County approves $1.5 million payment for flood-control project

2014-05-14T00:00:00Z County approves $1.5 million payment for flood-control projectBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima County has agreed to pay $1.5 million for a drainage improvement project done for the city of Tucson.

The Board of Supervisors gave the county Flood Control District approval to foot the bill for a box culvert drainage structure for the High School Wash project after the city declined to share the costs.

The board also gave the county staff permission to seek reimbursement costs from the Regional Transportation Authority.

In light of the city’s refusal to share the costs, the board also approved a measure requiring a legally enforceable contract entering into any future agreements with the city.

Supervisor Ramón Valadez issued a stern warning to the county staff regarding future partnerships with the city, saying the county keeps losing a “steady stream of money” during these endeavors.

In the past year, the two governments have clashed over costs for the new downtown courts building, relocation costs for water and sewer lines, and the widening of East Broadway.

The county originally agreed to cover the costs for the box culvert after the city asked for improvements to the structure last year to alleviate flood concerns in the North Fourth Avenue shopping area.

But at the time, the city estimated the cost would be $140,000 to increase the size of the box culvert from 8 by 10 feet to 10 by 12 feet, as well as build a series of storm drains near the structure and make other improvements.

However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is working with the county on the project, obtained an updated cost estimate from the project contractor last year for $1.2 million.

The higher cost is due to the excavation, shoring and other work needed to build a larger box culvert.

The county asked city officials share the cost, but the city said it has already contributed to the project by paying for multiple drainage improvements associated with the Regional Transportation Authority-funded Downtown Links project.

The project is the final phase of the 20-year-long Arroyo Chico flood control project, which was undertaken to alleviate flooding issues in neighborhoods in the east and central areas of Tucson.

$15 million a year
for UA to run S. side
hospital is approved

Pima County has extended an agreement to provide $30 million over the next two years for a south-side hospital operated by the University of Arizona Health Network.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to subsidize the former Kino Community Hospital at a cost of $15 million for each of the next two years.

Supervisor Ally Miller voted against the approval, saying the money could be better spent on services such as repairing roads.

The county’s money will be paired with matching funds from the federal government to support graduate medical education and help train new physicians at the hospital, now called University of Arizona Medical Center-South Campus.

The county operated the hospital before handing it over to University Health Physicians in 2004, with plans to subsidize the facility for 10 years.

The University of Arizona Health Network took over the hospital in 2010 after a merger between University Medical Center Corp. and University Physicians Healthcare.

County officials decided to continue to subsidize the hospital after both the county and the hospital deemed the partnership mutually beneficial.

University of Arizona Medical Center-South Campus has expanded and added numerous services within the last few years, including new family and community medicine clinics, a diabetes clinic, and a child and adolescent psychiatry physician office, according to hospital officials.

The facility has also added resident physicians and increased the number of surgical procedures performed, and physicians’ office and emergency room visits.

In addition, the hospital houses the largest behavioral health facility in Pima County, hospital officials said.

Rosemont environmental mitigation

The Board of Supervisors gave conditional approval to accept money from Rosemont Copper to compensate for the potential damage caused by putting water and electric lines through a sensitive riparian area.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to let Rosemont pay a $145,230 mitigation in lieu of developing a mitigation plan for the area flanking Santa Rita Road, which runs from Sahuarita to Helvetia Road on the west side of the Santa Rita Mountains.

Rosemont wants to build a proposed waterline and electrical distribution line that would run through more than 7 acres of riparian area, according to county documents.

Rosemont hired Westland Resources to assess the area, but the company found no suitable way to mitigate damage to the habitat, so Rosemont will pay the fee instead.

Miller voted against the measure, saying the board should have given final approval instead of making the approval conditional until Rosemont gets the federal permits it needs before starting construction.

The approval is contingent on Rosemont receiving two federal approvals, including a permit to dredge and fill washes and streams, before it can begin construction on the east side of the Santa Rita Mountains, southeast of Tucson

Rosemont President and CEO Rod Pace released a statement saying the company was pleased with the board’s decision to affirm the company’s recommendation.

“It is refreshing to see politics removed from a decision and the rules and statutes for Pima County applied fairly. Our staff looks forward to this effort of professionalism in our continued working relationship with Pima County,” Pace said.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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