Gilbert, Arizona Tax Increase Referendum (May 2010)

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A Gilbert tax increase referendum, proposition 406, was on the May 18 ballot in Maricopa County for voters in the town of Gilbert.

This measure was originally scheduled for the November 2009 election, but was pushed back to a later date.

This measure was defeated

  • YES 15,750 (43.58%)
  • NO 20,392 (56.42%) Defeatedd[1]

The measure had called for moving three tax increases to the ballot for a city-wide vote. The tax increases were previously approved by the Gilbert Town Council in June 2009. The council adopted the tax increases in an attempt to close the city's $15-million budget deficit.[2] The new taxes are scheduled to go into effect September 1, 2009.[3]

The three tax increases included:

  • An increase in the city's sales tax from 1.5% to 1.75%. This tax increase, according to the resolution approved by the town council, would be imposed for 30 months.
  • An extension of a 1.5% rental tax to all residential rental properties. Currently, people who own just one rental unit are exempted from the tax.
  • The creation of a one percent (1%) use tax on items purchased outside Gilbert but used in town.[4]

The sales tax increase will be the only tax voted on in the May election.

New effort

There was a new effort to get this sales tax voted on in a special May election. The city council was trying again to get this measure passed citing budget shortfalls and funding needs as their main goal. They also stated that they needed a special election in May because November was too far to wait for the added income. Opponents cited inefficient practices of the council as the main reason to oppose the tax and not the inability of the citizens to absorb the quarter cent increase. They also stated that a May election would have a low voter turnout and thus a not fair assessment of the citizens.[5]

At a town meeting the 9th of February, local residents who wanted to speak out about this tax vote were not allowed to by the city council. The council stated that their reason was because it was not legal to use a public forum such as a town meeting to discuss an upcoming vote by trying to convince others of one side or the other. But citizens protested that their first amendment rights were being violated and that nothing in the city statute states that residents cannot speak about upcoming elections. City officials said they just did not want the meeting to becoming a campaigning session and will discuss how to handle the issue later.[6]

A compromise reached by both sides of the argument, agreed to set aside 15 minutes at every meeting in order to discuss the tax issue. Citizens will be able to talk about what they think of the issues, the time limit is so that long debates and arguments cannot occur. It is hoped that this set aside time will allow citizens their voice and let others here what they think on the current local issue.[7]

Support

Supports of this measure include city council and chamber of commerce members, along with the police and fire unions. Due to the tax increase helping to fund public safety, these two groups think it is important to the cities safety as a whole.[8]

Opposition

Opponents include the city mayor, council members, members of the small business alliance and former council members. Opponents note that adding a sales tax will put a further burden on businesses when money is already tight when other options to cover the deficit are available to the city.[8]

Signatures

Referendum supporters were required to collect a minimum of 1,749 signatures for each of the three measures by July 31, 2009. On July 30, 2009 supporters submitted a total of 2,513 signatures on the sales tax petition, 2,462 on the use tax petition and 2,378 on the rental tax petition.[3]

See also

References