Tucson voters pass sales tax increase - Tucson News Now

Tucson voters pass sales tax increase

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson residents have decided that the city will increase its sales tax rate by 1/2 percent to help pay for road repair and public safety.

Prop 101 was the only item on the ballot for the special election that ended Tuesday, May 16, but voters have been sending in ballots for weeks.

Early returns show that Prop 101 passed.

The sales tax is expected to raise $250 million over five years and the cost is about $3 per person per month.

Sixty percent of the funds will go toward the Tucson Police Department and the Tucson Fire Department to replace their replace aging fleets.

Jason Winsky, Government Affairs Director of the Tucson Police Officers Association released the following statement after Prop 101 passes: 

The Tucson Police Officers Association is extremely pleased with the overwhelming passage of Proposition 101. We want to thank the Tucson community for supporting us and giving us the tools we need to do our jobs. The passage of Prop 101 will greatly assist us in our mission to keep Tucson safe. 

TFD said more than half of its fire trucks have more than 100,000 miles – and as trucks get over that mile marker, they become more costly to maintain.

TPD had to pull nearly 30 cars from service over the past year because of safety concerns and being too expensive to fix.

Around $100 million will go to repairing Tucson streets.

[READ: City looks to Tucson voters to pay for road repairs]

In November 2012, voters approved a $100 million road program, with $17 million a year going toward major road upgrades and $3 million a year to residential neighborhood roads.

Come June 2018, that funding will run out.

In the new proposed program, $60 million a year will be spent on major roads and $40 million a year will go toward residential neighborhood roads.

The tax has opposition and supporters.

The Pima County Republican Party came out against it saying there are other ways to pay for them.

Leaders with the Pima County Republican Party don’t disagree with the idea of making sure roads are safe, but say the money needs to come from somewhere else.

“The city council has advocated its responsibilities and has gotten themselves in this position where they haven’t been funding the basic services, like police, fire and roads, instead of balancing the budget and providing for those services that are the very foundation. They have been putting those services off to the side and then they go to the taxpayers and say, ‘You guys bear the grunt’,” said David Eppihimer, chairman of the Pima County Republican Party.

He added he doesn't think it's fair.

"The party doesn’t think it’s fair to go to the voters for additional funds where it’s really a budget problem. Where it’s really a lack of control, a lack to bite the bullet and live within the cities means," he said.

The Tucson Chamber said better roads and increased public safety is good for business.

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