With the election season upon us, and with various candidates expressing various degrees of concern about how public money was being spent, I thought it a good idea to get some facts.
Last week I visited the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and secured the actual expenditures, per capita, for the past nine years for the five towns next larger than Payson, and the five towns next smaller than Payson. The results are:
Act. Cost Act. Cost
per Capita per Capita Percent
Kingman 1,050 1,667 58.8
Prescott Valley 304 1,243 308.9
Douglas 684 1,173 71.5
Paradise Valley 670 952 42.1
Florence 374 862 130.5
Payson 631 1,409 123.3
Winslow 866 1,718 98.4
Surprise 656 2,317 253.2
Goodyear 624 2,220 255.8
Eloy 481 874 81.7
Sedona 387 1,814 368.7
I then went to the library and from the statistical abstract of the U.S. secured some rates of inflation during that same period.
The Consumer Price Index -- the U.S. government measurement representing everything we buy -- increased 41.3 percent.
These figures say to me that with Town of Payson spending increasing from $631 per person to $1,409 per person or 123.3 percent in nine years, inflation was not the basic cause. Inflation went up only 41.3 percent, so the town's increase in spending per person was nearly three times the rate of inflation.
You will probably want to compare your own increase in income over this same period of time to see if it has increased 123.3 percent. For example, if your income in 1989 was $20,000 you would have had to earn roughly $45,000 in 1998 to keep up with the Town of Payson's increase in spending per person.
If you feel that the rate of spending should be curtailed, you will want to question the candidates at every opportunity as to their personal plans to reduce the current rate of spending. When you do question them, it is wise to make them be specific, and look them in the eye.
We have had candidates in the past who have promised to spend public money very carefully, and then when elected have spent it generously.
This is no small matter. If town officials had held increased spending to the rate of inflation, as Paradise Valley officials virtually did, the citizens of Payson would have $5.5 million each year to spend as they see fit, rather than have it spent by town officials.
If anyone would like to discuss the background figures, or the logic used, call me at 474-6181.