$68M was never approved for Scottsdale Desert EDGE
October 16, 2018 by Bob Frost
I keep reading that the proponents of the Proposition 420 say the Scottsdale City Council was going to spend $68 million in Preserve tax to fund the Desert Discovery Center/EDGE.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only was the $68 million never agreed to by council, but the Tourism Development Commission had already recommended visitors’ bed tax revenues be used for half of whatever the project cost turned out to be.
The other comment is that the $68 million should be used for other more important infrastructure needs.
Nope, Preserve tax funds can only be used in the Preserve for land purchases and improvements thereto.
Let’s get to the Preserve tax money.
Each year the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission reviews, modifies and approves the budget and forwards
a recommendation to the City Council. The commissioners identify the projects that are on the approved list and look at needs as they arise — creating a fire break barrier around the Preserve where it abuts roads and streets. e.g. 136th street.
Two years ago, commissioners proposed to the City Council that $30 to $40 million be set aside in some form of endowment with the goal of creating a fund that would pay for the operation and maintenance of the Preserve in perpetuity. The council loved the idea. This use of funds is not permitted under the current ordinance and must go to citizens for a vote.
When putting the budget together we had to anticipate if the council voted to eliminate the food tax as it would effect our bottom line. We had to anticipate if the council voted to pay some of the bonds off early, this would affect our bottom line.
The conclusion I want to share with you is: the City Council never intended, nor is there enough money in the Preserve account to pay $68 million for the DDC without eliminating projects that are already approved and some are under construction.
Furthermore, when the city funded DDC/EDGE project came to the city council, they did not approach approving or denying it. They had questions; “Can we reduce it in size?” or “Can we phase the project?” The list of questions goes on.
They took no action. That precipitated the citizens organizing and developing the Prop. 420.
Prop 420. is unnecessary. It sets up a very bad precedent and has the potential for unanticipated consequences.
Mr. Frost is a resident of Scottsdale