Pima County officials last week set a spending limit of $1.43 billion for next fiscal year.
The figure represents the absolute maximum the county would spend on all budget areas in the 2011 budget year. Pima County Supervisors Ann Day and Ray Carroll voted against the budget ceiling, expressing concerns over primary and secondary property tax rates.
"We're still bringing in more money, however you talk about it," Day said.
Day wanted the board to reduce primary property tax rates to make up for proposed increases to the secondary rates. The proposed budget contains an increase to secondary property taxes of 8.57 cents.
Carroll also advocated for taxpayer relief, saying the county spending had increased incrementally over a decade.
"You all know property taxes have doubled in the last 10 years," Carroll said.
Carroll would have liked the county to ease the tax burden on people struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy.
Other board members who voted in favor of the budget cap took issue with Carroll's assessment of county spending.
"I think that some of us might be operating under misconceptions," Supervisor Richard Elías said.
Elías asked that County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry address some issues about the county's budget and spending.
According to Huckelberry, the county budget has grown by about 56 percent over the past decade. He also noted the population has grown, helping fuel a greater demand for government services.
The county administrator also said that Pima County's portion of state-shared revenue had fallen by $41 million over the last 10 years.
"I think we have been very prudent in how we've spent taxpayers' money," Huckelberry said.
The primary property tax rate was set to remain at $3.3133 per $100 assessed value. With the proposed increases in secondary rates, the total property tax rate would be $4.9674 per $100 assessed value.
Had Proposition 100 not passed — a measure to increase statewide sales taxes by 1 percent to help pay for education, public safety and health and human services — county officials had anticipated possible increases to primary property tax rates as well.
Much the proposed increase would have helped pay the cost to house prison inmates that the state intended to remand to county custody to serve out the final year of sentences.
"The state tax did pass, but it's just a Band-Aid," Supervisor Sharon Bronson said. She also expressed concerns that more cuts could come from the Legislature later.
Bronson, Elías and Supervisor Ramon Valadez all voted to approve the budget ceiling.