Pima County passes $1.2 billion budget - Tucson News Now

Pima County passes $1.2 billion budget

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

Pima County narrowly passed a $1.26 billion tentative budget on Tuesday, May 23, that calls for a small tax increase to pay to fix county neighborhood roads. 

The vote for passage was 3-2 along party lines.

A tentative budget means the ceiling can be lowered but it cannot be raised.

The county has until June 20 to make changes when a formal budget is scheduled to be passed.

The tax rate is expected to be $5.97 per $100 assessed valuation. Included in that is a 14-cent increase to pay for road repairs.

It will raise just shy of $20 million annually for the next five years. The money will be targeted at neighborhood roads and streets, some of which have been neglected for 30 years. 

That tax increase is slated to be revenue-neutral in the final four years, offset by an increase in home values.

The county supervisors did not appear happy to be raising property taxes to pay for road repair and some expressed support for a sales tax.

"I much prefer sales tax revenue rather than a property tax," District One Supervisor Ally Miller said. "That to me is a more equitable way."

The idea of a half-cent sales tax was floated during the search for revenues but never progressed beyond the talk phase. 

Some who spoke before the vote went a step further in suggesting a 2 percent sales tax.

"We are the only county in the state without a sales tax in Arizona," said Steve Huffman, of the Tucson Board of Realtors. "I think it's fairer."

The county has estimated a 2 percent sales tax would generate $70 million which would be used to offset property taxes that are the highest in the state. 

"Everybody that uses the roads would pay for it, not just the homeowners and business people," Huffman said.

When asked if she would support a sales tax Miller said, "I am negotiable on that and I'm willing to look at that."

It would take a unanimous vote of the board to impose the sales tax.

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