Phoenix has many needs and responsibilities that must be addressed every year and in every budget. Paying pension obligations, keeping the lights on, and ensuring city safety are long term projects that must be routinely dealt with. And while the problem is routine, the solutions must not be. As your future city councilman, it will be my responsibility to come at these problems with a new vision, determination, and a strategic plan to tackle this issue.
Pension obligations, one of our most pressing long term issues, draws all kinds of routine solutions from our incumbent Councilman. Vote no on every bill, push the obligation further down the line, pay less now but pay more in the future: none of these shows leadership for District 6. All of them represent an unwillingness to make real change, and none of them meet the broad needs of the city.
Allowing the pensions of public employees to stack up and hurt our City’s future is irresponsible, but so is refusing to invest in our safety and well-being to help pay those debts. Saying no to every budget, especially those that equip our first responders with the tools they need to protect, is a sad, lazy routine at its worst. District 6 forfeits its leverage, its seat at the table, and its chance to lead when its answer to the pension crisis has always been “no.”
I believe that there are real solutions that we can say yes to as a community to actually solve this problem. Our budget has holes because we give huge tax breaks to developers who don’t share our values of equity and cost-effective housing. The recent Roosevelt Row development received a $9 million tax incentive from the City, but won’t be affordable to many working families. These tax incentives can last for dozens of years, depriving the City of needed revenue and limiting our ability to invest in our children’s future. I believe that if we take a sharper, more critical eye to whom we are willing to let skate on their taxes, our budget wounds will begin to heal.
One other often under discussed opportunity the City of Phoenix has to broaden the revenue base is to sell and develop around $150 million worth of unneeded land that we own. Besides the one time influx of revenue into the city from the sales, the long term tax revenue and responsible, sustainable development opportunities are a gold mine. This needs to be a priority for District 6.
The City’s budget and its pension obligations are serious concerns to me. As your next City Councilman, I promise that I am committed to the fight for responsible management of our unfunded pension liabilities. I want to propose real, strategic solutions, not fill the room with empty rhetoric and loud noises. I am ready to Say Yes to District 6 and the solutions and leadership we have lacked for far too long.