Hayden's Law Enforcement Gambit
[From the Save Hayden webpage.]
"Until recently, Hayden's “Public Safety“ budget has been maintained at inadequate levels. To confront the problem, a “Citizen’s Task Force” was commissioned and the group put forth a proposal for a “Law Enforcement Levy" to be placed on the November ballot.
The advocates of this levy are anxious to promote it as a vote in favor of law-enforcement, justice, law-and-order, and democracy. Opponents “don't support law enforcement ”, and want to “taking away people's voice”. Evidently there is no acceptable reason for Hayden residents to oppose a city-wide tax increase.
Yet resistance remains. It may therefore be a good idea to clarify our position. We favor an increase in Hayden’s contribution to the Sheriff's department, but believe that the allocation should come from the city’s general funds, NOT a levy.
The City has already tried to raise taxes to fund law enforcement TWICE, in 2018 and again in 2019. Both efforts failed. But this does not mean that citizens don’t want to fund Law Enforcement—it only means, they see no reason their taxes need to be increased to provide basic services. Residents don't see law enforcement as a "discretionary" item, and they don't want to be gamed by their city government.
To make a third attempt to tie Law Enforcement funding to a Tax increase is preposterous. What will the city do if the Levy Fails? Continue to provide inadequate funding? No of course not.
The current City Council has already committed to a $300K increase for 2022, and all four council members have vocally supported raising Hayden’s contribution to the Sheriff’s department. There is every reason to believe that the new council members intend to prioritize L.E. in future budgets, with or without Tax increases.
Why then put the residents of Hayden through the absurd drama of having to vote on a levy for law enforcement a third time?
It almost seems that city administrators are so determined to increase their Base Budget that they have kept Hayden’s “Public Safety” allocation artificially low in order to provide a plausible justification for raising taxes. “More Money for Law Enforcement” is a much more attractive motivator for raising taxes than Sewer upgrades, or remodeling City Hall. (Not hyperbole. Hayden plans to do a major remodel of City Hall; no levy required.)
There are other reasons that the proposed Levy appears to be a new attempt to raise Hayden city taxes using Law Enforcement as a Stalking Horse. Most interesting is the makeup of the “Citizen’s Task Force" that recommended the levy.
The Citizen’s Task Force
In March of 2022, Hayden city administrators *reconvened* a Citizen’s Task Force and asked them to study local crime statistics and to advise the city council regarding funding levels for law enforcement. It was agreed that the group would deliver its report on June 1st, well ahead of August budget discussions.
Most people without prior knowledge of Task Force activities did not expect them to suggest a Levy. Two previous levies had recently failed. Why risk another levy failure? Why not just suggest funding levels that city officials could use to provide from general funds?
But instead of providing the Council with information and suggestions prior to budget negotiations, the Task Force chose to barrel ahead with a levy request—at the last possible minute. They delayed their report until Mid-August and then demanded an immediate up/down vote by the city council on the issue of placing the levy on the November ballot. No time was allowed to suggest alternatives. Just impassioned pleas to “support law enforcement”, and “give people a voice” The histrionics were quite impressive!
Those council members who had not attended the Task Force meetings were blind-sided by the request, while those who had prior knowledge were supportive. The task force leaders wanted 100% support, and when a single council member dared to dissent, the grand-standing began in earnest.
Support of a tax increase was once again conflated with support of law enforcement. Anyone who opposed relying on a levy to fund deputies was branded as anti-law-enforcement, anti-democratic, and disrespectful of the work of the Citizens’ task force.
This confusing turn of events becomes understandable once one investigates the origin of the “Citizen’s Task Force”. What was obvious to “insiders”, but invisible to casual observers, was that the Task Force charged with advising the City on funding levels, was actually the same task force formed in 2019 to help the city promote an “increase the base budget from property taxes”. The group was originally commissioned as the “Citizen Task Force for Base Budget Needs” (CTFBBN), and its explicit purpose was to help the city justify a tax increase.
With a few minor changes in personnel, the “Citizen task force” that recommended a tax increase for Law Enforcement, was CTFBBN, a hand-picked group of pro-tax advocates, and their decision to demand a third Levy for Law Enforcement was inevitable.
HURA and the Dog that Didn't Bark
Another thing that troubles critics of Hayden's Law Enforcement Levy is that a leading Member of the “Citizen Task Force” that insisted on the Levy is a director of HURA, the Hayden Urban Renewal Agency. Redevelopment agencies, such as HURA are controversial because they redirect public tax dollars to benefit developers. HURA is funded directly by property taxes so having its Director lead a “Citizen’s Task Force” that recommends a tax increase for any purpose, is a screamingly obvious conflict of interest.
The whole topic of HURA and it relationship to Property Tax rates in Hayden is a complicated subject, but the fact that so many members of Hayden’s current government see no problem with this type of flagrant self-dealing is a HUGE red flag, with or without an L.E. Levy. The City Administrator and Council Members involved in the Task Force were well aware of how much HURA benefits from property tax increases, but were not concerned in the least. No one raised the issue. No one saw a problem. Which begs the question, what ELSE are your city officials NOT seeing.
Opposing the Levy is NOT Opposing Law Enforcement
It is a disservice to the City Council, to Sheriff Norris, and to the Citizens of Hayden to frame the vote on increasing property Taxes in Hayden as an up-or-down vote on supporting Law Enforcement. It is nothing of the sort. All members of the current City Council have expressed their willingness to increase support for law enforcement, and Hayden citizens should NOT have to choose between basic services and increased taxes.
The fact is, funding L.E. from a dedicated levy is not viable over the long term and it does not address the REAL Public Safety issues facing Hayden. Hayden's future need for law enforcement will depend on the type and rate of growth that the city undergoes. And over the long term, Hayden's biggest threat to “Public Safety” is the atrocious 2040 “Comprehensive Plan” that puts it on a collision course with many evils associated with rapid growth and densification.
Public Safety is More than Law Enforcement.
As long as Hayden remains a suburban-rural community, it can maintain is current low crime rate. But the new Comp Plan provides for a far denser and more threatening kind of growth that is unwanted by current residents. The proliferation of high density rentals, public transit, and “affordable housing”, is the quickest way to increase crime, weaken community, and increase the need for “social services” in an area, and the New Comp Plan is a greater threat to “Public Safety” in Hayden, than an understaffed sheriff’s department ever could be.
And to add insult to injury, this highly controversial “Plan” for wrecking Hayden was developed between 2018 and 2020 at a cost of over $500K, at the exact same time Hayden was under funding law enforcement, and trying to raise Taxes. As the table below shows, all funds necessary to finance the new “Comp Plan” were transferred from the City’s “Public Works” Budget to “General Administration,” where it was used to pay an army of consultants, attorneys, and planners.
Strangely, the Hayden residents were never given a "chance to vote” on whether or not they wanted to pay globalist apparatchiks to ruin their city.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Hayden’s repugnant 2040 Comp Plan was paid for with monies that could have and should have gone to law enforcement, and it is almost certain that the same elements of Hayden City’s government who hijacked L.E. funds to pay for unwanted growth, are still up to their old tricks.
Don't play into their hands. Vote DOWN Hayden's Law Enforcement "Hostage" Levy, and force the City Council to do what is right to for the Sheriff and the citizens of Hayden.