I’m glad the Flagstaff City Council delayed giving direction to staff about whether to proceed with one of the two ballot questions recommended by the Transportation Tax Commission. This Citizens Tax Commission met eight times for two hours each and produced a recommendation that was in line with what staff expected. The members were given 13 presentations to help provide background for their decision-making.
Unfortunately, however, the Sustainability Commission wasn’t allowed to interact with the members of the Transportation Tax Commission in a meaningful way during the commission meetings. Its members were limited to three minutes per speaker during the public comment at the beginning of the meeting. This isn’t really an effective way to take input because it is a rigid format that doesn’t lend itself to meaningful conversation.
Meanwhile, even though the City is developing a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan in response to the City Council setting this as a goal in 2016, the Transportation Tax Commission didn’t have a serious discussion about the relationship between climate change and transportation infrastructure. In light of these serious deficiencies, I strongly suggest the Council hit the pause button and not put a transportation tax on the ballot until November 2020 and instead direct the staff to convene a new commission with members from the Sustainability Commission and the existing Transportation Tax Commission so they can think this through together and recommend ballot questions that reflect a broader set of values.