Supporters of proposals to hike Scottsdale sales taxes to fund expansion of the city’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and public safety improvements have organized a political action committee.
The group, Protect and Preserve, will campaign for public approval of the measures slated for a May 18 vote.
Three items will be on the ballot.
A .15 percentage point tax hike would be dedicated to helping the city begin purchasing 19,000 acres of open space necessary to complete the planned 36,400-acre preserve.
A .10 percentage point increase would provide revenue for police services, including new equipment and more officers.
Together the measures would mean an additional 25 cents in taxes for every $100 in purchases.
The ballot also will include a $500 million bond issue. It would allow the city to acquire land for the preserve as soon as possible and to pay for it with revenue from the additional .15 percentage point tax.
Preservation advocates and police supporters decided to combine campaign efforts "because these issues are intertwined,’’ said Jim Hill, president of the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association.
If the land Scottsdale wants to preserve is developed, "that’s another 15,000 houses’’ and population growth that would strain already limited police resources, Hill said.
Supporters of the separate tax-increase proposals also are joining forces "so people don’t think these are competing issues. . . . It’s not an either-or decision,’’ he said.
Hill is co-chairing of the campaign committee with Art DeCabooter, president of Scottsdale Community College and chairman of the city’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission.
Committee vice chairs are Carla (her legal name) director of the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust, a nonprofit preservation advocacy group, and Bill Yedowitz, a member of the Scottsdale Fraternal Order of Police.
The group plans to go into full campaign mode after the March 9 mayoral and City Council elections, Carla said.
"We know people’s attention will be focused on the candidates and we don’t want to make things confusing,’’ she said.
More than 25 groups and individuals backing the committee on Wednesday submitted statements of support to the Scottsdale city clerk’s office to be included in city election pamphlets for voters.
Those include the Coalition of Pinnacle Peak, the city’s largest residents group, the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, the Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, Sen. Carolyn Allen, RScottsdale, and Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale.
The Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously last month to put the tax and bond questions on the ballot.
The preserve tax is expected to generate more than $200 million over its 30-year period.
The public safety tax is expected to provide between $5 million and $8 million a year.