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Road repairs: Paving the way for more sales tax?

Administrator doubts Supes will approve
Posted at 11:12 AM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 20:44:11-04

TUCSON, Ariz.- -Pima County Supervisors moved closer to a vote on a sales tax hike for road repair Tuesday.

The county estimates the tax would raise about eight million dollars a year and cost an average family about 91 dollars a year.
But it's not clear Supervisors will choose the tax as the route to smoother roads.

We have heard from a lot of you that you are fed up about roads so rough they break your car.  But would you reach into your pocket to pay a half-cent for every dollar you spend?
The county says property tax doesn't raise anything close to the money to fix a deep backlog of road repairs.
A committee spent many months considering a half-cent jump in the sales tax to pay for road work. The committee recommends dropping a recent property tax boost for roads and replacing it with a half-cent sales that would last for ten years.  
The committee estimates the sales tax would cost an average family about 91 dollars a year.  But because sales taxes take a bigger share of low-income budgets the committee recommends using one percent of the sales tax income to help low-income families.
That made critics like Barney Brenner suspect the county will end up using the money for whatever it wants.

He says, “To build and maintain roads is one of the top responsibilities given by the state, and Pima County's an arm of the state, one of the top responsibilities, so you'd think it would one of the first things that gets funded but it's actually the last."
Supervisors told county staff to a draft a sales tax ordinance that they can consider.  
After more than 20 years as administrator, Chuck Huckelberry knows how to read the Supes. He thinks they may say no to the sales tax.

“Because it takes a unanimous vote of the Board and we've had at least one member, maybe two express concerns it's obviously unlikely that it'll occur.’  

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “If the Board doesn't go for it, what then?” 

Huckelberry: “We're back at square one and that's repairing roads with the 25 cent property tax which we've already said would take about 30 to 40 years."




Pima County Supervisors moved closer to a vote on a sales tax for road repair Tuesday.

They instructed county staff to prepare a draft ordinance that Supervisors may still fine tune based on their concerns.

Supervisors appointed a committee that spent many months considering a half-cent jump in the sales tax to cope with a huge backlog of crumbling roads.

Concerns about the tax burden on the public leads the proposal to call for dropping a recent property tax boost that was dedicated to raising money for roads.  That boost added 25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for property.

There are still concerns that while adding to the sales tax will help tap tourists to contribute to road maintenance, that higher sales tax will be the greatest burden on low income families.

That leads to parts of the proposal urging Supervisors to consider allocating one percent of the income from the half-cent sales tax to programs to assist low income households.

The suggestion of diverting sales tax revenue to something other than roads led to concerns by some members of the public and by Supervisor and sales tax advocate Steve Christy that sales tax money would be used for something other than roads.

A draft tax proposal should be ready for Supervisors' consideration and debate at the next board meeting April 17th.