replacing the Spur Cross Bonds Tax on our tax bill with a property tax of the same amount, and we won’t feel a tax increase, is ridiculous. In the 2010 tax year (2011 Town Fiscal Year), I personally paid $492.35 in taxes towards the Spur Cross Bonds, but in the 2011 tax year (2012 Town Fiscal Year), I’m only paying $55.55.  I’ve already realized savings of almost $450 per year and have no desire to give that money back to anyone in these economic times.  As you can see in the chart, the town has already reduced the amount received from property tax for Fiscal Year 2012 (tax year 2011) and that will go to $0 when Spur Cross is paid off this year.

Make your vote count for your neighbors that own property in Cave Creek and aren’t allowed to voice their opinion at the polls.

VOTE “NO” on Question 1

Scott Dahne has lived in the Cave Creek area since 1994 and only writes editorials when he just can’t take it anymore.  He is a former member of the Town of Cave Creek Audit Committee and one of the authors of the 2009 Cave Creek Citizens for the Future “White Paper.”