By Terrance Thornton Nov 29th, 2017
Scottsdale Councilman David Smith says he has unfinished business on the local dais and has formally announced his bid for re-election in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, general election.
“I have lived in Scottsdale for many years and I care very much about the way the city develops in the future and that it continues to be an attractive place to live as well as visit,” he said in a Nov. 29 phone interview. “I, like many who voted for me, have both a financial and emotional investment in the city and I am trying to protect that emotional investment.”
Councilman Smith is embarking upon his first re-election campaign effort.
“How I vote on council resonates with a lot of people who have a similar large emotional investment in the city and care how it develops,” he said. “I can be an effective voice for them.”
Councilman Smith boasts more than 40 years of senior financial management experience including serving as Scottsdale’s city treasurer and chief financial officer from October 2009 until he retired in July 2013.
Councilman Smith says more work needs to be done to ensure the city of Scottsdale is standing on sustainable financial ground today and for years to come.
“I promised the citizens I will diligently analyze, review and asses the issues that come before the council,” he said of a 2014 campaign promise. “I am not concerned so much about the new people moving in — I wasn’t elected by them — I am looking to protect the interest of livability for those already here.”
Furthermore, Councilman Smith says his mission is to put Scottsdale on a path to fiscal sustainability.
“We are investing in the city at a rate that is causing our assets to be depreciating,” he said pointing out he believes the city is conducting orderly liquidation of the municipality’s assets due to a lack of current and future investment in faltering infrastructure.
“We are living on the investments of the past, but we are not investing in the future. That can go unnoticed for many years, but suddenly you wake up one day and you start looking at a rundown city.”
From left are Kathy Littlefield, Linda Milhaven and David Smith being sworn-in by City Clerk Carolyn Jagger in 2015.
Prior to his employment with the city of Scottsdale, Councilman Smith was the chief financial officer for Amtrak from 2004 to 2007 and served as the CFO for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest electric utility, from 1995 to 2003, according to his biography at the city’s website.
Councilman Smith also served as vice president of finance at LTV Corp., which is a diversified company with interests in steel, aircraft component manufacturing and energy and defense products, the biography reads.
Councilman Smith contends the city is headed for tough financial times if infrastructure investment continues to be ignored.
“My mission begins with convincing my colleagues that we are in the processes of orderly liquidations,” he said. “We have an obligation to maintain the city.”
Beyond the maintaining of depreciable public assets, Councilman Smith says he is on a mission to abolish a local sales tax he deems regressive and a burden to the community’s most vulnerable population — the working poor and elderly.
Scottsdale City Council in January 2017 voted 5-2 to take 1.1 percent of the 1.65 percent retail sales tax assessed on all grocery sales within city limits — a total of about 7.8 million this fiscal year — and funnel those dollars into the capital improvements budget forecast.
Councilman Smith says that’s not enough and is actively working to do away wit the “regressive tax” as soon as he can get the votes on the local dais.
But Councilman Smith also points out infrastructure investment requires dollars and cents and the local sales tax rate appears primed for re-evaluation, he says.
“No other city in Arizona has that low of sales tax rate,” he said of the 1.3 percent sales tax rate, which is aside from the .3 percent allocated to the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy by way of voter approval.
“I am a fiscally responsible person that says I am not going to kid myself that we can provide the highest level of service with the lowest rate of sales tax.”