Originally published Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 05:59a.m.
My family moved here 28 years ago. I was 5. Having never been to Kingman before, I remember not being fond of the idea to move to a new place.
Upon arriving, my attitude quickly changed as I grew to love the town, the people, and the fullness of Kingman life. It is a nicer town now than it was 28 years ago.
Southside Park now has grass on the T-ball fields. Chipotle finally came. We have a splash pad. I want my own soon-to-be family of seven to love it here, too, and to have the best places to learn, recreate, shop and eat.
I want a healthy town that attracts both the young and old to relocate or stay here and a vibrant community that brings new companies calling. Growing and becoming a desirable location requires a community that is willing to make wise and rational decisions.
Risks must be taken at times for progress, but let them be well-calculated risks with highly-probable chances for favorable outcomes.
Nothing has worried me more about Kingman in my experience here than the current idea of mortgaging our community’s future on a huge, combined, double-interchange project.
Utilizing massive debt brings such absurdly high risks, it feels like gambling. Gambling is a losers game that cannot be the path to the happy future community we all want. I fear this recent tax increase will only lead to more increases in the future as we find ourselves needing to feed the debt beast of burden.
There are better options available than to take on up to $100 million in debt for these projects. That amount of debt has spelled ruin to organizations much larger than our precious City of Kingman. Let’s take a longer look at the alternatives already presented to the city that don’t require the city to take on massive debt or raise taxes:
A. Kingman Crossing: Kingman Regional Medical Center has attempted to present an idea to spearhead the Kingman Crossing interchange itself whereby, in my understanding, 1.) the city could get immediate revenue from the sale of its land, 2.) KRMC takes on the burden of funding and managing the interchange construction, and 3.) on the back-end, the city would reimburse some costs for the interchange project with only newly-created sales tax coming from the new area. Again, not taking from any current city revenue sources, and these paybacks would have a cap and/or sunset date. The project would literally pay for itself from the new revenue until the payback expired, and any remaining balance would be a gift. I couldn’t think up a more attractive and low-risk deal for the city to consider.
B. Rattlesnake Wash: We keep hearing promises that adding another road to the airport will magically cause large manufacturers to suddenly flock there, but I find that hard to believe. I doubt there is pent-up demand for our manufacturing complex just because they want a second access route. I was personally at the Jan. 31, 2017 City Council meeting where Sunbelt Development and their consultants were allowed to present their plans for a “master plan” community for land they own in the Rattlesnake Wash area, and they clearly expressed their desire to self-fund the improvements and the interchange. They said concerning funding of this second interchange project (exact quotes from the legal minutes), “that they can self-tax, self-district, etc.” He said they can give a substantial contribution to making the interchange happen. He said that they do not need the citizens to bear a burden, they just need the city’s collaboration to move forward and “since they would be forming the district over Mr. Nugent’s property and Sunbelt property, the only residents impacted would be the ones located there. He said that they would be able to, over time, issue bonds with approval of City Council to fi(n)ance public infrastructure that benefits the property, such as the interchange.”
If these entities, or others, are willing to manage and fund and build respective interchanges themselves because it is required for them to make money and is a part of executing their business plans and ventures, then shouldn’t we get out of the way and allow our town to grow?
Let’s not be hasty in these important decisions. I was at the Aug. 15 Council meeting. It was the most confusing, unorganized, and hastily managed meetings I’ve ever been to in my whole life. I support the recently started ballot initiative to reverse the tax increase and give the community a chance to have a heightened voice in these critical discussions into the future. There are many municipalities in the state that already require ballot votes to increase sales taxes. Prescott, Mesa, and Tucson residents all passed measures in their cities to increase their sales taxes for various reasons in 2017 alone.