by Vern Stiffler
Mayor, Town of Payson
A fundamental shift in how local governments are financed is being proposed at the Arizona Legislature. We need help to let legislative leaders know that this is not good for Payson.
The people of Arizona, by approving a series of ballot propositions over the past 50 years, have reserved a portion of state-collected incomes, sales and vehicle license taxes for the use of cities and towns. These revenues are an essential part of the operating revenues for local governments.
Some state legislators are now looking to change the formula by which cities and towns receive state-shared revenues. Other state legislators are proposing to abolish or drastically reduce vehicle license taxes. Their intent is to permanently reduce the amount of funding allocated from state revenues to local governments.
The change in the state-shared revenue formula would cut $20 million per year from local budgets. If vehicle license taxes were abolished, cities, towns and countries would loose $107 million per year. At the same time, these legislators are proposing a $45 million annual tax cut. I believe it is wrong to finance state tax rebates on the back of local governments.
A reduction in state shared revenues merely shifts the burden of imposing taxes from state to local governments. The legislators can declare they have reduced taxes, but when the need for services remains the same, your town council will be forced to eliminate important services.
If these changes are enacted, our town stands to lose about $65,000 per year in state-shared revenues and $490,000 per year in state-shared vehicle license taxes. Reductions like these would force the lay-off of public safety personnel. It would completely wipe out our street improvement program.
I am working with community leaders around the state to explain how important this is. And, we have launched a statewide outreach campaign saying "It Matters!" because these revenues are critical to providing adequate local government services.
Legislators who represent Payson are on our side in this fight.
It is the legislative leaders and those proposing these measurements who need to hear from us that it is not right to erode state support for our local governments.
You can join me in making your feelings known to them by calling Senate President Brenda Burns and House Speaker Jeff Groscost at 1-800-352-8404.