Friday, May 10, 2013

Public Policy Advisory Council Update

City Hall
The Public Policy Advisory Council did not meet this month due to scheduling challenges, but there was a great deal going on at the State Capitol and at City Hall.

The great ice cream truck controversy was settled at long last as the Mayor’s proposal to lift Scottsdale’s ban on ice cream trucks in Scottsdale passed through the City Council after vigorous debate before a packed City Council chambers.

In the 1970’s ice cream trucks were banned in Scottsdale for reasons that never were made clear. There were stories of safety issues, worries about using ice cream trucks as a cover for selling illegal drugs to children and a clear lack of regulation. The Mayor was contacted by a young constituent and entrepreneur who was eager to sell ice cream from a truck which he had purchased with a loan from his father, only to discover that he could sell almost anywhere but his home town.

The Mayor met with the young man, Leo, and set about to change the ordinance in Scottsdale so that Leo and others could sell ice cream in Scottsdale. Public meetings were held where concerned citizens expressed displeasure at the idea for a host of reasons – some perfectly logical, some verging on the absurd. The final ordinance, which passed through the City Council after seemingly hours of testimony on a 5-2 vote (Councilmen Littlefield and Phillips dissenting), allows ice cream vendors in non-gated residential neighborhoods, with perhaps the tightest regulation in the City on any industry.

On April 30, The City Council was asked by the Super Bowl Host Committee for a commitment of just under $700,000 as the city’s share of the Super Bowl for the 2015 game. The Super Bowl is an economic boon of unprecedented proportions and Scottsdale has proven in such major events to be the epicenter of activity for the entire week leading up to the game, pouring millions into Scottsdale businesses. The city tax revenues get a welcome boost from sales, restaurant and occupancy tax collections, and the city receives the added benefit of hundreds of hours of television time related to the game. Held the same weekend as the Waste Management Phoenix Open and just before Barrett-Jackson, the valley and Scottsdale, in particular receive tremendous attention, making the game an economic development attraction like no other.

Rick Kidder testified before the Council on the economic importance of the city’s investment and the possibilities within the activities of the Oasis project for securing the attention of decision-makers who will jam our airport and fill our hotels. Scottsdale is the only city that is being treated as a sponsor rather than a contributor, and the terms of their contract guarantee a return on the city’s investment and the right to seek redress in the unlikely event that the city not recoup that investment.

The State Capitol
The State legislature is in something of a “hurry up and wait” mode at this time. The stumbling blocks are issues with direct impact on the state budget, the most important of which is the Governor’s proposal to accept the federal funding that would increase Medicaid (low income, AHCCCS) eligibility to 133% of the federal poverty income designation.

Many legislators were afraid of instituting the increase from 100% of the federal poverty standards to 133% and the coverage of childless adults who are not now covered out of fear that the federal government would provide the funding for a year and then push it all back to the states as they look at the federal deficit numbers. The Governor’s proposal does contain a trigger that should federal dollars be lowered beyond a level of 90% of the available funding that the state could pull back and reinstate the previous levels of eligibility. The state would save millions by adopting the federal standards for eligibility since the state currently must fund much of its own program for low income care.

Despite that “poison pill” many legislators disagree on philosophical grounds of adding to the federal deficit by accepting the money and the strings attached. This is a difficult issue, placing the Governor at odds with conservative members of her own party, and to date there is nothing resolved so that the budget can move forward.

Stay tuned!

No comments: