My son and I talk about a lot of things — big things like the collapse of the Euro and the threat of terrorism. And although he may sit on the Left Wing and I might sit on the Right, we pretty much figured out that those wings are attached to an American Eagle and both wings have to flap in order to fly.
So this whole San Tan Valley Incorporation thing came up recently. We shared our thoughts and even though we may take different roads to get there, our conclusions were the same. Incorporation of this giant, populated area must happen and happen now.
There are scary tax and budget figures being floated around — and most of them come along with my water bill. I don’t run a water company, so I don’t have all of those customers at my beck and call to write to. That is why I wrote to you at the East Valley Tribune.
I moved here about five years ago from Park Ridge, Ill., which – at last count – had about 43,000 souls. Our city had a beautiful library and a vibrant business hub (two, actually, South Park and Downtown). We had parks and a city hall and good folks who looked out for us. (And those who didn’t look out for us got the boot come election time.)
I do not believe this scary budget figure of $5,000 per household tax increase. I just don’t. And I don’t appreciate fear-mongering and veiled threats. No one in their right mind would engineer a ghost town, which is what San Tan Valley would become with a crippling tax burden like that. I have Midwestern common sense, and my BS meter is ringing loud and clear on this one. I also find the $250 number tough to swallow. Unless the city runs really, really, really lean. My guess is that the real number is a little higher than the lowball, and a heck of a lot lower than the crazy number.
So what is a traditionalist like myself talking about supporting anything that raises taxes?
When we came out here, we bought a home in Johnson Ranch to be near our grown “kids.” And we bought “pre-bubble.” When the real estate bubble burst last year, we found ourselves in the same situation as millions of Americans — in a home that is not worth the mortgage. That stings. But the beauty of this land and the friendliness of the people have entered my heart and I will stay. No matter what.
Coming from a Chicago suburb, I’m no stranger to corruption in government, and I have an almost visceral hatred of king-makers in smoke-filled rooms deciding what’s best for the “little guy.” What we have here is classic movie stuff. Face it, we live in Potterville (remember “It’s a Wonderful Life”?). Concentrated power results in people thinking they are magnanimous, and the cadre of thugs that usually surround people of power try to shut differing opinions up. I just don’t go for that. Never have, never will.
There are estimates of about 80,000 of us out here in the orphaned area between Florence and Queen Creek — 80,000! That’s twice the size of my former hometown of Park Ridge! But let’s just talk Arizona. Apache Junction only has 31,046 people; Bullhead, 40,225; Casa Grande, 34,554; Flagstaff (imagine Flagstaff being unincorporated for heaven’s sake) 58,213; Prescott, 41,528 ... and on and on and on. Our population in San Tan Valley has increased over 82.1 percent since 2000.
Why do I support incorporation? Because some things are just Capital Letter concepts. Concepts like Fairness. Representation. Local Control. The Power of Democracy. And Capital Letter things override the posturing and the scare tactics and the nonsense of power-grabbing.
No matter how some people try to bury their heads in the sand (and there is plenty of desert land to do that in out here), we are growing. Growth can happen in a controlled way or it can happen in a haphazard way. No offense to anyone, but I don’t want to be annexed to our neighbors to the north or south.
I firmly believe that this area can be self-sustaining. Sure, growth brings a few growing pains... but the end result is a place we can envision together — from the inside — as a community. We can attract businesses to commit to our area if we incorporate. We can keep young, professional brainpower out here instead of losing them to jobs 25 miles away. And we can be part of actually founding a city!
My personal opinion is that if we don’t sign the petition to get incorporation on the November ballot, we will have lost an opportunity to decide the fate of this giant area we call home.
My son and I signed. Our families can stand united on this. We want to move forward on this, and get to the business of taking our place at the “Grown-ups Table” — as a real city of 80,000.
Our action or inaction will affect not only ourselves, but the up-and-coming generations who will either sing our praises for our courage to become independent... or not.
Lynn Hurley, San Tan Valley
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