Property tax revolt begins journey to 2008 ballot

Arizona Capitol Times
Friday, December 7, 2007
Luige del Puerto

A group seeking changes in Arizona’s tax system through a ballot initiative has printed 15,000 copies each of its two petitions and distributed most of them to its coordinators, according to initiative organizer Marc Goldstone.

Volunteers of the Arizona Tax Revolt have begun collecting signatures in their neighborhoods, but few are stationed in front of stores because of the heat, Goldstone said.

“We are anticipating a resurgence in interest of property taxpayers in the next couple of weeks as they begin receiving their 2007 tax bills with more than double digit tax increases,” he said. v One of the initiatives rolls back property values to 2003 levels; the other requires that taxing entities return to 2005 levy levels. Their goal is to reduce property taxes and limit future increases, the group explains on its Web site,

To get on the ballot, the group must turn in 230,047 valid signatures of registered voters by July 3, 2008. That means organizers will need to collect 5,500 valid signatures each week through June — a daunting task, especially given that to survive the expected 25 percent disqualification rate, approximately 1,000 signatures per day would be needed.

The group has re-filed the two ballot initiatives a couple of times to make sure the language is right, according to Goldstone. The most recent versions were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on Aug. 8.

Rick Southey, chief of the Bullhead City Fire Department, said in a letter to Arizona Capitol Times that voters deserve a better explanation of Arizona Tax Revolt’s tax initiatives than what they’re are getting from Goldstone.

“Since these initiatives have such a tremendous effect on our lives, they should not be understood by only a few or a special interest group,” Southey wrote.

“There should be nothing mysterious or hard to understand when (it) comes to educating our children or protecting our lives and property. They should be easy to understand and make sense to every voter of this state,” he said.

Southey said Goldstone has acknowledged that the two proposed propositions “include complex, arcane formulas.”

Goldstone said Southey heads the state’s association of fire chiefs, which has a “vested interest in growing the budgets of the fire departments.”

“Mr. Southey’s concern with the valuation measure’s computations is a smoke screen,” he said. “It is the levy rollback measure which Mr. Southey and the other overtaxing entities are afraid of. That measure will roll back their budgets to one of two amounts determined by their performance prior to the November 2008 election. Their tax levy increases now will determine their levy limit starting in 2009.

“I have been asked why a levy rollback was necessary. These taxing entities have been enjoying increases in valuations, which, regardless of slightly lower tax rates, have resulted in levy increases from all the new construction and improvements to existing properties, which are valued at hugely inflated values. In other words, government taxes us on unrealized gains based on valuations that reflect real estate price inflation that in some areas is 20 percent or more each per year,” he said via e-mail.

Legislative Report Editor Barry Gartell contributed to this article.