Responsible Governance vs. Additional Debt and Taxes
In a recent memo County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry proposed a seven-cent increase in the primary property tax rate. Mr. Huckleberry suggests that this tax rate increase will be used as a “Band-Aide” to help fix the already crumbling streets in Pima County.
Supervisor Miller has provided a voice for the Pima County Taxpayers who would like to see road repairs take place, but not at an added cost to the exorbitant amounts they already pay in property taxes. Currently, Pima County ranks in the top 22 percent in terms of property tax rates around the country1. In terms of percentages of annual income, Pima County’s property tax rate ranks in the top 25 percent nationally.
Earlier this year, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved an increase of the primary property tax rate by 7.3 percent for FY 2014. Supervisor Miller voted against this increase, along with a recent request for a resolution for a 10-cent per gallon gas tax increase.
Citing concerns about the usage of tax revenue, Supervisor Miller stated, “There was a $45 million dollar surplus last year, what did we do with it? We gave an extra $15 million to the University of Arizona for graduate school medical education, making our total contribution to the program $30 million dollars for FY 2013.” Supervisor Miller has repeatedly expressed her apprehension when it comes to requests for tax increases because she has made it clear that she does not support the way Pima County has been allocating its money.
Since 1994, Pima County has had $641 million dollars in HURF funds available for road repair after paying down bond debt and the “HURF sweeps” (a mere 4 percent) from the State Legislature. Due to the state of the infrastructure within the county, it is clear that these remaining funds have not been properly allocated. For example, 72 percent of the roads within District One are considered to be in failing condition and 62 percent of the roads throughout the remainder of Pima County share this distinction.
Even with a budget surplus of $45 million last year, only $5 million has been set aside for road repair in the current fiscal year. Supervisor Miller believes that the issues with road condition are http://www.tax-rates.org/arizona/pima_county_property_taxnot a symptom of a lack of tax revenue, but are in fact a symptom of poor budget management and a lack of fiscal responsibility.
Supervisor Miller has stated she will oppose any future bonds for roads as suggested by Mr. Huckleberry given the current Pima County debt of $1.3-billion dollars, which amounts to greater than 3.5 times the debt of all other counties in Arizona combined.
(Editors Note: Ally Miller is a member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.)