One of the hardest things for me to discern as a councilmember is what spending is necessary and what spending is being pushed for political purposes. I received the following propaganda in the mail this week and felt the need to weigh in on the issue.
I find it troubling anytime someone tries to use scare tactics to try to push their agenda. For instance, in this “newspaper” there is a house on fire with the title, “Question 2 Critical To Support Mesa Public Safety”. The interpretation I get from this is that if you don’t vote for Mesa’s Question 2 there is a chance nobody will come when you dial 911.
The first issue that needs to be addressed is taxes in general. Our city’s sales tax is 1.75% of all sales in Mesa. The argument that is made time and time again is that as our city grows we need to increase taxes for public safety. To anyone that understands percentages, this comment doesn’t make sense. If our city is growing and sales tax is 1.75% of all of the new growth then there should never be a need to increase sales tax as a percentage. Anytime a governing body says they want to increase taxes as a percentage it means they are doing less with more money.
There are a few questions we should ask ourselves to determine if we actually need more firefighters.
- Are fires increasing or decreasing?
- Are the number of full-time firefighters increasing or decreasing relative to the number of fires?
The first chart here shows the number of fires and full-time firefighters where the dotted line represents hiring 45 new firefighters, as being proposed by Mesa Question 2. You can see that the number of fires is decreasing drastically while the number of firefighters is doing the opposite.
To make this chart more interpretable we should look at the ratio of actual fires to the number of full-time firefighters. Essentially what this data tells you is that 10 years ago for every firefighter we had 3.5 fires. We now currently sit at 2.75 fires for every firefighter.
Quid Pro Quo
I also want to take a minute to point out the money behind this political action committee. I would highly encourage people to take the time to Google “City of Mesa” along with the names of the corporations who are funding this campaign. There are multiple corporations who have made millions of dollars off of these increased taxes and bonds leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill, which is growing increasingly more unsustainable. The campaign finance reports can be found here http://apps.mesaaz.gov/clerkcampaignfinancereports/doclist?Yes%20for%20Mesa%20Public%20Safety