Our office has recently received numerous calls from District 4 constituents questioning their latest property tax statement. They have noted that the newly-instituted road property tax is a separate line item, and that yes, as they further note, property taxes as a result are higher.
You may remember from my previous columns that several months ago, the Board of Supervisors narrowly passed, by a 3 to 2 margin, a 25-cent/$100 assessed value property tax increase, which is dedicated to road repair throughout Pima County, both in the unincorporated areas of the county and within its cities and towns. Supervisor Ally Miller and I voted against this property tax increase plan for road repairs.
Late last month, all Supervisors received memos from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry that contained some very interesting points of information regarding the repairing of our roads. Mr. Huckelberry noted that the increase now listed on your latest property tax statement “highlights our local effort in road repair. Given the tax rate is the maximum allowed by statute, it represents the maximum effort of the county to raise road repair property taxes…it is still woefully inadequate in addressing the backlog of road repair needs in the county.” He goes on to state, “Using the present statutory maximum property tax levy for road repairs, means total repair of the roadways in the unincorporated area will require at least 35 years. However, the property tax allocations in the city of Tucson from the levy, based on assessed value, will leave no more than half of the local roads in the city unrepaired after 30 years.”
Mr. Huckelberry does not paint a very promising or positive picture of our current road repair attempt through the new property tax increase plan. This should serve as a reminder that we must realistically manage our expectations about how much impact this new road repair property tax will actually have. I have always stated that the amount of money that this newly raised property tax will actually generate is underwhelming. It comes nowhere close to what is really needed to adequately fix our roads. At the same time, there is talk of pursuing other possible revenue streams that can be dedicated to road repair. They include raising the gas tax; a “vehicle miles traveled tax”; a “special district” tax; and several other possible plans. All seem stubbornly difficult – if not impossible – to obtain or accomplish.
I am in the process of developing my own road repair plan. I believe my plan will be the most effective, fairest, and possible. I look forward to telling you about this plan soon.