Don’t ignore voters’ Preserve wishes

Arizona Republic, Scottsdale Republic: Community News

April 16, 2014, page 9, by David N. Smith


Last month, I had the pleasure of joining many of fellow citizens for a dedication of the Jane Rau Interpretative Trail at the Brown’s Ranch Trailhead.


Only ten days later, a most curious thing happened in the Kiva at City Hall.In a split decision, the Scottsdale City Council voted to agendize for discussion at a future meeting “…a possible moratorium on future land acquisitions…” for the preserve until some questions are answered.


It all began with the argument we needed to prepare for the future liabilities of maintenance and reinvestment (which, by the way, dismissed any thought that citizens, through the volunteer McDowell Sonoran Conversancy, might shoulder this obligation in the future, as they have in the past.) Others “piled on” with additional arguments for why we should stop purchasing land for preservation. “The next pieces will be too expensive!” “The State has no more matching money!” “We need to better assess our bonding capacity!” One Councilmember summed up the majority attitude with a sneak preview of their future discussion, “It makes sense for us to stop!”

For councilmembers who claim to “listen to the citizens” they seemed surprisingly tone-deaf to the most articulate, precise and compelling set of directives ever given by Scottsdale voters. To even consider dealing with a future liability by stopping all preserve-land purchases and squirreling the tax revenues away in an endowment fund or using it for some other project is wholly at odds with the wishes of citizens – if not blatantly illegal. The 2004 Preserve ballot measure (which passed 55 percent to 45 percent) provided, unambiguously, that the preserve sales-tax revenues were “to be used solely for the general purpose of acquiring land…and constructing improvements thereto, for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve”


David Smith, a former Scottsdale city treasurer, is a candidate for City Council.