Cutting red tape, closing sales tax loopholes, and making city streets safer were all topics of discussion at Friday’s Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Committee meeting.
Cutting red tape
City Councilman Sal DiCiccio made an appearance at the meeting to give the group an update on the committee he is co-chairing with Councilman Tom Simplot to cut red tape at the city. DiCiccio believes the model he is proposing, which would make it possible to open a business in a matter of days or hours versus months, will make Phoenix the best place to do business.
When asked about safety concerns, DiCiccio said his new system would need the city to train and certify more architects and contractors in the private sector to keep up with the demand of getting things approved quickly. There would still be a core group of individuals in the city to approve the plans, for those who want that, but allowing the private sector to do more would allow it to move faster.
Senate Bill 1338
State Sen. John McComish went over the goals of a bill he is supporting, SB 1338, which would close a current tax loophole and force online retailers that have a presence in Arizona, like Amazon, to collect state sales tax.
McComish said he met with the vice president from Amazon when they were first working on the bill, and that Amazon is aware of the problem. He was told that rather than fixing the problem state by state, Amazon is waiting for a federal law to work its way through Congress.
“I think it’s a matter of fairness to the main street retailers and a matter of fairness for the state that a bill like this pass,” McComish said. “Eventually federal government will pass something, but I don’t think we should wait for eventually.”
McComish does not believe this bill would cost the state any jobs in distribution centers because many states are passing similar legislation. The bill recently passed out of Senate committee, but McComish is not sure if it will pass out of Senate and make it to the House. McComish believes some legislators have doubts about individual situations.
Kerry Wilcoxon with the city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department talked about the safety of streets in Ahwatukee Foothills. According to statistics collected by the city, crashes in Phoenix were at an all-time low in 2010 but were rising slightly in 2011, though those statistics are not fully collected.
Wilcoxon blamed the changes in crash numbers on the changes in the economy. When people have less money, they drive less, Wilcoxon said.
Naturally the street with the most crashes in Ahwatukee in 2010 was 48th Street. Wilcoxon said other streets in the city, like 35th Avenue, have between three to five times more crashes than 48th Street.
“Eighteen to 20 crashes a year, each one is a tragedy,” Wilcoxon said. “It’s a horrible thing to go through, but on some of my roads and intersections I have two crashes a week. I look at that and say yes, we are trying to monitor 48th Street like any other intersection.
“We’re installing LED lights. We’re constantly looking at our traffic signal timing. We are trying to expand our all red cycle so if people run a red light they won’t hit someone going the other way. We are putting out counting down signals so pedestrians know how much time they have before the light changes, and we’re trying to increase illumination out there so people can see each other. All of that is going on throughout the city, 48th Street is no exception.”
The next Public Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for April 6.
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