Pima County may get help to pass sales tax to fund road repair

Pima County may get help to pass sales tax to fund road repair

PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) - Pima County may have some help this year in getting a 1/2-cent sales tax passed.

As part of its 2017 agenda, The Association of County Governments will advocate for a rules change which would allow Pima County to approve the tax with a simple majority vote rather than a unanimous vote.

By no means is either one a guarantee, but it makes the task easier.

If approved, the tax would likely be used for road repair but also property tax relief.

The tax would raise $80-100 million per year. But it wouldn't last forever, probably around 10 years.

According to some estimate, Pima County need $1 billion in road repairs.

The sales tax could also be used to reduce property taxes, which are the highest in Arizona.

Pima County is the only county in Arizona that doesn't collect sales taxes, which explains why it relies on property taxes.

A plan being considered by the Sales Tax Review Committee would have the majority of taxes go to road repair in the early years. After that, the money would be shifted to easy the property tax burden.

A homeowner with a $145,000 mortgage would save $2,100 over time. According to county statistics, that would be offset by the $91 a year the sales tax increase would cost.

A typical $500,000 business would save $12,000.

Even if the county gets permission to pass the tax with a majority vote, that doesn't mean it will be passed.

"I have concerns," said District 5 Supervisor Richard Elias. "Who should pay and what is fair? Who has the money to pay and who does not have the money to pay?"

While homeowners would get a break, the sales tax would be distributed throughout the county and sales taxes are considered regressive.

But the question which is yet to be answered is whether this is a tax cut or increase.

"I don't think we know that yet," Elias said.

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