Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Props 406, 403 aim to repair streets and increase safety


The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce recognizes that transportation infrastructure in our region is in critical need of repair and ongoing maintenance. Funding through Federal
resources is lacking and a solution that will adequately address our needs is unlikely. Arizona’s Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) is continually being swept, reducing the already minimal share our city sees from that funding source. The lack of funding support from our state and federal resources necessitates a local solution. Both the City and County have proposed increases to our sales tax in order to repair, improve and maintain our road system.

The City’s Prop 406 – Road Repair & Street Safety raises the sales tax one third of one percent (.033%) or 33 cents per $100 purchase. The County’s Prop 403 – Coconino County
Road Maintenance Tax raises sales taxes three tenths of one percent or 30 cents on a $100 purchase.
This would go into affect while the existing Coconino Parks & Open Space tax expires. The net increase would be reduced to 17.5 cents on a $100 purchase.

These initiatives would bring our sales tax rate from 8.446% to 8.951% or 50.5 cents per $100. It would be in effect for 20 years and fund approximately $12 to $13 million for needed repairs and maintenance.

The propositions are the result of a two year process with significant input from diverse groups within the community. There have been two voter surveys, a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) comprised of various community leaders, and independent road evaluations.

The results of the 1,200 voters surveyed indicate overwhelming support (69%) for a tax increase now vs. paying more later for future repairs. The CTAC recommended a sales tax increase to fund these core services. Kimmley-Horn and Associates provided the independent assessment, finding that 35% of the County paved roads are in poor or severe condition.

The City of Flagstaff and Coconino County have stated that without the significant revenue this initiative will provide services will be at risk. The negative impact on tourism and the business community is too great to ignore. It is a public safety and an economic development imperative that our roads are properly maintained.

The Chamber is cognizant that the idea of raising our local sales taxes to fund road repair is a difficult proposition. Unfortunately, our two choices are to let our roads fall into further disrepair or fund improvements ourselves.

Registered voters have the opportunity to decide to fund better roads in the upcoming general election on November 4, 2014.
For more information, visit www.coconino.az.gov/countyroads and www.flagstaff.az.gov/roadsafety.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blinded by the Light: a Dark Skies Summit

On August 18-19 the Keystone Center hosted a Dark Skies Summit to explore common solutions to the growing threat from the proliferation of white and poorly-filtered LED outdoor lighting in this region.

The value of our Dark Skies City designation cannot be underestimated to sustain and grow our
deep scientific and astronomy communities.

The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce participated along with collaborative partners Lowell
Observatory, the City of Flagstaff and NAU.

The importance of preserving our Dark Skies as it relates to regional economic development
through the use of emerging technologies and it’s importance to our tourism industry was discussed.
Public policy, balancing lighting standards and public safety while incorporating cost effective new
technology to preserve our dark skies will all continue to be important work at the Chamber on
behalf of this region. For more information please go to Lowell.edu and Keystone.org

Business Leaders Meet New NAU President

At the end of August, Chamber board members, ambassadors and other community members gave a warm welcome to NAU’s new president, Dr. Rita Cheng.

The Chamber has always believed in the importance of a strong partnership between the business community and NAU, which is why President and CEO Julie Pastrick invited the new university president to the Chamber’s board meeting.

Dr. Cheng spoke about both her career and personal history, as well as her exciting plans for the future of NAU, building on John Haeger’s numerous accomplishments.

Business leaders asked her questions, gave her advice and informed her about current initiatives happening between the university and the community and at the Chamber of Commerce.

Welcome, Dr. Cheng!