Pima County voters to decide on $430 million bond for road repair

Pima County voters to decide on $430 million bond for road repair
(Source: Tucson News Now)

GREEN VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Better roads may soon be a reality in Pima County.

In November, voters will get a chance approve a $430 million bond proposition to fix, maintain and repair the county's 1,800 miles of roads.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 3 voted 4-1 to send the bond question to the public.

"This item belongs squarely in front of voters," said District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy. "On the ballot and let voters decide, which is as it should be."

The only dissenting vote was Ally Miller, the Supervisor in District 1.

"I don't believe the voters in this community will approve a bond," she said. "I'm certainly not going to advocate for it."

The vote  follows a failed attempt to pass a half-cent sales tax which both Christy and Miller opposed.

That tax would have raised $800 million over 10 years to fix ailing roads.

The bond package will raise only about half what's needed to fix the 70% of county roads which are in poor or failing condition but it's thought it will have a better chance of passing.

"I'll vote for it," said James Nickell, who lives in the Tucson Foothills. "I have no problem with them doing a bond."

But he added, there is a sense of trust that must be met.

"If they do the bond and actually fix the roads and not take it somewhere else and spend it over here or for somebody else," he said. "But they go to fix the roads."

To impose a sales tax, state law requires the county board to have unanimous approval, which did not happen.

County officials have been reluctant in the past to pass bond measures to fix roads, arguing the life of the bond repayment outstrips the life of the road.

However, an expedited repayment schedule, close to pay as you go, will insure that is not the case with the road repair bonds if approved by voters.

The county will also use the RTA to audit the bond funds to make sure the money goes where it's supposed to go.

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