Area Sales Tax results, reason for a little optimism

After analysis of Carefree’s December sales tax collections, I am cautiously optimistic about the improving tax revenue so far this fiscal year.  December’s numbers were reasonably strong (though a far cry from the heyday years of 2004 thru 2007), rounding out an improved second quarter which ended up 9.24% ($62.5K) over the same period last fiscal year.

Calendar year 2011 was 3.67% ($98.6K) higher than 2010, a modest but welcome improvement.

Carefree did not match the very strong gains realized by Cave Creek (AZ Republic article of 1/17/12).  Our last half of 2011 was up 8.07% ($100.8K) compared to their 18%, nicely aided by Wal-Mart contributions in Cave Creek.


Q2 / FY12          740,084.88                                         

Q2 / FY11          677,507.49

                              62,577.39        9.24%                                                                                     


Cal/YR 2011    2,786,580.82                           FY12-TD           1,350,736.54  

Cal/YR 2010    2,687,913.73                           FY11-TD           1,249,865.73  

                               98,667.09        3.67%                                      100,870.81      8.07%



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Does Carefree Need a 24/7 Visitor’s Lobby in Town Hall?

I don’t know about you, but this new idea from the CBA has me saying, What?

Let’s be honest as well as realistic. Even during the best times of the year, how many people are wandering around town center after dark? Don’t count the (previously) monthly concert nights; that would be unfair.

At a cost of $18,000 – $20,000, is it worth it? Couldn’t a $200 Tourist rack outside the Town Court in the Post Office Lobby suffice? Well I obviously have an opinion, but what about you. Let’s hear from you, please answer two questions:

… and

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Magic Numbers

Back on July 19th, under the headline “Carefree launches campaign to market itself as own town”, an Arizona Republic article outlined the new partnership, of sorts, between the town of Carefree and the 1 year old Carefree Business Association (CBA). 

Several points got my attention.  From the 2010-2011 budget, the town paid the CBA $12,000 for ‘a marketing campaign’.  In the recently approved budget for 2011-2012, that figure will rise to $72,000.  Not a bad raise for a 1 year old, although they did ask for $140,000.  The town eliminated $18,000 from the budget that would have gone to the Chamber of Commerce, an organization Carefree had supported, for years.  Okay, try something new, I get it.

By the way, that $18,000 will instead go to staff salary increases.

What I really didn’t get were the comments by councilman Miller.  He was quoted as saying, “that based on the success of that campaign, he supported the funding.” He went on to say “during that period, sales-tax revenue increased 3.8 percent in December; 2.6 percent in January; 3.8 percent in February, 6.1 percent in March; and 1.87 percent in April.”  Really? 

Mind you, we have no idea what he was comparing, do we?  It could be a variation of Chicago math, where one interested party supplies both sets of numbers for comparison.  Lately, it seems, there are politicians in our nation’s capital that use the same technique. 

Here are the actual 2011 numbers compared to 2010: January increased 1.91%, February decreased 1.80%, March increased 3.77%, April decreased 3.22%, May decreased 1.84%, and June increased 1.28%.

The chart provided is a factual comparison of the actual sales tax revenue in 2011 relative to 2010.  The figures come directly from State reports, and reflect the same reporting periods (months) for each year.  In other words, it is an ‘apples to apples’ comparison.

On a Calendar Year basis (6 months through June) Carefree had a loss of 0.15% from 2010, but on a full Fiscal Year basis Carefree earned 0.41% or $11,025 more than the prior Fiscal Year; that is less than ½ of 1 percent.

Miller concluded his remarks by asking himself, “if we didn’t do this marketing, where would we be?”  For the answer, consider the $12,000 paid to the CBA and the $11,000 increase in sales tax revenue over last fiscal year; Carefree would be 23,000 bucks ahead instead of 1,000 bucks in the hole.

A few other financial oddities surfaced.  Can you understand the logic of spending $18,000 to $20,000 to construct a 24/7 self-service information lobby at town hall?  Me either.  And why would the new town budget project a 3% increase in Sales Tax revenue, when that revenue has dropped precipitously 3 years in a row?  Both items would be more reasonable for Miller to question.  The budget also reflects a 12% decrease in all other State/County revenue, yet some analysts suggest it is likely to be double that amount.  Go figure. 

Once, during a prior recession (mid to late 1980’s), I asked an old friend, who happened to be a well-placed Harvard MBA, why his economic outlook was so gloomy.  He considered my inquiry for a few moments and then replied, “It is, what it is.”  I told him education wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.   In the end, numbers are what they are, not what someone wishes them to be.

While some of my comments may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek, the figures speak for themselves.  One should give serious thought to the town’s relationship with the CBA.  I’m not suggesting it is wrong, or otherwise inappropriate.  I merely suggest that without appropriate metrics in place to monitor activities against actual results, no qualitative or quantitative judgment of success can be made, at least not any that would be believable.

John Traynor, Carefree

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More than a decade of service to Carefree

I attended all three Carefree town meetings on Tuesday , May 3.  I had avoided all such meetings since last fall and have felt so much better.  The reason I attended the meetings this month is because they were the last scheduled meetings for the sitting council.  In June the newly elected council will be sworn in and begin their service.

And for the first time in many moons I felt compelled to speak during Call to the Public.  Rather than explain my rationale I’ll simply include those comments here:

I speak this afternoon, not with concern or difference of opinion, but rather with
gratitude; I’d like to thank the council members, especially those who will not
be returning,  for their service to Carefree.  Not for a moment do I believe it is easy volunteer work.  It is neither easy nor possible to please everyone.  So thank you all for your time and contributions.

In particular I’d like to thank Councilman Bob Coady, for his special dedication to Carefree and for his tireless efforts to improve our environment.  The monthly recycle events, the hazardous waste recycling program, as well as the innovative programs he initiated for
proper disposal of fluorescent light bulbs, prescription drugs, and electronic devices were all hugely successful.  The Christmas tree recycling and secure document shredding programs add to the list of his tireless efforts on behalf of residents and neighbors alike.  For almost 5 years I had the pleasure of working with Councilman Coady on most of those projects, and I can assure you that the scorching summer days were far from a picnic.

But beyond all the ‘extra’ volunteer work Councilman Coady has contributed, I also have to thank him for his willingness to listen to residents and help wherever and however he could.  That didn’t always make him popular with some folks, but it did solidify his place in the hearts of many Carefree voters.  I am proud to call him a friend.

Thank you Bob!

Bob Coady served on the council for 12 years and in that time managed to elevate Carefree to a preeminent position in the realm of voluntary community recycling.  His efforts brought positive attention to Carefree, not only within Maricopa County and Arizona in general, but also on the national stage when he was invited to address a number of our elected officials in Washington, D.C.  

Long before the advent of COINS, Bob established methods of communicating directly
with residents of Carefree when he initiated both his website and his monthly email newsletter, Carefree Matters.  I believe Carefree Matters had an 11 year run before the final edition was released on May 3rd.  Thanks also go out to his wife Sue Coady, for being his most devoted supporter and his chief editor.  Now she’ll have to keep him busy with other matters!

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Conflicting ‘Official’ Primary Election Results

The Town of Carefree Website [ ] documents the ‘official’ Primary Election results.  However, those numbers differ from the ‘official’ results posted on the Maricopa County Elections website [ ].  Clearly they cannot both be correct.  The Carefree website significantly understates the percentage results for the three Propositions which voters approved.  Unfortunately the town does not included a page timestamp on their website, as does the County, so there will be no way (other than my screen print taken today at 8:05AM) to determine when it changes.

I sent the following note to County Elections yesterday:

In reviewing the numbers for the March 8, 2011 elections in Carefree I noted apparent discrepancies in the calculated percentages regarding the 3 propositions, 421, 422, and 424.

Can you please explain why the results appear to be inaccurate?

Below are the official results versus the actual calculated percentages:

Official Calculated
Votes Percentage Percentage
421 YES 881 62.93 66.39
NO 446 31.86 33.61
Total 1327 94.79 100.00
422 YES 805 57.50 62.94
NO 474 33.86 37.06
Total 1279 91.36 100.00
423 YES 919 65.64 72.14
NO 355 25.36 27.86
Total 1274 91.00 100.00

Yet when I look at the mayoral results, things seem to balance:

Schwan 729 52.64
Stavoe 651 47.00
Write-in 5 0.36
Total 1385 100.00
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2011 Campaign Finances, to date

It’s always informative to review the campaign finance documents filed by candidates and Political Action Committees.  The information I gleamed after taking a look at those filings is outlined below.  Keep in mind that these numbers are not the final values, as additional reports are due by April 7th.

Interestingly, only two filings were submitted.  Of the 2 mayoral candidates, 7 council candidates, and the pro-Schwan PAC, only David Schwan and the Carefree Prosperity PAC headed by Ned Dobak and Gary Hayward had to file because of their spending levels.  All other candidates either spent nothing or spent under the $500 threshold.

Carefree Prosperity PAC [ Pro Schwan, Opposed to Propositions ]

Cash Contributions Expenses
Meyer, Lloyd Carefree, AZ 200.00 Mailing, #1 649.38
Skarda, John Carefree, AZ 200.00 Mailing, #2 561.99
Barrolaza, Julian Carefree, AZ 100.00 Gemmill, Bob 100.00
Dobak, Ned Carefree, AZ 100.00
Fulcher, Wayne Carefree, AZ 100.00
Gardner, Greg Carefree, AZ 100.00
Graham, Bill Carefree, AZ 100.00
Hayward, Gary Carefree, AZ 100.00
Hitchon, Lynn Carefree, AZ 100.00
Kroyer, Bob Carefree, AZ 100.00
Masha, Al Carefree, AZ 100.00
Pipp,Ralph Carefree, AZ 100.00
Steward, Richard Carefree, AZ 100.00
Arnold, Ray Carefree, AZ 50.00
Snyder, Don Carefree, AZ 50.00
Undisclosed, under $25 200.00
Total Cash 1,800.00 Total Cash 1,311.37
In-Kind Contributions In-Kind Expenses
Meyer, Lloyd 35.00 Poster 35.00
Gemmill, Bob 262.50 Bumper Stickers 262.50
Total In-Kind 297.50 Total In-Kind 297.50
Total Contributions $2,097.50 Total Expenses $1,608.87

Schwan for Mayor Candidate PAC

Cash Contributions Expenses
Leland, David Columbus, OH 100.00 Mailing, #1 805.80
Schwan, David Carefree, AZ 705.80
Total Cash 805.80 Total Expense 805.80
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Post Primary Election 2011

The dust has settled and the run-off for the 6th and final council seat was set for the May 17th General Election. Jim Peirce and Jim Van Allen were to vie for that final seat. However, on March 21st it was reported by the town in a COINS email that Jim Peirce had withdrawn from the election.

Peirce notified the Town Clerk in an email dated March 18th. His letter stated:

“With the success of Prop. 422 and Prop 423 I find I no longer need to be a candidate for council member in the May 17 2011 General Election. Accordingly, by this notification I withdraw as a candidate.” The email was signed, Jim Peirce.

Unfortunately the election will now be uncontested unless others step up to run as write-in candidates. Taking nothing away from Van Allen, it just doesn’t sit well that only one person will be running for that seat.

The bright spot on the horizon is that we will be spared the venomous character attacks that would have been launched by Lyn Hitchon upon the person of Jim Peirce.

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