Flagstaff’s Special Election, is November 7, 2023. This is a Ballot-by-Mail Election and there will be no polling places on Election Day. All registered voters in the City of Flagstaff will automatically receive a ballot in the mail approximately three weeks prior to election day.
F3 has thoroughly reviewed the 20 propositions that will be on the ballot. We have created a Voter Guide to this year’s election. The summary of the Voter Guide is available in graphic form below. A description of the propositions, accompanied by F3’s reasoning for our voting recommendations follows.
Download PDF of the below graphic here.
Voting Guide: Friends of Flagstaff’s Future
November 2023 Election Ballot
Proposition 461: YES
This proposition will give the City Council the authority to lower the signature collection threshold for those who want to qualify to run for mayor or a council seat to 1,000 signatures rather than the current requirement of 5% of the vote from the last election. Last year’s signature requirement was 1,602, a higher number compared to previous years. Many candidates have had difficulty collecting the signatures or have been discouraged from running due to the high number of signatures required. F3 believes this proposition provides a good compromise.
Proposition 462: YES
This proposition increases the threshold for City contracts, purchases, and city improvements requiring Council approval from the amount of $50,000 or more, to $100,000 or more. F3 understands the increase of the dollar limit as proposed in this amendment addresses inflation and will make the purchasing and contract process more convenient for city staff. F3 has some concerns that this amendment may decrease transparency for Council and the public as the expenses below the $100,000 threshold will not be listed in Council agendas. It will be the City Manager’s responsibility to provide relevant updates to Council for City improvements under $100,000.
Proposition 463: NO
This proposition eliminates the current requirement that City Department Heads live within Flagstaff city limits. Department heads play a leadership role and oversee all of the department employees in the following departments: Community Development, Economic Vitality, Engineering, Flagstaff Fire Department, Parks, Recreation, Open Space & Events, Water Services, Public Works, Sustainability, and others. The city’s Flexible Work Schedule Directive
requires employees to live within the State of Arizona and requires physically reporting to work three days a week. However, the amendment language does not specify that the employees reside within Coconino County or within a specific geographical distance of the city. F3 is supportive of this charter amendment in principle, however, we believe that Department heads need to live within proximity of the city of Flagstaff so that they interact regularly with the city and its residents. Such interaction is possible while living in Kachina, Mountainaire, and Bellmont for instance. This proposition language is currently too broad in allowing an employee to live anywhere in the state of Arizona. For these reasons, F3 recommends a No vote on this proposition.
Proposition 464: YES
This proposition addresses procurement solicitation practices and updates specific language to bring it in line with current practices. This proposition simply cleans up the charter language.
Proposition 465: Yes
This proposition gives the City of Flagstaff discretion to sell or lease city property without having to only sell or lease to the highest bidder. Examples of property that the City already leases are Theatrikos, the Boys and Girls Club and the Murdoch Center. Future users that might benefit our community will now not have to worry about being outbid. The sections of this proposition defining the rules for selling property are not new but were moved to this section from another section of the charter to put all the requirements in one place.
Proposition 466: YES
This proposition updates procurement methods by updating terms. Similar to Proposition 464, this proposition cleans up the charter language.
Proposition 467: NO
This proposition gives the City Manager authority to establish personnel rules and regulations pertaining to employee status (appointments, promotions, demotions, discharges, and reinstatements.) F3 believes that there is great value in maintaining a relationship of checks and balances between the authority of the City Manager and that of City Council. We also believe that Council’s input on changes to the Employee Handbook is important and valuable and that City employees’ concerns regarding employment need to be able to be heard by Council. For these reasons, F3 recommends a no vote.
Proposition 468: NO
This proposition would allow the city to sell, purchase or exchange property, with the use of a resolution rather than an ordinance. A resolution does not require the 30-day waiting period that is required for an ordinance to take effect. A resolution also requires a council vote in only one council meeting, versus the two council meetings required to pass an ordinance. F3 believes that changing current requirements from an ordinance to a resolution negatively impacts the ability of Flagstaff residents to weigh in via public comments on city issues and council decisions. Our city does not have adequate media to alert residents of a resolution vote prior to that vote taking place. F3 has witnessed for some time that the majority of residents do not know of an issue and associated scheduled voting until after the first “read” of an ordinance. The one to two-week period between a first and second read of an ordinance provides the opportunity for increased public awareness and participation. For these reasons, F3 recommends a no vote.
Proposition 469: NO
City boards and commissions are established for the express purpose of providing Flagstaff residents a voice in city government. City commissions and boards make recommendations pertaining to the character and shape of the city and more often than not, these recommendations are related to how tax-payer money should be spent. While we recognize that those who live outside of city boundaries are often affected by city decisions, it is the case that non-residents do not pay property taxes and do not vote in City elections. For these reasons, F3 recommends a no vote on this proposition.
Proposition 470: NO
This proposition eliminates the current requirement that the City seek voter approval before spending more than a million dollars on purchasing or constructing municipal facilities like libraries, civic centers, or swimming pools. F3 opposes this proposition because it takes away the citizen’s ability to vote on large expenditures related to municipal facilities. Behind all large expenditures is the ever-present question, “What are our priorities as a community?” It is a question that should be determined by the public. Large local projects are underwritten by the tax dollars generated by the residents of Flagstaff and often shape the character of the community. Our current charter affirms the public’s right to determine the merit of such projects. F3 opposes the proposal to remove this authority from the public and recommends a No vote on this proposition.
Proposition 471: NO
This proposition eliminates the current restrictions on the City that require voter approval to issue debt using City tax revenues as collateral. Under the current charter, the city cannot pledge tax revenues as a guarantee for payment without a vote of the majority of the public. F3 opposes any change to the current policy. It is our position that the public should be able to weigh in on long-term debt commitments that will be paid for by the current and future citizens. Regardless of any inefficiencies that arise from having to put these decisions to public vote, it is more important that the public have a say in whether tax revenues shall be used to support the financing of municipal projects that require bonding. For these reasons, F3 recommends a No vote on this proposition.
Proposition 472: YES
This proposition brings the charter language into compliance with the state’s language. Similar to Propositions 464 and 466, this proposition simply cleans up the charter’s language.
Proposition 473: NO
Our current City Charter provides an option for the City Council to read an ordinance for the first time and the second time in the same meeting if there is unanimous consent of all council members present. This proposition would allow, with an affirmative vote of three-fourths of all members elected or appointed to the Council (6 of 7 council members), to decide to read an ordinance for the first and second time at the same meeting. Currently, Article 7 of the City Charter allows for three-fourths of the council to approve an ordinance at the same meeting only if it’s an “emergency measure,” defined as “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, in which the emergency is set forth and defined.” F3 believes the short waiting period (one to two-weeks) between the first and second read of an ordinance is important and should only be bypassed in rare instances of an emergency and then only with the unanimous support of the Council. It’s unfortunate that the current charter requires a unanimous vote of only those present but it’s rarely used, so is not of much concern to us. The requirement of a second read for an ordinance always allows additional time for the public to weigh in and we think this is good for citizen oversight of the Council.
Proposition 474: YES
This proposition asserts local control of the city as a budget and taxing authority. F3 believes this assertion is a good addition to the city’s charter.
Proposition 475: NO
This proposition changes the requirements for sale of the city’s personal property and increases the dollar thresholds from $500 to $1000 for selling such property without public notice. It also removes the current requirement to notify council about those items sold within that threshold. For transparency purposes, F3 believes that Council should continue to be advised of who purchases the city’s personal property and in what way disposal takes place. For these reasons, F3 recommends a no vote.
Proposition 476: YES
This proposition updates the requirements for printing physical copies of ordinances to reflect state laws. F3 approves of this proposition as it is merely clerical in nature.
Proposition 477: YES
This proposition eliminates the requirements regarding the moving of city operating cash expenses through a “Cash Basis Fund.” According to the City of Flagstaff this fund,established by ordinance in 1959 has not been used since 1967 and was rarely used before that. Since then accounting standards for U.S., state and local governments have been created and Flagstaff uses these to direct the city’s financial operations to ensure that our reserve funds are adequate. We agree that this fund which was always optional is no longer needed.
Proposition 478: YES
This proposition changes language regarding courts of Police Judge to Magistrate and Police Court to Municipal Court. These are merely updates to the charter to bring the language to current standards.
Proposition 479: YES
This proposition updates the “failure to vote ” language of the current charter allows a City Councilperson to declare a conflict of interest and be excused from voting. F3 believes this is an important amendment and its inclusion in the charter is necessary.
Proposition 480: NO
F3 recommends a No vote on this proposition. A No vote will overturn Council’s decision to rezone 98.39 acres, enabling Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) to vacate its campus on Hospital Hill and build a new complex adjacent to Fort Tuthill.
NAH has failed to adequately explain why the existing hospital cannot be renovated. The centerpiece of NAH’s own 2019 Strategic Plan was the renovation of its hospital facilities in Flagstaff and the Verde Valley. No explanation has been given for why this plan was abandoned.
Nationally, the vast majority of hospitals choose to renovate. The cost is substantially less than building new and advances in technology have made renovation more feasible than ever. A 2021 Hospital Construction Survey reported that “hospitals continue to focus primarily on renovation versus new construction and outpatient versus inpatient projects.” Renovation is also the most environmentally responsible choice: the greenest hospital is a renovated hospital.
Abandoning the existing hospital campus will seriously disrupt Flagstaff’s urban core, impacting adjacent neighborhoods and medical practices, many of which will have to move to the new location. It is likely that the hospital campus and surrounding medical offices will remain vacant for years. This is the classic pattern of urban sprawl: hollowing out the center in order to develop the edge. It is exactly what our Regional Plan has discouraged for years.
It is also likely that building a new $800M medical complex will result in healthcare and insurance costs, already among the highest in Arizona, to rise. It is certain that it will burden Flagstaff taxpayers with the costs of a new fire house and bus line and long-term maintenance of infrastructure. For these reasons, F3 urges a No vote on 480.