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Glendale residents sue city over tax benefits for VAI Resort

By Tom Maxedon, Matthew Casey
Published: Sunday, November 19, 2023 - 7:45am

VAI Resort website.
The proposed VAI Resort in Glendale.

Glendale residents supported by a group called Worker Power have filed a lawsuit against Glendale, claiming the city’s proposed tax benefits for the future VAI Resort development violate the Arizona Constitution’s “gift clause.” 

Glendale has stated that it intends to give the VAI Resort a 25-year Government Property Lease Excise Tax, commonly known as a GPLET, exemption worth millions of dollars.

“We’re not against GPLETs and not against development," said Rachele Smith, communications organizer for the social welfare organization. "But I think that really our primary concern is that residents are factored into whatever the city is deciding because they’re [the residents] the ones who are really affected by it, right, and are going to be affected by it in the future.”

“The city of Glendale should be looking out for its residents and ensuring that every deal they enter into gives back to the community,” stated Brendan Walsh in a separate release. He's executive director of Worker Power and a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “The Gift Clause was enacted to create a balance, to even the economic playing field, between financial incentives given to corporations or individuals, and the public. The VAI Resorts deal goes against that. It’s not just that the public isn’t getting enough, they’re actually getting nothing at all.”

“Before I learned about this lawsuit, I thought that the resort deal was bad because of how much money was being given away. Now, I find out that what Glendale is doing is illegal. That is really upsetting because I expect the City Council to think about us, the people that elect them, but it feels like that’s not true,” stated Ana Martinez in the same release. She's a Glendale homeowner and plaintiff in the lawsuit. 

A spokesperson for Glendale issued a release to KJZZ on Friday saying “the city attorney’s office has not seen anything pertaining to a lawsuit, so Glendale doesn’t have anything to comment on at this point.” 

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