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Officials: Infrastructure plan no help locally

They worry it could force them to raise taxes
Posted at 7:36 PM, Feb 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-13 21:36:09-05

TUCSON, Ariz - Local governments struggling to fix crumbling roads and weakening bridges were hoping the White House would propose a plan to provide the money they need.  
But local officials say they can't count on much help from what the President proposed.

Finding funds to fix rough roads and rickety bridges is a long-standing priority for local governments.
This week President Trump unveiled a plan to improve that infrastructure. The White House plan calls for $1.5 Trillion.
$200 Billion would come from the Federal budget.  $1.3 Trillion would come from cities, counties, states and private companies. 

Up to now typical funding for a program that uses Federal money would be that the Federal government puts up 80 percent of the cost and local jurisdictions put up 20.  But this infrastructure plan would reverse that, asking local jurisdictions to cover 80 percent.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Pima Board of Supervisors Chair Richard Elias: “Is there any way the county could cover that?” 

Richard Elias: “Not as we sit right now.  What you see is probably a stop to a lot of major road building. It includes nothing for maintenance too."
Pima County Supervisors' Chair Richard Elias says the unwelcome alternative is asking local taxpayers to pay more property tax or sales tax, or convincing state lawmakers to raise the gas tax.  He thinks legislators will probably not be willing to raise the state gas tax.
Elias is not a fan of Republican Steve Christy's effort to raise road money with a half-cent boost to the sales tax.

Christy says local governments have to be ready to raise more of the money they need. 

"My position has always been that we have to find our local source of revenue for our own local problems.  We can not rely on the state.  We can't rely on the Federal Government.
A half-cent sales tax helps the Regional Transportation Authority work without many Federal dollars. Nathan Barrett is a transportation planner with Pima Association of Governments, which oversees the RTA.  He says, "For the most part the RTA projects that provide road widening, new bike lanes, etc, those are purely regional dollars."
Now it's up to Congress to decide what parts of the President's plan it will accept or reject.