Tea Party livens up county budget hearing - Tucson News Now

Tea Party livens up county budget hearing

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By Bud Foster - email

The Pima County budget is $1,376,494,802.00 for 2010.

It was passed by the board of supervisors by a 3 to 2 vote. It was along partisan lines with the Republicans voting no and the Democrats voting yes.

Even with a property tax rate reduction of $.078 per $100, many homeowners will see an increase, some up to 4.5%, or about $14 on a $100,000 home. That's because the assessed valuation has gone up.

But that revenue stream is drying up. Assessed residential valuations next year could drop 20% in some places. On top of what happened this year and it's hard to imagine trying to put a budget in place next year.

But for homeowners, that could be good news.

Unless, the county raises property taxes substantially and there's no indication of that. But there's no sign they won't either.

"It's too early to say what next year is going to bring. There are too many uncertainties out there," says Democrat Sharon Bronson, supervisor from District 3.

But the Tucson Tea Party let county leaders know, they're watching and are not afraid to let their voices be heard.

A group of about 100 showed up at the supervisor's meeting to speak at the Truth in Taxation public hearing.

The county had to hold the hearing, the first in four years, because the general fund increased by $12 million. It was money the county had to put into Kino Hospital.

Still, the general fund  is at its lowest level in 12 years and the property tax rate, at $3.31, is the lowest in 30 years.

That didn't stop the Tea Party folks from adding their two cents.

"The proposed property tax is an abomination against the public," says Lou Tenny. who was one of the first to speak.

"To you a $100 or $200 doesn't seem like much to you, but it's everything to me. It's everything to me," says David Oman, a homeowner who is struggling.

"What you folks are hearing is the voice of angry Americans who are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore," says local activist Roy Warden.

Still, the county was adamant in pointing out, after the Tea Party people left, that the general fund and tax rate are actually decreasing.

"The general fund is going down $6.8 million. And the tax rate is going down $.078," Democrat Ramon Valadez said.

The new budget cuts Catalina Regional Park, several community centers and the graffiti abatement program, but the heavy lifting is yet to come.

"It's likely that most reductions as we enter and approach the next fiscal year with be 15%, says Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.  

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