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07/25/14

Subject: July 2014 What are the FACTS? Shouldn't numbers be a singular answer and not interpreted to mean whatever is politically preferred? YOU DECIDE.

Good afternoon, COGS E-Newsletter Reader: COGS has received very interesting information about your city revenues and expenses that you will want to review. The current mayor has been quoted multiple times saying that the Entertainment District (1) is the envy of other cities in the valley (2) is a "success" story (3) does generate revenue for the city [on the assumption that the party-goers occupy hotel rooms and eat in our restaurants elsewhere in the city] (4) does not cost the taxpayer in additional public safety/police and public area maintenance (5) has not resulted in a single Noise Ordinance violation---Yes, multiple recorded neighborhood residential complaints, but no chargeable violations have been issued. COGS has been advised that Mayor Lane and Councilman Robbins requested a comparative evaluation by the current City Treasurer, Jeffrey Nichols, of the numbers former City Treasurer David Smith reported to the city council in August 2011.

Perhaps not all of the 2014 city council candidates are providing the public with accurate revenue and incremental expenses. Their public forum descriptions of the Entertainment District's value to the city range from "destroying our tourism image and costing taxpayers" to "a successful tourism/business draw that provides revenue to pay for your quality of life amenities". Please take your time to read the two city treasurers' responses. AS ALWAYS, YOU as the taxpayer and resident decide---- Is this expanding Entertainment District a city asset or not?

That study was to compare the revenues ($400,000 per Mr. Smith) and incremental expenses ($1,200,000 per Mr. Smith) of the Entertainment District. The current City Treasurer responses are in italics and underlined. The former City Treasurer response to that analysis is in upright text and not underlined.

1. " Maybe the 2011 study should have included the full 1.65% sales tax rather than just the general fund unrestricted sales tax receipts (1.10%). I purposely omitted the 0.55% of sales tax receipts that are restricted to preserve land purchases or transportation programs. While these are valuable sales tax receipts, they are not available to offset the cost of "maintaining" the district.

2. Maybe the 2011 study should have included sales tax receipts from "spin off" business from the bars. I could never find evidence there was any "spin off" business attributed to the patrons of the Class 6 License Bars; generally, the patrons of the entertainment district are not like other tourists who develop taxable sales for hotel room nights, fine dining or shopping at Fashion Square. No evidence of "spin off" business was offered in the current City Treasurer's memo.

3. Maybe the 2011 study should have included sales tax receipts from other businesses that hold Liquor Licensees (for example, restaurants, food stores, etc.) There are numerous examples throughout the city of businesses which hold incidental liquor licenses, but none of them require dedicated, incremental public safety services. (It is also irrelevant and misleading to report the $5.2 million of tax receipts of all businesses in the Entertainment District. These other businesses are not the reason we have to have incremental maintenance expenses!)

4. Maybe the 2011 study had too high an expense estimate for the Bike and Mounted Units dedicated to the Entertainment District. The City Treasurer was given an estimate by the Police Department that these units cost $2.3 million a year, but spend only 30%-40% of their time in the Entertainment District, accounting for an incremental cost of $689,000 to $919,000.

My incremental cost estimate of $1,200,000 a year (given to me by the Chief of Police in 2011) would suggest 50% of the bike and mounted unit's time is spent in the Entertainment District. I cannot account for the department's different estimate today.

What is known, however, is my 2011 estimate was for incremental police costs only. It is worth noting, after the original 2011 report, the City authorized an increase of 13 additional full-time positions for Fire Station 602 on Indian School, the first responder station assigned to deal with weekend demands in the Entertainment District. The on-ongoing annual cost of that manpower increase will be $814,000 (Council Regular Agenda September 10, 2013, Item #21.)

[Final comment from former City Treasurer, David Smith.] If there is any fault in the 2011 report it is that the comparison was between total revenue and incremental expense. A fairer comparison would have either looked at both numbers incrementally (which would have developed a much lower revenue estimate) or looked at both numbers in total (which would have identified a much high expense estimate.)"

COGS COMMENT: What is your conclusion ? Send your thoughts to sonniek@cogsaz.net which we will compile anonymously. Thank you.

General Plan Update for you from City of Scottsdale Long Range Planning: "The General Plan Task Force has completed a second draft of the General Plan. Located at http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/generalplan/generalplan2035/SGP2035TFDrafts on the city's website, the document is electronically available for review and commentary. All comments will be forwarded to the Task Force, Planning Commission, and ultimately the City Council. If you have any questions about the planning process or the document review and comments, please let me know and I will do my best to address them! Thanks Again, Ross Cromarty Project Coordination Liaison/ General Plan Co-Project Manager Long Range Planning Services Planning and Development Services Department City of Scottsdale"

For the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) Board of Directors, Sonnie Kirtley Chair e-mail: sonniek@cogsaz.net

 

 

 

 

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