Elected Libertarian Levi Tappan working to cut city spending and taxes

Libertarian Levi Tappan, City Councilman, Page, AZSince winning his election for city council in Page, Ariz., on May 21, 2013, Libertarian Levi Tappan has been moving fast to promote economic growth by cutting government spending and taxes.

Tappan played a key role in eliminating the town’s water development fee, which all homeowners must pay when they sign up for new water service. This saves them each from $200 to $1,500.

“There was serious debate on the city council,” he said. “A couple of members wanted to keep the fee. I eventually helped convince them to get rid of it.”

Tappan aims to stop the constantly rising cost of city government and to “make sure it’s decreasing, not increasing.” Although the population of Page has been stagnant during the last 10 years, the city’s budget had ballooned from $15 million to almost $28 million, then been brought back down to $20 million.

Last year, Tappan’s predecessors on the council crafted a further $2 million reduction in the budget that Tappan voted for just after his election, bringing the total down to $17.9 million. He wants to cut it even more.

“We’ll be looking for places to cut each department individually,” Tappan said.

He credits the outgoing city manager for helping to cut the budget, and is busy looking for a replacement who will be as fiscally prudent.

City bonds now cost taxpayers $1.2 million per year to service. After they’re paid off, Tappan aims to reduce spending and taxes rather than leave those funds in city coffers. The city’s 10.75 percent sales tax is one target, 3 percent of which is levied by the city.

“When we’re done paying off bonds, I aim to cut either the sales tax or other fees to reduce government spending,” he said.

Tappan notes fire and police retirement benefits are “a huge cost to taxpayers.”

State law currently requires cities to participate in and pay for the Arizona State Retirement System, which is controlled by state lawmakers. Tappan says he will “push for our city attorney to work with other town and city attorneys in the state to enact legislation that allows local control of government employee retirements.”

If successful, he aims to move government retirees to a 457(b) plan, similar to a 401(k), and bring government pensions in line with the private sector.

Tappan said that privatizing some money-losing facilities like the municipal golf course and a city-owned sports complex, as well as reining in routinely excessive police overtime requests, are obvious ways to cut spending. He is currently working with the local schools to share responsibility and cost of the recreation department.

He also wants to remove unneeded city ordinances and fight to prevent others on the council from adding a local levy to the property tax already collected by the county.

Tappan won the highest vote total among six candidates competing for three open city council seats. During the March 12 primary, he finished second in a field of 10 candidates, which included prominent local businessmen and members of the community.

“I hope my victory brings more youth to pay attention to the policies that affect all of us,” Tappan wrote on his Facebook campaign page. “I see more Libertarians coming out every day.”

Tappan credits his campaigning door-to-door throughout the city for his election.

Tappan, a Marine who works as a sonographer at the local hospital, believes that his decisive victory on Election Day represents a mandate from Page voters.

“From my numbers, it sounds like the citizens liked my ideas for cutting costs, so that’s what I’m going to go with,” he said.