Who are Arizona’s Local Government Friends of the Taxpayer?

The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation today released our Local Government Scorecard for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, covering 87 Arizona cities, counties, and special-purpose taxing districts, and 570 local officials. The report comes out at a time when many of those governments are finalizing tax and budget plans for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

View the complete scorecard here.

Some key scores are listed below.

Heroes of the Taxpayer:
Ray Carroll, Supervisor, Pima County
Ann Day, Supervisor, Pima County
Buster Johnson, Supervisor, Mohave County
Joe Johnson, City Councilman, Surprise

Champions of the Taxpayer:
Ed Blair, City Councilman, Payson
Marvin Brown, City Councilman, Maricopa
Su Connell, City Councilwoman, Payson
Carl Diedrich, City Councilman, Maricopa
Marquisha Griffin, City Councilwoman, Maricopa
Elaine Scruggs, Mayor, Glendale
Jon Thompson, City Councilman, Coolidge
Mike Vogel, City Councilman, Payson
John Wilson City Councilman, Payson

Friends of the Taxpayer:

Richard Alton, City Councilman, Surprise
Doug Coleman, City Councilman, Apache Junction
Rich Crockett, City Councilman, Pinetop-Lakeside
Rick Croy, City Councilman, Payson
Bob Edwards, City Councilman, Prescott Valley
Kenny Evans, City Councilman, Payson
Robin Gordon, City Councilwoman, Kingman
Skip Hall, City Councilman, Surprise
Charlie Gail Hendrix, Maricopa Integrated Health Service
Michael Hughes, City Councilman, Payson
John Longabaugh, City Councilman, Surprise
David McAtlin, City Councilman, Lake Havasu City
Mark Nexsen, City Councilman, Lake Havasu City
John Salem, City Councilman, Kingman
Dennis Schilling, City Councilman, Lake Havasu City
Dick Sousa, City Councilman, Goodyear
Lynn Truitt, City Councilwoman, Surprise
Roy Villanueva, City Councilman, Surprise
Keith Walker, City Councilman, Kingman
Leslee Wessel, City Councilwoman, Pinetop-Lakeside
John Williams, City Councilman, Surprise
Carol Young, City Councilman, Kingman

As with the scorecard for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, most of Arizona’s local government officials scored poorly, with the average total score falling between Ally of Big Government (-2) and Friend of Big Government (-3). That was despite the fact that many cities and counties enacted significant budget cuts for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

In many cases, this year’s budget cuts failed to compensate for last year’s over-spending. Incumbent officials who voted for large budget increases in their 2007-2008 approved budgets were penalized in this year’s scorecard.

AFPF Arizona’s recession scale for the 2008-2009 fiscal year allowed local governments to raise their total approved budgets by 2.4 percent and total property tax levies by five percent without penalty. The collapse of the real estate market was clearly evident last spring and summer, when officials were voting on budgets and tax levies. Given those signals, and given the difficulties faced by families and businesses in the private sector, the Scorecard’s allowances are generous.

The Scorecard attempted to rate the fiscal policy performance of 570 officials statewide, but 160 of those officials were in districts that failed to post documents to their websites.

It is disturbing that many cities and some counties do not post their budgets and meeting minutes online. The very least they could do is post Schedules A and B—the state-required documents that are included as appendices in most local government budgets.

Now, a disclaimer: a high score for a local government official does not entail AFPF Arizona’s endorsement of every line item in that government’s budget for the fiscal year. Even in the best-run local governments, taxpayers will find a lot of wasteful programs.

Research associates Patrick Gibbons and Joel Valenzuela helped complete this year’s scorecard.

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