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Arizonans to vote on tax refund for ‘public nuisance’ damages

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(The Center Square) – Arizonans will vote in November on whether or not individuals and businesses should get a tax refund for being negatively impacted by homelessness mismanagement.

According to the resolution’s summary, it would permit “a property owner to apply for a primary property tax refund if the owner documents expenses caused by a city, town or county adopting a policy, pattern or practice which declines to enforce existing laws or the maintaining of a public nuisance.”

The municipality will also get a notice with a month to respond on whether or not they will refund to the property owner, and for that owner to take further legal action if the municipality refuses to grant the refund, the summary further explains.

If approved, the measure would sunset in 2036.

House Concurrent Resolution 2023 passed the Republican majority legislature along party lines. The House version was sponsored by Speaker Ben Toma, whereas the Senate version that was later substituted was led by Senate President Warren Petersen.

“Arizonans have had enough when it comes to lawlessness and city inaction. Business owners and residents alike are having their property stolen, vandalized, or terrorized and are desperate for help,” Toma said in a statement. “That’s why I sponsored HCR 2023, to hold our local governments accountable to our community members and to help provide some relief for property owners who have suffered damages because of a city’s purposeful failure to provide the public health and safety services we all pay for.”

The Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank based in Phoenix, is one of the major supporters of the measure.

“Arizonans cannot trust the government to address rampant homelessness – we saw this firsthand in ‘The Zone’ in Phoenix, where law and order gave way to death and destruction as officials refused to enforce the law,” Goldwater President and CEO Victor Riches said in an exclusive statement to The Center Square on Tuesday.

“That’s why this ballot measure, the first of its kind in the nation, is so important. It ensures that bureaucrats can no longer get away with squandering the tax dollars of business and property owners when the government fails to do its job,” he added.

The institute took part in lawsuits getting the city of Phoenix to crack down on “The Zone,” which was a large homeless encampment in downtown Phoenix that the institute argued had a harmful impact on local businesses. Most of the encampment was cleared out in 2023 amid legal battles, but remnants of “The Zone” are still around today.

Statewide, the public and private sectors spend an estimated $1 billion on homelessness, The Center Square reported last week.

There are numerous concurrent resolutions that are expected be on the ballot in November, as Republicans are trying alternative methods of getting policy enacted without dealing with Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

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