Common sense no longer common

Editor:

As I watch developments unfold, both nationally and locally, I am more convinced than ever that common sense is no longer “common.”

I watch in dismay, as our elected (and appointed) officials continue to spend more than we can afford. If taxpaying families must live within their means to survive, shouldn’t our governments also? We taxpayers cannot afford the luxury of dreams of grandiose schemes and projects, assuming someone else is going to pay for them. Why should governments?

Take our tiny town’s recent history as an example. Two years ago, a 42 percent increase in the town’s sales tax rate was enacted, as an “emergency” decision — thus no vote allowed by the very people forced to pay for it. The purpose(s) were to pay off a $20 million shortfall in the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System; the repayment of a $1 million loan from the water department; the creation of a rainy day fund; and the buildup of a contingency fund. These are being modestly addressed.

Keep in mind, the town’s 15,000 taxpayers are also currently paying off a $52 million water project to allow for a proposed population build out of over 40,000 people. That will never happen in our lifetime with our current tax structure.

Now we hear rumblings of a few council members wanting to add to our small town’s debt burden, with even more multi-million dollar projects.

Common sense would dictate first paying off our current debts, before we take on even more liabilities. Common sense would assume we would keep projects within the size and scope of our town’s ability to pay back. We need to keep in mind, we are only a bit over 15,000, mostly retired and working poor, people. We cannot spend like we have 100,000 taxpayers in Payson, nor can we assume the recent annual $3.5-plus-million annual windfall above just a few years ago will be here forever. Recent history has shown us that. Our new mayor’s “zero based budget” is a good start. But there needs to be a fundamental shift in the attitudes from some of the council members regarding what THEY want, versus what WE can afford. We need the return of common sense.

Paul Frommelt

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(1) comment

Phil Mason

I agree with your basic premise, but it is important to identify the difference between cost and investment. A properly structured investment that will result in new revenues should be looked at positively. The largest budget expense for our community is the PUSD. A zero-based budget process for the education industry would be the best opportunity to reduce taxpayer burden. Remember that hard facts as published by the school finance office show a 10% decrease in students while receiving a 30%+ increase in local revenues - AND they have just decided to seek an Override of their budget revenues. When is too much not enough for our "poor community of 15,000 retirees and low wage workers to handle?

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