Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman Will Also Urge Council to Oppose CityNorth

One day after the Scottsdale City Council voted to oppose the city of Phoenix's $97 million CityNorth subsidy, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said he'll ask his Council to consider taking the same action.

Challenged by the Goldwater Institute as unconstitutional, the tax giveaway was struck down by the appellate court. The city of Phoenix is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to review the appellate decision and let it give away zillions of our tax dollars -- and, last month, the city enlisted the Arizona League of Cities and Towns to file a brief in support of its position.

But Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane criticized that decision to his City Council on Tuesday, noting that the League never polled its membership or asked for a vote of its executive board. The Scottsdale City Council agreed to file an amicus brief opposing Phoenix's position, partly to clarify that the League doesn't speak for all cities on this issue.

Reached by phone last night, Tempe Mayor Hallman said that he shares Lane's concerns.

"It saddens me when on an issue with this amount of controversy, a side is so quickly selected by an organization that professes to speak for the collective," Hallman told New Times. "We obviously have different opinions among the cities on the policy of subsidies, generally -- but also to the extent in which Phoenix may have gone too far."

The city of Phoenix's 11-year tax giveaway for CityNorth came under heavy criticism because it gave away so much tax revenue for a fairly spurious purpose: The city's money supposedly was to subsidize a parking garage that could be used by public transit users. In reality, no spaces were earmarked for that purpose -- and even Phoenix sources admit that the cash infusion was really to help CityNorth woo big retailers away from a competing development in Scottsdale.

Hallman said he'll ask the City Attorney to discuss the possibility of an amicus brief in executive session May 28.

The Supreme Court is set to announce its decision in early June. Scottsdale has voted to file its brief opposing the subsidy only if the Supreme Court decides to take the case; looking at the timing of its meeting, Tempe would almost certainly have to follow suit, should the Council agree to act.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske