Proposition 104, AKA MovePHX, funds a 35-year transit plan by increasing the sales tax for transit from 0.40% to 0.70%, and continuing it beyond its originally scheduled expiration in 2020. The city estimates the tax will bring in around $17b in additional revenue over its lifetime, and with more funding from other sources the city plans to spend something approaching $32b on transit improvements. Among the proposals: more light rail, more frequent bus service and new routes, more bike friendliness, and street & sidewalk improvements.
Let me just say, I would love—LOVE—to be able to get rid of my car. Vehicles are a huge expense, second only to housing in most budgets. Car payments, maintenance, fuel, insurance, repairs, registration—it’s a money pit. I would support a reasonable, realistic plan for public transportation in Phoenix, but I have difficulty believing that this is it. Prop 104 is a cornucopia of spending seasoned with broken promises, questionable utility, and a distinct lack of accountability. Continue reading Phoenix Prop 104: MovePHX Transit Plan & Tax Increase
Proposition 103 amends the City Charter to adjust the pension plan for city employees.
This is only the most recent of several ballot measures attempting to deal with Phoenix’s ballooning pension expenses. My original post on last year’s (failed) Prop 487 included an explanation of the challenges facing Phoenix’s pension system, which I’ll link you to rather than repeating it at length here. Suffice it to say, the pension plan still needs work.
Prop 103 stops far, far short of the serious reform that Prop 487, which I supported, offered. Whereas 487 would have replaced the pension plan with a 401(k)-like plan for new hires, Prop 103 leaves the pension system largely intact with some minor tweaks, which I will characterise as the good, the meh, and the ugly: Continue reading Phoenix Prop 103: Pension Plan Change—The Good, The meh, and the Ugly
Proposition 102 amends the City Charter to allow the city to issue payments via modern methods, such as electronic payments.
Currently, the City Charter permits payments only via warrant (somewhat like a paper check), which requires printing and postage.
As I’ve said before, charters and constitutions should not micro-manage—officials should have the flexibility to choose more efficient payment methods. Allowing electronic payments is estimated to save the city about $250K annually.
Prop 102 removes an antiquated and inflexible limitation on the city’s method of making payments, and should be supported. I plan to vote YES. There may be more opposing votes than might otherwise be expected due to the somewhat off-putting language of the brief ballot description, but I still expect this measure to pass easily.
Proposition 101 would set Phoenix’s expenditure limit to the amount of the Council-adopted budget.
The Arizona Constitution caps the spending of municipal governments unless local voters periodically approve their own limitation. The state-imposed cap uses the fiscal year ending 1980 as a baseline, and is adjusted only for cost-of-living and population growth. Phoenix has previously operated under a local override, and the expected 2016–17 local budget exceeds the state’s limitation by about $928M.
While the state limitation provides some protection against a fiscally out of control municipality, in general it is appropriate for the local taxing and spending authority to remain as close to the local voters’ representatives as possible.
Plenty of opportunity for debate and comment exists within the local budgeting process, and there is no reason not to entrust the City Council with home rule spending authority. I plan to vote YES on Prop 101, and expect it to pass with little opposition.
Proposition 100 would ratify the city’s updated General Plan, which identifies the city plan’s focus.
Arizona law requires the city to maintain a General Plan for land use and to submit it to voters for ratification. The update has been in the works since 2012, and was adopted by the City Council in an 8-1 vote on 4 March 2015. Continue reading Phoenix Prop 100: Ratify the City’s General Plan