Emergency! Urgent! Shucks – Not So Much.

Like democracy, some essential concepts of Western civilization were first taught in Greece.   Children learned of a shepherd boy who tells the tale of an attacking wolf after the flock.  After enough false alarms, the villagers did not believe the story.   When it was finally real, nobody listened.   Some versions of the story have the wolf eating the boy.   We like the poetic justice of that version.   COVID-19 and the mandates conditioned us to accept government overreach.   There is some pushback on potential future “emergency” declarations now.   There is an Arizona ballot proposition in 2024 to address just such overreach.  Twelve bills have already been enacted on emergency powers in nine states.  There are over 300 pending bills in 45 state legislative bodies.  One ballot measure nationwide has been passed to date.  There may be additional pending ballot measures outside of Arizona.   Six Town Councilers jumped on an emergency overreach bandwagon and never looked back.

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Did you ever wonder why an Emergency Ordinance was used?

Declare an "Emergency"

When Ordinance 953 and 954  were approved, they were done using an “emergency declaration.”  Before they were adopted, we submitted a letter to Council Members addressing our concern about using an emergency ordinance.    A snip is as follows:

I anticipate that the proposed declaration of “An Emergency” is disingenuous.  To assert that a matter from 2018 is now an “emergency” appears to be an attempt to circumvent the requirement for two readings.

The entire letter, with Town Code and “emergency” definitions, dated April 11th, 2023, is below in .pdf.

What was the emergency?  The memo to the Town Council stated, “(P)rojects are necessary for the immediate preservation of the peace, health or safety of the Town.”  IMMEDIATE!  That sounds very dire.  The emergency projects required financing to complete.  So, the “emergency?”

Therefore, in order to put the Town in a position to obtain the best financing terms for the Town and its residents, it is warranted to include an emergency clause in the Town Council ordinance repealing Town Code §§ 157.01 and 35.04.

What did the Town Council approve?  Town Oridnace 954 had thirty-eight (38) “WHEREAS” criteria.  Numbers thirty-six (36) and thirty-eight (38) on the list read as follows:

WHEREAS, in order to put the Town in a position to obtain the best financing terms for the Town and its residents, it is warranted to include an emergency clause in this Ordinance repealing Town Code § 35.04;

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the Town to preserve the health, safety and general welfare by adopting this Ordinance by emergency clause to effectuate the immediate implementation of the repeal of Town Code § 35.04.

Yes, that is correct.  The emergency was rising interest rates.  There are no necessary projects, peace, health, or safety issues.

On the date of this post, September 12th, 2023, an emergency was declared 154 days ago and counting.  To our knowledge, there has been no funding secured.  There have been no large projects preserving anything.  The dire “immediate preservation” seems to be less than dire.  We will discuss interest rates in a moment.  First, think about this some more.  Six of seven Council Members bought into using an “emergency ordinance.”  They purportedly repealed the voters’ will due to a non-existent emergency.   Payson has a lovely library; perhaps a work study session on Aesop’s fables would be helpful.  How often can Town Legal and Town Council cry “WOLF!” before they are ignored?  Voters can decide.

What is the motivation to declare an emergency?

Payson Council - Who do they work for?Did you know that by declaring an “emergency,” Ordinances 953 and 954 have special standing?  They go into effect immediately and are not subject to a referendum.   A Referendum would allow a petition to refer the issue to the voters.  If the voters approved the referendum, it would require the Mayor and Council to repeal the ordinance.  They want your money but not your input.  We wrote about that very subject in February 2018Why do they fear the people they serve?  Who do they work for if not for the voters that elected them?  Arizona Revised Statutes, § 19-142 has the actual law.

The original Complaint against the Town included a co-plaintiff who attempted to apply for a referendum.   Ms. Nichols has asked to be dismissed from the matter.   The use of “an emergency ordinance” will not be resolved by our group.  That is unfortunate.

There is no peace, health, or safety issue, no emergency, and NO recourse other than through the courts.  Town Council prevented the same voters who supported Proposition 401 and 402 from overturning their decision.  Council threw away your vote and prevented you from having your say at the ballot box on the issue.   That does not seem to be in the community’s best interest.   Would Council members be as willing to throw away the votes that elected them to office?   Voters can decide if the current Council Members are the best fit to represent them.

So, let’s talk about interest rates.   We recognize that this is not a direct correlation.  Mortgage rates are representative of the cost of money.   On the “emergency date,” April 12, 2023, a thirty-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.83%.   As of September 8th, 2023, a thirty-year fixed rate is 7.70%.   On a $10M 20-year fixed rate note, for every 1% increase in the rate, the monthly obligation increases by about $5,500.00 per month or $66,000.00 per year.  A $20M loan?  About $132,000.00 per year.  $20M for twenty years results in $2.6M in extra costs for every full percentage point.  Where are rates headed?  Who knows for sure, but the trend is not our friend.  See the graph(s) below.  The Town is contemplating a general obligation bond vote in 2025.  We wonder where the rates will be then.  Is 2025 an emergency?

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Supporting Interest Rate Information for April 12th, 2023.

 

Supporting Interest Rate Information for September 8th, 2023.

Supporting Interest Rate Trend Information.

Letter to Town Council on April 11th, 2023 discussing an “emergency ordinance.”

 

041123 Letter to TOP with enclosures

 

The initial hearing is scheduled for September 22, 2023

1:30 p.m.

714 Beeline Highway S, Payson, AZ 85541.

 

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