Pima County unveils sales tax to fix roads - Tucson News Now

Pima County unveils sales tax to fix roads

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County needs money to fix its roads.

It has three options to raise the cash which is somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million.

It can lobby the legislature for a 10 cent a gallon gas tax hike. But the legislature is not in the tax raising mood so that's likely a non starter for now.

It could raise the property taxes but the county already has one of the highest in the state so it's likely to infuriate the voters.

Or it could impose a one half cent sales tax which might find public support.

"I'd pay it," says Tucson resident Bob McKnight. "We need both construction and repair."

"That would be the logical way of funding it," says Safeway shopper Sally Bridges.

That's likely the most palatable option but even that has some obstacles standing it it's way.

The county board would have to approve it unanimously and that's not likely.

"It would be a minor miracle," says County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry,  "It'll be difficult."

So to sweeten the pot of sorts, the county would take half the $76 million it would raise to pay for road maintenance and repair and the other $38 million would be used to lower property taxes,

It's estimated it would save $73 on an average priced home.

Another big selling point is the sales tax revenue would come from several sources.

"A sales tax is exported to non residents who come here, who come here from Mexico to shop, to visitors from other states," Huckelberry says. "The residents here in Pima County would benefit from it because their either going to see their roads repaired or they're going to see their property taxes decrease."

There seems to be near universal opinion that the county roads set a bad example for residents, tourists and others who might be sizing up Tucson.

"If you have a big CEO coming in and if people could tell them that the roads are in bad shape but we have a plan to fix them, I think they would understand that," says Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio. "Unfortunately, we don't have a plan."

That's the ball Huckelberry is tossing to the board, options which are legally available to the board.

"We do have the will to solve the problem. It's just setting our mind to doing it," he says. But "it can't be done for free."

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