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A vote for Traynor is a vote for Carefree

By Doug Stavoe | January 27, 2010

doug stavoeCarefree politics have never been so conflicted and I’m sure no one enjoys it. Let’s all agree that debate and discussions are central to our government. Sadly, healthy debate on important issues sometimes gets twisted into personal attacks, accusations, and negativism. If one doesn’t agree with another, he is labeled as being “Anti-Carefree.” I believe this is unwarranted.

Let me state clearly I have no association with the Recall David Schwan effort (I even signed David Schwan’s petition to run for Carefree Town Council in the first place). I joined the Carefree Town Council in June without bias, PAC backing, or constituency group support. I strive to remain objective so as to perform my Council duties in an effective manner. Up to this point, I have remained publicly quiet on the recall election but I am now compelled to weigh in on the matter.

Each Carefree Voter will soon receive a ballot in the mail allowing you to select either John Traynor or David Schwan for a seat on the Carefree Town Council. This election is asking who you think will best contribute to the future of Carefree. Many residents like me share the view that the need for this election is unfortunate. However, the plain and simple truth is there is an election, and you have the right to vote. I find three issues to be significant in this race.

Financial Discipline
By the design of our Town government, the Town Council approves the annual budget (which happened last August), but actual expenses are authorized exclusively by the Mayor. This is a very important distinction: only the Mayor has authority over actual cash disbursements.

Because I have education and experience to contribute in the financial area, the Town Council voted me Finance Liaison and I represent the Council in this capacity. I see one material problem in the Town’s current financial condition: our current Mayor is authorizing more spending than the town receives in income. This clearly is not a sustainable fiscal policy and it is not financially sound.

Town revenue continues to slide with sales tax revenue down another 17.5 percent thru November. The rate of decline in sales tax revenue has also accelerated (November down 27.7 percent). In just 5 months, David Schwan has spent $474,014 more than the Town has received. He estimates the town’s annual budget deficit to be significant under his brief leadership. Furthermore, he is spending our limited emergency reserves to pay for day-to-day expenses, as he claims to reduce spending. His promise to not spend future money (which the Town has not yet received) on future expenses (the amount of which the Town does not yet know) is interesting accounting, but certainly not an argument for sound financial practices. His stated plan is to stand pat on current deficit spending, disburse money reserved for emergencies, and hope things get better.

Plan for the Future
In anticipation of our predictable revenue decline, last July I proposed to Town Council that we immediately establish an Economic Security and Marketing Committee (similar to our P&Z committee) to assist Town Council in formulating solutions for our economic challenges. This item was removed from the Council agenda at David Schwan’s request. Unfortunately, David Schwan has not presented any viable alternative plan to support our sales tax base.
In addition, I proposed to David Schwan that we establish a Financial Advisory Group (reporting to the Mayor) to offer expert advice and perspective on financial issues such as contracts, staff efficiency, expense management, and financial policy. This idea was also rejected by David Schwan. We cannot afford further lack of foresight.

Culture of Conflict
I believe each and every Carefree Councilmember wants what is best for our Town. However, difference of opinion and debate are essential to our “government of the people.”
David Schwan is quoted as recently saying publicly two big problems our community faces is “hatred and lies.” I sincerely hope he doesn’t feel this way about Carefree. Simply being Mayor requires working shoulder to shoulder with council and staff, and accepting responsibility for the current state of affairs in our community.

This election is not about the merits of a recall election. This election is about selecting a Councilman who will offer the most positive contribution for the future of our Town. I admit I have an agenda. My agenda is I want the quality of life and property values in our wonderful town to be the highest of any community in the State of Arizona. I want to feel like our town government will take us all in this direction. I feel Carefree has a more positive future if John Traynor is elected to the Town Council.