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Tucson Water rates issue draws line between county and city leaders

Posted at 10:16 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 01:16:37-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Rex Scott represents District 1 on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, it's entirely outside of the boundaries of the City of Tucson.

"They consider this to be, not only abrupt, but also extraordinarily unfair."

People in his district, he said, have shared their feelings on a proposed rate hike for water.

"There are some significant questions that have yet to be answered," said Michael Guymon, VP of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce which itself is part of the Tucson Regional Water Council.

He said the chamber of commerce will remain involved with this issue because it affects policy decisions made by a local government.

"Usually water rates are raised based on levels of cost of service."

That argument has been key to people who oppose raising the water rates in unincorporated Pima County, if it doesn't cost more to get water to customers, why raise the rates?

Supervisor Scott echoes this point discussing the rates charged for sewer services across the county, which falls under the authority of county leaders.

"We would never, ever charge rates to any of our customers inside the city or outside the city that exceed the cost of service."

The issue of annexing these communities, encouraging them to join other cities in the county or starting their own has also been a talking point.

"We think that this is an unfair approach and an uneven approach,"

The approach, Guymon described, of raising water rates to compel these areas to join Marana, Oro Valley or even the City of Tucson.

"We as the county are looking at all of our options if this decision is reached."

Scott said, right now, he can't discuss what options the county might take but that it's working with attorneys about what it can do if higher rates are approved.

Scot was asked if this issue sets up a potential gulf between county leaders and city leaders

"No, we can't allow that."

He said the county and city collaborate on too many issues affecting its residents to let this one divide them.