Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

Arizona Republic

Proposed City Water Grab Draining Scottsdale Tax Dollars

Unnecessary move bad for taxpayers

Leonard Gilroy
January 15, 2010

Councilman Ron McCullagh's push for a forced city takeover of Arizona American Water's water system in Scottsdale serves taxpayers poorly ("Acquisition of AAW is the right thing for Scottsdale," Jan 6 My Turn). He cites "sustainability" as the latest and most nebulous excuse for this folly, but it's a smoke screen.

Indeed, his rationale has changed a handful of times over the last year, indicating that even he can't find a compelling reason to spend tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to take over a well-run water facility serving a mere 2 percent of Scottsdale residents.

Frustratingly, city officials have already spent $400,000 to conduct a condemnation study and hire attorneys, and they earmarked over $10 million as a downpayment of sorts for acquisition costs. Presumably those funds could have come in handy in helping avert some of the service and employee cuts used to close the city's budget deficits.

Having spent two years and a lot of money on this issue, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. But there's no question about the economics: it would cost Scottsdale taxpayers millions and their monthly water bills would increase.

Leonard Gilroy
Director of Government Reform, Reason Foundation

Leonard Gilroy is Senior Managing Director, Pension Integrity Project &
Director of Government Reform

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