Council votes to extend much-debated utility tax - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Council votes to extend much-debated utility tax

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Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

It looks like the utility tax is here to stay in Oro Valley.

The town council on March 4 agreed to renew the utility sales tax, a 2-percent levy placed on local gas, electric and water bills. The tax brings in an estimated $1.2 million a year, according to town officials.

Council members Paula Abbott, K.C. Carter and Bill Garner voted against extending the tax.

Council members Barry Gillaspie, Al Kunisch and Salette Latas joined with Mayor Paul Loomis to extend the tax.

Initially approved in 2006, the tax was scheduled to expire April 1. No expiration was applied to the renewed tax this time.

Few residents ventured to oppose renewal of the levy.

The two residents who urged the council not to renew the tax cited the rationale for passing the levy in 2006, namely that the money would help pay for 18 additional town employees.

“I think that we should look to reduce spending first, then talk about taxes,” Oro Valley resident John Musolf said.

Another resident opposed to the tax suggested that support for the levy in 2006 had caused former council members Helen Dankwerth and Terry Parish to lose their re-election bids last March.

“Two people who made the majority of who voted for it, got voted out of office quite dramatically in the last election,” said Art Segal, who operates a web site on Oro Valley politics.

Another resident seemed to take offense to Segal’s comments.

“I have read the Oro Valley L.O.V.E. blog, and I am here before you this evening to tell you that as a citizen of Oro Valley, I don’t appreciate the vocal minority … threatening the council members’ positions and speaking for me,” said Oro Valley police officer Wes Helvig.

Helvig also said the tax doesn’t place an undue burden on taxpayers.

The utility tax costs about $5 per household, while town officials estimate it grosses nearly $1.5 million annually.

Renewing the tax would bring an estimated $300,000 by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, Town Manager David Andrews said.

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