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Letters to the editor published in the April 27, 2011, edition of The Explorer.

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Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 3:00 am

Decade-old tax warning comes true

When I was on the Planning and Zoning Commission and a candidate for mayor of Oro Valley 10 years ago, I warned that we were about to adopt a General plan that would lead to higher taxes. Very simply, we planned for higher residential densities than we would achieve.

As a result, I argued that we were developing parks, facilities and utilities for a larger population then would materialize. The result would be maintenance costs that would exceed our revenues. That town council, none of whom are currently in office, argued that we would have enough residential density and resulting population to support retail development and we would realize the associated sales tax revenues we would need to avoid higher taxes.

Well, here we are achieving lower than planned densities and facing higher fees and taxes as predicted.

I suggest the council undertake two courses of action. First, review plans for growth and associated revenues and make appropriate adjustments in current and future budgets. Second, give the citizens an opportunity to vote on proposed fee and tax increases.

Tax and fee increases are difficult to roll back, and these decisions are becoming too important to leave to elected representatives.

Ken Kinared, Oro Valley


Cut spending, don’t suggest new taxes

It is fortunate that property taxes require voter approval.

However, the Oro Valley mayor and council can create or raise some other taxes without those pesky taxpayers’ involvement.

The Town of Oro Valley’s experience with its utility tax has been a sterling example for the taxpayers to ponder prior to even thinking of supporting any increased form of taxation (especially a property tax).

The primary reason for the 2006 utility tax was insufficient recurring general funds to support 18.5 new positions. The 18.5 new positions had been turned down twice in previous budget votes because of lack of funds. Not too worry – utility tax to the rescue!

Another outstanding reason given for creating the utility tax in 2006: “Oro Valley is one of only five other communities that does not currently tax utility services” (from a 2006 slide presentation by then OV Mayor Paul Loomis). Wow! I bet people and business in 2006 thought that was a great incentive for their relocation to Oro Valley as soon as possible.

Don’t worry. We can placate those pesky taxpayers by reducing the rate from 4 percent to 2 percent and adding a two-year sunset clause to eliminate the utility tax in two years. Hooray!

Two years later the expiration date came and went. The utility tax was retained for “more revenue” needs. So much for any promises to taxpayers!

Now in 2012 (a new crisis) we suggest doubling the utility tax to 4 percent. We should trust them to manage new tax revenue?

We should concentrate on cutting spending, not suggesting new taxes.

John Musolf, Oro Valley


The Fair Tax Act sounds fair to this reader

Now that most of us have filed our 2010 tax returns and some of us are anticipating refunds, here's something you may not have considered: the tax laws and the Internal Revenue Service mandate withholding tax on your salary or quarterly estimated tax payments if self-employed or deriving income from other sources.

If you pay in too little, you will be charged a penalty. If you pay in too much, you will receive a refund without interest. Does that seem fair?

Congress is now finally considering a bill (HR25) called the Fair Tax Act. Simply stated it sets up a 23 percent national sales tax on new goods and services while eliminating all other taxes: income tax, capital gains tax, corporate tax and estate tax to mention a few. Additionally, the dreaded IRS would cease to exist in its present form. Each of us would receive a monthly "prebate" to cover the taxes paid up to the current federal poverty level. And, everyone is taxed regardless of immigration status.

To learn more go to www.Fair Tax.org.

This is the kind of change we need. Once you know about the bill, contact your elected representatives and voice your opinion. Keep your whole paycheck. What an interesting concept!

John Wright, SaddleBrooke


Where are our educational dollars going?

I totally agree on the importance of education as Mr. Safier pointed out in last week’s article (“Arizona needs to do better by our kids’ education,” April 20, 2011).

Here are some numbers that Mr. Safier did not include in his article:

From 2001 to 2009, Arizona increased spending in education by 47 percent. It did slide back 4 percent in 2010. During that same time period, Classroom Site Funding fell by 1.7 percent. The high point for CSF was 2008, and from that high water mark CSF fell 3.5 percent. All of us paying taxes need to ask where this money is going because it is not going into the all-important classroom.

This information is available and posted on the State Auditor General’s site: http://www.azauditor.gov/Reports/School_Districts/School_Districts.htm The State Auditor General also made a very troubling comment in her last report, saying, “The declining classroom dollar percentage indicates that many districts are violating statute by using Classroom Site Fund monies to shift other monies away from the classroom.”

In the latest report, CSF is at 55.9 percent dropping from 56.9 percent in 2009. The national average is 60.8 percent. The Oracle School District reports CSF at 49.9 percent.

All taxpayers need to ask where the money is going in education, as it is not going into the classroom. Many believe that the money is there and that it needs to be managed better.  The U.S., for example, is third in the world on spending per pupil, ranges 14th-17th in core study performance, and graduates less than 70 percent. This indicates that spending money is not the sole answer to better education.

Where are the representatives of the Arizona Education Association, school boards and administration members? Continuing to ask for more money and at the same time dropping Classroom Site Funding is not a formula for success. 

Is it time to stop asking for more money and start delivering a quality education? You bet.

Vince Leach, Tucson


Cut spending, don’t suggest new taxes

It is fortunate that property taxes require voter approval.

However, the Oro Valley mayor and council can create or raise some other taxes without those pesky taxpayers’ involvement.

The Town of Oro Valley’s experience with its utility tax has been a sterling example for the taxpayers to ponder prior to even thinking of supporting any increased form of taxation (especially a property tax).

The primary reason for the 2006 utility tax was insufficient recurring general funds to support 18.5 new positions. The 18.5 new positions had been turned down twice in previous budget votes because of lack of funds. Not too worry – utility tax to the rescue!

Another outstanding reason given for creating the utility tax in 2006: “Oro Valley is one of only five other communities that does not currently tax utility services” (from a 2006 slide presentation by then OV Mayor Paul Loomis). Wow! I bet people and business in 2006 thought that was a great incentive for their relocation to Oro Valley as soon as possible.

Don’t worry. We can placate those pesky taxpayers by reducing the rate from 4 percent to 2 percent and adding a two-year sunset clause to eliminate the utility tax in two years. Hooray!

Two years later the expiration date came and went. The utility tax was retained for “more revenue” needs. So much for any promises to taxpayers!

Now in 2012 (a new crisis) we suggest doubling the utility tax to 4 percent. We should trust them to manage new tax revenue?

We should concentrate on cutting spending, not suggesting new taxes.

John Musolf, Oro Valley

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