good work jeff

Bond-program opponent rebuts 'no new taxes' claim

Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor The Arizona Republic Feb. 27, 2006 12:00 AM

PHOENIX - Jeff Greenspan is on a mission to spread the word about how the city's $878.5 million bond program will affect property-tax bills, even if the tax rate itself isn't changing.

Voters will consider seven bond propositions individually March 14 that, if approved, would allow the city to sell bonds to investors to raise money for hundreds of capital projects citywide.

Greenspan, 34, is the frontman for Stop Taxing Our Property, or STOP, a political committee formed to campaign against the bond program.

He works as a senior manager for an international technical services consultant, and he doesn't believe bond proponents are being completely honest with voters, especially when they slap the phrase "with no new taxes" on their campaign signs.

"I believe that is deliberate misrepresentation, because at the end of the day the check you write to pay your property taxes will be on average 23 percent higher," he said.

That increase comes because the housing market boom drove up property values, and those values are used by the by the Maricopa County Assessors Office to determine property taxes.

City officials are able to issue the bonds without raising their property-tax rate because they're banking on applying that same rate to higher property values.

But Greenspan pushes his message a little further.

He wants voters to know that if the bond projects fail, the increased revenues they are anticipating can be used to pay off previous bond debt or help lower the property-tax rate.

Selling bonds is how most Valley cities borrow money for city improvements. There are hundreds of projects included in the 2006 bond program, including police and fire stations, parks, senior centers, an Arizona State University campus in downtown Phoenix, and a west-side Boys and Girls Club.

He believes the 2006 bond program is poorly designed, especially because it includes non-essential projects.

How would the Ivy League graduate with a degree in economics do it?

"I would start by being fiscally responsible and put off projects until I could pay for them . . . and pay for future projects using a pay-as-you-go," Greenspan said.

By having all the money in hand before embarking on a project, taxpayers could save hundreds of millions of dollars on interest, he said.

But bond proponents say that isn't a realistic approach, especially since bonds are much like taking out a mortgage. If people waited until they saved up enough money to buy a house, they'd likely never get there.

The STOP committee has already tapped out its $3,000 budget, and Greenspan said he is dipping into his own pocket.

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