You have to get to page 12 of the 16 pages in the County Voters Pamphlet to find my sole letter in opposition to the Jail District Tax Proposition. All the Yes recommendations are from people associated or in county government or large property holders or property taxpayers and none refute the following:
People were not confused last year when the Jail District proposal was voted down. The county spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince the electorate to approve the Jail District and it failed despite no organized opposition.
The Jail District would be a windfall to the county administration and supervisors of nearly $4 million per year to start, escalating with inflation over 20 years. Yes, the money must be used for jail purposes, but it will free up current county-supported jail expenses so that other parts of the county budget can get the benefit of such funds. Hence the county attorney’s lamentations about budget constraints in the newspaper and support for the Jail District. The county will be authorized to collect this sales tax for 20 years before the voters have another chance to vote on it.
The Jail District proposal equates to a 34 percent increase in Navajo County property taxes. Yes, it is a sales tax increase of a third of one cent ($0.0033), but Navajo County’s sales tax base is $1.3 billion dollars. Sales taxes are regressive taxes affecting the lower income earners more than the wealthy.
Not to mention that our state senator wants to add an additional one cent statewide sales tax for education this year. If both pass, this will amount to a 16.5 percent increase in Navajo County sales taxes starting in 2020. A recent Tax Foundation 50-state survey reported that Arizona collected $936.00 dollars per resident in sales taxes last year, ranking Arizona 24th in the nation (ranking lower is worse from the taxpayers view point). If both pass we would rank 13th at $1,090.04 per resident per year. Five states do not have a sales tax.
There is a solution even if the Jail District is not approved. Rather than give carte blanche to a new major source of income to the county, the county would be forced to continue to control expenses, educate the public and seek approval of property tax increases in excess of two percent plus new construction as the current property tax law provides. This tax produces revenues giving them full discretion without voter oversight. NPC has raised it’s taxes each of the last several years by the maximum amount allowed without needing to seek voter approval. The county could have been doing this as well. The emergency was at least partially self-inflicted. The supervisors chose not to raise taxes and risk their elected positions.
Vote NO in the Special Election on August 27th to keep the citizens of Navajo County in control of the taxes they pay, not the supervisors and county administrators.
Maybe this time we will find out what part of “NO” they do not understand.
Thomas Porcharsky is a former mayor of Snowflake.