Yavapai County is asking too much with its proposed flood district tax increase.
The county is looking to raise its rate by a whopping 24.44 percent. The county reasons that rates had dipped in prior budgets and that the county is running on a deficit. Raising the tax to cover a deficit is one thing, but to think that shifting numbers around to give a tax that is “only” 18 percent on bills is still a big pill to swallow.
To think that a double-digit tax increase is acceptable assumes taxpayers have disposable income to burn, at a time when private sector job salaries remain flat. Though there may be improvements that need to be made, there is no reason to think that a lower amount could be proposed while putting off any unnecessary improvements. After all, we’ve made it the past several years without county-managed land overflowing onto private property or the destruction of infrastructure on a scale that led to long outages of water or power.
One of the reasons the board gives is wash out from the Goodwin Fire. It may be that the Prescott area needs more than we on the lowly east side of Mingus are aware of, but at the same time, we cannot handle yet another tax that only benefits Prescott, especially one contingent on disastrous outcomes. If our raised rate is simply thrown over the mountain, once again we will be faced with paying for benefits someone else receives.
And unlike Yavapai College’s spending, Verde Valley residents cannot sign up for the benefits of Prescott flood control and simply be faced with a longer commute to get to them.
Governments also seem oblivious to how compounding raising taxes is. Sure, it may be less than $10 on the assessed value of your home, but that’s in addition to any fire bonds, college rate increases, city taxes, state taxes and school overrides voters will be faced with and residents will simply have to deal with once in place. It doesn’t take too many Hamiltons to get to Franklin.
With this in mind, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors should take a more conservative approach to its taxing and only raise the amount needed, not a penny more, in order to keep the tax rate truly flat.
We’ve seen across the area what happens when a flash flood strikes, and we need to be prepared, it’s simply that preparedness doesn’t cost that much. Even in our driest times, there are always reminders of this danger on side-street shoulders — those signs that show when you shouldn’t cross that dip. It’s not that the Verde Valley doesn’t have issues with flooding, but it seems again we get a pittance of what’s requested.
It hardly seems the $30,000 allocated to Jerome projects is worth a 24.44 percent tax increase. Nor do mandatory repairs to Verde Villages Lake. These essential projects should be able to be maintained with normal levels of funding, since they are why the tax district exists at all.
Fear of a worst-case scenario is not justification for such a dramatic increase, even in what the council considers a “good year” to raise taxes. We must hold our elected representatives accountable and call them out when they become Chicken Little.
It’s within the realm of possibility that the sky could fall. It’s also possible that a flood of biblical proportions will hit our valley. It’s just about as likely that I — a non-gambler — will hit the lottery, but I’m not counting on it.