Voters in Mesa are deciding today whether the city will levy its first property tax since the end of World War II with a ballot question to authorize $169.2 million of general obligation bonds for streets and public safety projects.
Approval of the bonds would trigger the imposition of a secondary property tax, with the revenue dedicated to supporting the GOs.
Mesa currently supports its GOs with profits from the city-owned utility system and sales tax revenues rather than through an ad valorem tax. The city will pay debt service of $27.5 million in fiscal 2009 on its outstanding GOs.
The city’s GOs are rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service.
The proposed tax would cost the owner of a home assessed at $250,000 less than $48 a year.
Despite the outcome, Mesa will remain as the largest city in the United States without a primary property tax. Voters rejected a primary property tax, which Arizona cities can use for operational expenses, in May 2006.
If the bonds are approved, the city would sell a $47 million tranche — with $33.8 million for streets and $13.2 million for public safety — in 2009. Mesa would complete the authorization in 2010 with a $122.2 million sale to provide $77.1 million for street projects and $45.1 million for public safety.
The public safety projects include $15 million for a new police station, $9 million for a new airport fire station, $8.6 million for an upgraded communications system, and $9.4 million for two new fire stations.