Mon, Feb. 17

Editorial: Claims of city taxation without representation have little merit

Tiered water rates for Verde Village and Verde Santa Fe combined with a new round of city budget talks means Cottonwood once again will be subjected to claims of taxation without representation.

No doubt there will be a strong dose of that sentiment when Cottonwood Administrative Services General Manager Rudy Rodriguez speaks to the Verde Valley Property Owners Association about water rates March 17, 7:30 p.m., at the Verde Village Clubhouse, 4855 E Broken Saddle Drive. Social media pundits already have tagged the gathering as an opportunity to “storm the clubhouse and demand reform in water rates.”

When asked why he was sending Rodriguez to this sacrificial altar instead of going himself, City Manager Doug Bartosh quipped, “Because Rudy is bigger than me.”

It’s interesting times for Cottonwood. It’s hard to remember a time when the city was on the receiving end of such consistent ill will as that which is experienced today. Even more interesting is the fact that much of the discontent about the way Cottonwood does business comes from folks who do not live in the city. Especially on social media, much of the anti-Cottonwood sentiment comes from those who live in Verde Santa Fe and Verde Village.

All of which begs for a refresher course in local history. In the past 30 years, there have been three well-planned efforts to have Verde Village annexed into Cottonwood’s city limits, and two of those were city-initiated. Likewise, there has been one strong effort to have Verde Santa Fe annexed into Cottonwood, and it too failed.

With Verde Village, the biggest missed opportunity at annexation came in 1986. Chuck Sweet was Cottonwood’s city manager at the time. He was an astute guy who clearly realized that 1980s-era Verde Village was only about 30 percent built out. Verde Village’s future was better realized if the city could coordinate its infrastructure development in concert with Cottonwood’s.

It did not happen, nor did subsequent efforts. In both the failed Verde Village and Verde Santa Fe annexation attempts, mind-boggling misinformation campaigns spelled defeat for annexation supporters. The dreaded “tax” word was used repeatedly to create an atmosphere of distrust and effectively kill annexation efforts.

“They only want our tax dollars,” was the most oft-heard claim from annexation opponents. Duh! Cottonwood already gets your sales tax dollars, and does not have to provide service in return.

“Once they annex us, they’ll raise our taxes,” was the other most-voiced claim. Just the opposite would likely be the case if annexation were to occur. Cottonwood provides municipal fire and emergency service and most likely would choose to not take on the property tax associated with the Verde Village Fire District.

For those Verde Village and Verde Santa Fe folks who cry about taxation without representation, you’ll not get much more than a chuckle from those with a true historical understanding of the community.

You had your chance, several times in fact, and you said no. You are now living with the consequences.

You funnel hundreds of thousands of sales tax dollars annually into Cottonwood’s general fund for which the city does not have to provide road, sewer, police or fire services in return. You pay inflated property taxes as compared to your neighbors who live in Cottonwood’s city limits. Cottonwood is also now your water provider because the former private water companies that served your community were willing sellers to the city.

Your complaints about taxation without representation have little merit.

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