Flagstaff Groups Propose Sales Tax Hike

Flagstaff’s seemingly endless appetite for new and higher taxes has a new contender slated for the November 7, 2018 ballot. This most recent tax proposal is a 1/8 cent sales tax hike on purchases in the City, with revenue going to fund community parks and sports facilities as well as acquire open space within the City limits. If approved by voters, Flagstaff’s sales tax rate will jump to around 9% (higher if BBB tax applies) in January 2019.

Citizens and local groups are beginning to line up behind this proposed tax with votes of support by the City’s Open Spaces and Sustainability commissions coming up in the next few weeks. Supporters of the tax hike say that if it is approved by voters it will help protect water quality, forests and provide alternatives to gangs and drugs for teens.

76% of Flagstaff voters Support A Special Election To Amend Wage Hike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Elevate Flagstaff
Email: info@elevateflagstaff.com

76% of Flagstaff voters support a Special Election to amend wage hike

Today Elevate Flagstaff, the campaign leading the effort to amend Prop 414 released a poll showing overwhelming support for a special election. This poll comes after they turned in nearly 9,000 signatures from Flagstaff voters in favor of the Sustainable Wages Act.

The poll also confirms that Flagstaff residents continue to hear about the negative consequences of Prop 414 and 73% believe the City Council should grant a special election in May to amend it.

The poll also found that even though 50% initially voted in favor of Prop 414, only 18% believe it has had a positive impact on our local economy while 47% see a negative impact.

Debra Maya from Elevate Flagstaff states, “It’s not surprising to see undeniable support from Flagstaff voters who want to amend Prop 414 before it harms our local economy. The negative unintended consequences have been brutally hard on small businesses, low wage workers and those caring for our developmentally disabled. We cannot ignore the nearly 9,000 residents who want to amend Prop 414 with the Sustainable Wages Act, and I urge City Council to take action and allow the Special Election in May before it further harms our community.”

For complete poll results click here.

This poll was commissioned by Elevate Flagstaff and performed by Data Orbital, LLC. It was conducted telephonically January 29-30, 2017 with 350 respondents. The margin of error is 5.19%.

165+ Businesses Voice Support For Changes To Flagstaff’s Living Wage Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
150 Flagstaff local small businesses unite in support of amending Proposition 414

FLAGSTAFF (January 6) – In just over 72 hours, more than 150 locally owned small businesses in Flagstaff have stepped forward to publicly stand together in support of amending Proposition 414, the second of two Arizona minimum wage laws. The list is currently at 165 and is still growing as employers and employees are coming together to amend the Proposition that has been labeled, ‘Too Much Too Fast’. Under the threat of boycott, the local business community has banded together to speak up and educate the community about the unintended consequences of giving Flagstaff two raises totaling $4 per hour in just 6 months. The original authors of Proposition 414 have labeled the group of businesses as the ‘1%’ implying that these small business owners are the wealthiest 1% of the nation’s citizens. The local shopkeepers have united to speak out about their true incomes and the harsh reality of possibly closing if Proposition 414 is not amended.
“This is a giant step forward in this discussion. Local employers have been silenced throughout the entire last election process concerning the minimum wage propositions. Under fear of boycott, they were unable to speak out and defend themselves. They were not able to share the real effects of the two compounding increases. And now they have a voice! Many of these business owners will struggle to adjust to the state wage increase, but will endure to do what’s best for Flagstaff. Some of our local businesses are not going to be able to adjust to the second wave of raises that the present language of Prop 414 includes. The businesses on this list support the state’s Prop 206 and the $4 raise it’s giving our citizens over the next 4 years. Unfortunately, with the accelerated rate of 414, our local mom and pop stores are being asked to go above and beyond the state $2 increase put into place on January 1, 2017 and adjust their wages an additional $2 per hour again in July of 2017. FNaR has asked our neighbors who own businesses to make up for 100% of the cost of living issue in Flagstaff with back to back large wage increases in a very short amount of time. I just don’t see how that’s fair and how these people are expected to survive?” said Rand Jenkins.

“The Sustainable Wages Act” would amend the Flagstaff City Code to require employers in Flagstaff to pay their employees at least the minimum hourly wage imposed by state law and an additional fifty cents per hour to ensure that Flagstaff wages are always higher than the rest of the state. This means that, given current state laws, the minimum wage recently increased to $10, and wages in Flagstaff would gradually and sustainably increase to $12.50 per hour by 2021. Provisions in the City Code concerning the treatment of employee tips, cost of living adjustments, prohibitions on employer retaliation, notice and record keeping requirements, penalties, DUE PROCESS and enforcement issues would be amended to make them similar to parallel provisions in state law.
Local Flagstaff Businesses & Owners in support of Elevate Flagstaff: (as of 01.05.17 6:00 pm)

5 Points VP Racing
ABRiO Car
Absolute Bikes
Altitudes Bar & Grill
American Best Inn
Americana Inn
Annex Cocktail Lounge
Aspen Deli
Aspen Valley Golf Club
B 4 Transport Co.
Basement Marketplace
Beaver Street Brewing Company
Benefit and Financial Strategies, LLC.
Big O Tire
Bigfoot BBQ
Black and Birch
Black Hound Galleries
Blendz Winery & Bar
Bohunk Excavating Inc.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Flagstaff
Budget Inn
Cabin Fever Play
Canyon Inn
Capital Concepts, LLC.
Carmel’s Flagstaff
Carpets of Dalton Flooring America
Casa Duarte
CertaPro Painters
Charley’s Lounge
Chevron Ft. Valley
Chevron Quick Stop
Christina R. Talley, CPA, PLLC.
Click Co+Word
Coconino Auto Supply
Coffee Collective
Cold Stone Creamery
Comfort Inn- Lucky Lane
Coppa Café
Cork n Bottle
Country Host Restaurant
Cox Media
CPA Accounting Flagstaff
Cruise Mechanical Company
Cuvee 928
daVinci Realty
Days Hotel
Days Inn
Days Inn West 66
Dogg Haus
Double Tree Hotel
Dutch Bros
Eat ‘N Run LLC
Econo Lodge Lucky Lane
Econo Lodge University
El Capitan
Fat Olives
Flagstaff Brewing Company
Flagstaff Chocolate Company
Flagstaff Foot Doctors
Flagstaff Landscaping
Flagstaff Nut House
Flagstaff Sports Exchange
Flagtown Prints
Goodwill of Flagstaff
Gopher Hole
Graceland Portable Buildings
H&R Block
Haven Health
Head First Hair Designs
High Altitude Personal Training
Highland Country Inn
Highlands Floor Coverings
Hilton Garden Inn
Hippie City Creative
Holiday Inn Express on Lucky Lane
HomeCo Lumber and Hardware
Horseman’s Lodge
Hotel Aspen
Howard Johnson West 66
Hozhoni Foundation
IL Rosso Italiane
IML Containers Arizona
Jitter’s Lunch Box
Johanna Klomann, CPA PLLC.
Just Wireless Inc.
Klomann CPA
Knights Inn Milton Road
La Fonda
La Vetta
Late for the Train
Lumberyard Brewing Company
Luxury Inn
Macy’s Coffeehouse
Marriott Hotel / Hampton Inn
Majestic Marketplace
Martannes
Messages and More
MIX Flagstaff
Mormon Lake Lodge
Mother Road Brewery
Mountain Mojo Group
Mountain Sports
NiMarco’s Pizza
Northern Pines
Northland Beverage
NY Hots
Oakmont
Old World Style Almonds
Oxendale Kia
Performance Staffing
Pine Crest Motel
PJ’s Chilcottage
Plated Projects represented by Oakmont, Taverna Greek Grill & The Mayor
Porky’s Pub
Qi Reflexology & Body Massage Spa
Quality Inn on Lucky Lane
Rainbow’s End
Re/Max Peak Properties
Red 115 Salon and Spa
RisingHy
Roadway Inn & Suites
Roadway Inn Downtown
Roux 66
Roy’s Fresh Lemonade
Ruff’s
Sage Brush Trading Co.
Salsa Brava
Satchmos BBQ
Shift Kitchen and Bar
Shoes ‘N Such
Single Track Bikes
Ski Haus
Smooth Brew Company
Speedi Car Wash
Sportsman’s Bar & Grill
State Farm
Summit Gymnastics Academy
Super 8 East
Super 8 Lucky Lane
Super 8 West
Superior Propane
Sweet Shoppe Candy Store
Tanning Time Salon & Boutique
Taverna
Tepa Burger
Terry Marxen Chevrolet
The Mayor
The State Bar
The Zickerman Law Office, PLLC.
Thornager’s Catering & Thornager’s on Kiltie Lane
Tinderbox Kitchen
Top of the Mountain Coffee
Tortilla Lady
The Tourist Home
Travel Inn on Milton
Travel Lodge Flagstaff
Travel Lodge Route 66
Turner Engineering
Twin Pines Gaser
Vintage Partners
Weatherford Hotel
West USA Realty
Whyld Ass
Woodlands Plaza Hotel LP
Woodlands Wash and Lube
Zombies Flagstaff

How can you help?
1. SIGNATURES: The Elevate Flagstaff Committee needs to obtain over 4,400 valid signatures from registered voters in the city by January 13th. We need you to help us with this effort by signing our petition, and/or distributing other petitions at businesses or gatherings for others to sign. Email info@elevateflagstaff.com if you are interested in helping this way.

2. DONATIONS: We will be fundraising for the campaign ahead. Every dollar helps towards our efforts. Please visit our website at www.elevateflagstaff.com to make a donation.

3. FACEBOOK: Like us on Facebook and keep sharing messages about the wage increase impacts with your friends and family.

Paid for by Elevate Flagstaff in Support of Initiative IN2017-01. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

During Punching Incident, Flagstaff Officer Forgot To Turn Body Camera On

The Flagstaff Police Department released a statement tonight saying that the police officer seen punching a woman in the face on footage captured by a bystander’s camera, did not have his own police body camera turned on during the altercation. The media release by Flag PD says the officer had his camera on while arriving on the scene, turned it off before making contact with the suspect, and then turned it back on after the suspect had been punched and was in handcuffs. The media release reads as follows:

“Flagstaff Police Department- MEDIA RELEASE

The Flagstaff Police Department has created a web page at http://fpdtransparency.com. The site is now up and able to be accessed. This site contains Officer Bonar’s report, body camera footage, pertinent policies, and media releases. It is noted that Office Bonar initially activated his camera when he arrived. He deactivates his camera once he is told by the deputies that his assistance is no longer needed and he is in the process of getting into his car. He then notices Ms. Morris and makes contact with her. He does not immediately activate his camera upon initial contact as the contact quickly escalated. Officer Bonar does activate his camera once Ms. Morris is placed in handcuffs. Officer Bonar’s failure to activate the camera prior to the incident will also be addressed during the internal affairs investigation into his actions on November 16, 2016.”

This is not the first time the Flagstaff Police Department has forgotten to turn on body cameras or had the cameras fail. During a recent shooting that killed an unarmed suspect, the Flagstaff Police Department had three officers either forget to turn their cameras on or had their cameras malfunction. That press release can be found here:

https://flagstaffvoices.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/three-police-body-cameras-malfunction-during-fatal-flag-police-shooting/

An Open Letter To The Flagstaff City Council About Upcoming $15 Living Wage

Mayor and Council,

My  name is Josh Collier I have a finance degree from NAU and have a firm handle on economics. I am quite often listening to and reading articles and books from economists just because this is something I am very interested in. I wanted to speak today about Prop 414 that passed last week and the issues that my family and others are already seeing, and it hasn’t even gone into effect yet.

We received a notice from our son’s daycare last week which stated: “With the new minimum wage law that just passed, please be prepared for tuition to go up in January 2017. I will do my best to keep the increase as minimal as possible, however, with the minimum wage increasing to $12 per hour by July, it may go up a substantial amount. Also, please remember the ARK has only raised tuition $10 in the last four years and our current tuition is one of the lowest in town.” My guess would be at the low end  this will be a 20% increase and a 35-40% increase at the high end as this is a very heavily labor oriented industry that normally pays very close to minimum wage.

The childcare issue was one of the biggest points my wife made when we discussed this minimum wage increase initiative(my wife actually brought it up before I did). She even posted a question about childcare on the Flagstaff Needs a Raise Facebook Page, which I believe to be run by council member Putzova and her husband Joe Bader. The concern was never even addressed or commented on.

I was also wondering about some numbers they had published and how many would be affected. Their calculations were being questioned for legitimacy and I had done my calculations and actually gotten a number close to theirs (though it seems this number is for all of Coconino County rather than just Flagstaff as they stated, though the Bureau of labor statistics does say Flagstaff metropolitan area even though it seems to be Coconino county). So I just wanted to see where their number came from.  So I asked them this question on the Facebook page.  They said “use the data tools from the bureau of labor statistics”. To which I replied “ In which way did you do that can you guide me to the exact numbers and math you used?” I was then given a condescending response of “Contact NAU or CCC for assistance. They are really great at teaching statistics and research methods and professors are very helpful. Even librarians will be able to help you to research appropriate data sources.”  I have had plenty of experience with statistics and was only trying to verify(as I had my own number and way I found it, which like I said was pretty close to their number) as I believe transparency is important and ran on that as a key platform issue when I ran for county supervisor.

With all this being said I believe many of the people did not even understand what the prop said and what they were voting on and I don’t believe many thought it would pass.  I have now seen business owners extremely worried(even ones that seemed to have been at least silent and maybe even for it) but most thought they could vote with their feels instead of their brains because it was never going to pass.

Even the person who wrote this legislation is quite incompetent as I have read the full text(http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/DocumentCenter/View/49946, page 32 maybe a typo by the city but I believe this is what was voted on) and the part about the tipped employees reads as follows:  “E. For any tipped employee, the employer may pay a cash wage up to:

  1. $3 per hour less than the minimum wage rate set forth in this section on or after July 1, 2017;”. This to me says that the employer is allowed to only pay below $3 per hour less than the wage on july 1st which would be $9. This should say “may pay a cash wage no less than”.  So I could see restaurants exploiting this and having a case.

It really is sad to see so many voters as well as council members and incoming council members that have so little understanding of economics and unintended consequences, but are willing to vote based on their feelings.  I would bet those that wrote this have very little understanding of price controls in this case a price floor, supply and demand, the disastrous effects of the minimum wage hike in the American Samoa (that I believe is a closer situation to Flagstaff than some of the other big cities like Seattle that the raise really has not fully gone into force and because of our very constrained area of land rather than Seattle or other cities in which the businesses have other options like moving out of the higher minimum wage area), the welfare cliff, or even exemptions for young people, disabled and other things that are thought of in essentially every other of these minimum wage laws. Also did you think of the way it affects the elderly on Social security or those that live on savings that now will have their purchasing power diminished?  There are probably many other unintended consequences that I have not added or even thought of, but probably apply.  Minimum wage does not magically raise productivity or increase a worker’s value it only puts a roadblock in the way of that individual getting that first job to increase their skills.

From Henry Hazlitt’s book economics in one lesson he states: “The first thing that happens, for example, when a law is passed that no one shall be paid less than $106 for a forty-hour week is that no one who is not worth $106 a week to an employer will be employed at all. You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less. You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services that he is capable of rendering. In brief, for a low wage you substitute unemployment. You do harm all around, with no comparable compensation.”

I have not been able to find any person that can tell me the mathematical or economic way that an exactly $15 wage was actually what we needed.  I would have more respect if they had matched it with the living wage calculator for this area that says 1 adult needs 11.24 or 16.08 for 2 parents working and 2 kids even though I would still have been in opposition. This as presented(and as presented in most of the other parts of the country) is nothing more than a gimmick or a battle cry of fight for 15 to be used by those who wrote this to pander to the economically illiterate. Those who wrote this are extremely narcissistic to think they know where the tipping point is where this starts harming people.  Most of even the most ardent supporters of a $15 minimum wage do think there is a point where it becomes problematic as they think you are crazy if you ask them why not $25, $50 or $100(so common sense tells them these are problems).  What kind of wisdom do you have that you can know exactly what every industry needs for a wage and what every employee needs to have? I have a pretty good understanding of economics and believe the minimum wage is always detrimental, but just by magnitude, so how bad depends on the amount of people it affects, the going wage rate at the time, the amount of the raise, the phase in and many more things.  I can not even guess where the extremely negative effects come in as many times the minimum wage follows the wage that is already being paid rather than leads as I believe this does.

I have also been told that prices wouldn’t increase, that unemployment will not increase, that businesses won’t shut down and that this is only good, but I am already seeing businesses extremely worried and even those who voted for it and big supporters worried about the effect. Like I said I don’t believe people(including myself) actually thought it would pass, but it was rather the “noble” statement they could make by voting for it.  Just because you think it would be a great thing to have higher wages(as do I) does not mean standard basic economic principles do not exist and that government can magically make it happen. Higher wages(purchasing power) requires increasing skills, increasing productivity as well as an increase in technology which will increase purchasing power due to more efficiency.  We do not live in the land of unicorns and harry potter magic.

So when you, that were in favor of these raises or pushed the minimum wage props(both 206 and 414), see the increase in cost of living that you say you want to combat, just remember you were the one that made it worse while making empty election promises to combat it.  So thank you very much for my raise in prices it has really helped our family who lives on a very tight budget already(especially after my son’s health insurance was increased by 40% this year, but that is a totally separate problem).

Best Wishes,

Josh Collier

Warrior for liberty and sound economics

What Is The Problem With Political Action Committees?

What’s the problem with PAC’s (Political Action Committees) some may ask? Allow me to provide an example. The Summit Fire Department serves the majority of the area surrounding Flagstaff. Their governing board has asked the voters for a $3.5M Bond through Proposition 409. If you live or travel outside the city, you’ve seen signs like the one below that state “VOTE YES PROP 409 SUMMIT FIRE REDUCE RESPONSE TIMES”. Another version touts “Increase Medical and Fire Services”. Sounds great right? Who wouldn’t want to do both? Only problem is that passing the bond will do neither!

According to the OFFICIAL Summit Fire information, the bond will:

“The Fire Board for the Summit Fire and Medical District has called this special bond election and intends to use the bond authorization to retire existing indebtedness incurred for capital projects, to upgrade communications systems, to acquire safety equipment.”

I specifically asked a firefighter at last night’s neighborhood watch meeting if the bond would in fact accomplish what the signs promise. His answer. No.

So who is posting these signs with the deliberate misinformation? Turns out, a couple of local Summit firefighters formed a PAC (see attached for details) “Vote Yes for Prop 409”. The PAC lists itself as a “Firefighter Union/Union Organization”. This PAC is identified at the bottom of each sign as is legally required. So why would a PAC that is run by firefighter’s post signs with inaccurate information? You’d have to ask them that question but what we DO know is that the ONLY funding the PAC has received is from two Phoenix Commercial Construction Companies. That raises a new question, WHY would Phoenix construction companies donate thousands of dollars to a PAC in Northern Arizona? That is another question we can’t answer but a little further research shows both companies are involved in building what appear to be primarily municipal facilities, like fire stations….

Bottom line here for me, I believe we should vote for Prop 409, the due diligence has been completed by both the Fire Board and a Citizens Commission and it’s necessary to maintain our current level of service. Service I feel is exemplary. I think we can also agree that being lied to by a PAC that can’t be held accountable for their actions and is funded by questionable sources hurts more than it helps.

Supporting documents can be found here: supporting-docs

–Rob Wilson

 

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Mining Industry Money Pours Into Coconino County Board Race

Outside PAC money from special interests groups is quickly finding its way into our local races as early voting begins and the August 30th primary gets closer. Republican voters in Coconino County District 4 recently received a mailer from the mining industry which is spending thousands of dollars in support of candidate Jim Parks. The ads are paid for by ROC PAC, a part of the Arizona Rock Products Association, a mining lobbyist group.

Seeing the mining industry pour so much money into a local Coconino County race leaves many wondering what they expect in return?

Jim Parks is facing Josh Collier on the August 30th primary ballot. Both are vying for the open seat vacated by Democrat Mandy Metzger.

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Mailers supporting Jim Parks paid for by the Arizona Rock Products Association, a lobbying group for the mining industry.