By Steve Christy

Last month’s Vail Voice allowed me the opportunity to announce to all of you the “Houghton Road Improvements – Interstate 10 south to the Andrada Polytechnic High School” project. This plan calls for widening Houghton Road to a divided four-lane configuration beginning just south of I-10. 

Since that time, a new formulation of road repair plans that could benefit District 4 and our Southeast Region has been “trial ballooned” by County Administrator Huckelberry. Its over-arching message is that however this plan (or plans) unfolds, county general fund revenues will be utilized for road repair and pavement rehabilitation. This is a monumental shift from previous road repair plans. Before, we were told that there was no money available from the general fund for road repair. 

The board of supervisors debated several road repair scenarios over almost two years, ranging from my RTA-in-Charge “Just Fix the Roads” plan to the issuance of bonds to generate the necessary funding to address our multi-hundred million-dollar road repair problem. No plan was passed or survived. Now a new twist has been added as the funding source is from the county’s general fund, which is funded by property taxes. 

The county’s general fund is the equivalent of your “household account,” and from where Pima County pays for its numerous operations and services. The question is one of fairness to those who live in Pima County and to those who live in an incorporated city or town. Should city residents taxes go to fixing roads out in the county and, should county residents taxes go to fixing roads in towns and city limits? 

In Mr. Huckelberry’s words, “Based on technical analysis and data for trip origin and destinations assigned to a county arterial and collector highway system at incorporated area boundaries; substantial city or town resident travel occurs on unincorporated arterial and collector highways. If at least 40 percent of the total travel is by a citizen of an incorporated place, such would allow the particular arterial or collector roadway to be eligible for an expenditure of property tax revenues for road repair and pavement rehabilitation.” 

In other, and more simple words, people who use county roads and live in a city should help pay for the repair of county roads, just like those people who live in the county and use city roads have been paying through road bonds and other taxes to maintain the repair of city roads. Our District 4 contributes more than $73,000,000 annually in property taxes to the county’s general fund, yet we have almost 350 miles of county roads with 63% of them in poor or failed condition. 

Further, our district is the “Playground of Pima County.” Residents throughout Pima County (and the world, for that matter) use our roads to recreate and visit tourist destinations like Mt. Lemmon, Colossal Cave, Madera Canyon, Canoa Ranch, the Titan Missile Museum and the National Parks. Repair, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the county roads that lead to these popular destinations should be considered everyone’s responsibility as everyone uses them. It’s not unlike county residents, who are still paying for the 1997 HURF Bonds, even though city residents have been the recipients of the city projects that were funded by these same bonds. 

There are still many layers and variations of this new road repair plan, or plans, yet to reveal themselves. Rest assured I will work diligently to secure road repair money that is fair and equitable for our distric 

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Steve Christy