Phoenix Prop 104: A Waste of Money Needed for Phoenix Schools, Says Councilman Sal DiCiccio

Phoenix voters will vote on August 25, 2015, to approve or disapprove Proposition 104. The proposal would, among other things, provide for a light rail system in Phoenix and impose a tax to support the system. There are strong proponents and opponents of the proposal. Phoenix city councilman Sal DiCiccio is one of the opponents. He explains his concerns in this report.

Sal DiCiccio

Sal DiCiccio

Proponents suggest that the light rail system will improve the quality of life in the metropolitan area, but Councilman DiCiccio says that the proposal will only benefit the developers along the light rail line. The proposal, he says is a $31 billion tax and spend proposal for the City of Phoenix. The light rail will cost taxpayers $161 million per mile to build and operate. The proposition is “literally a train tax.”

Councilman DiCiccio says that there is a discussion going on now whether the money should go into the educational system rather than into trains. The $31 billion, he says, would pay for over 200,000 new teacher in Phoenix.

As to where the $31 billion will come from, Councilman DiCiccio says that the answer is not clear. $18 billion will come from new taxes. Councilman DiCiccio notes that, several years ago, the city council committed taxpayers to pay for a new Sheraton hotel to the tune of $330 million. Today, the hotel is worth only $175 million. Since it opened, it has lost $38 million of taxpayer money, Councilman DiCiccio says, and the politicians who wanted the hotel now want the light rail.

As to operating costs, Councilman DiCiccio says that the train system will recover only 20-40% of its operating costs. The rest of the money will have to come from taxpayers on a continuing basis. And less than 1% of the population will actually ride the light rail. Councilman DiCiccio says that the light rail doesn’t make economic sense. He says what the city needs is money for education.

Sal DiCiccio is a member of the Phoenix, Arizona City Council, representing District 6. He was appointed to the District 6 seat on February 10, 2009, to serve a partial term, after former District 6 representative Greg Stanton was elected as Mayor of Phoenix. DiCiccio was elected to a full term in November 2009. He previously represented District 6 on city council from 1994 to 2002 His professional experience includes working on the staff of U.S. Senator John McCain. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.