Prop. 409 OK'd by 953 votes, gives city money to fix roads

Prop. 409's passage means $20M per year for repair, beginning in '14
2012-11-20T00:00:00Z 2012-11-20T11:45:06Z Prop. 409 OK'd by 953 votes, gives city money to fix roadsDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 20, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The pothole that has annoyed you for years on your daily commute may finally be getting fixed.

Nearly two weeks after the polls closed, Tucson residents have given the green light to Proposition 409, the city's $100 million road bond.

On Sunday, the county counted about 11,000 provisional ballots and finally completed the last 566 provisional ballots Monday, nearly two weeks after Election Day. Those final tabulations provided the city bond proposal with an apparent 953-vote margin of victory.

Now that the bond has passed, the city will have $20 million a year annually, beginning in 2014, to repair about 31 percent of major roadways and collector streets, and 7 percent of residential streets.

While the major roadways are already decided, the residential streets to be repaired are still up in the air. A Citizens Bond Oversight Committee will decide those. The application process for that committee is now open.

To pay for the bonds, property owners will see an increase of $18 on every $100,000 of assessed value. City officials anticipate an interest rate of around 4 percent for the duration of the bond and expect to pay it off in 20 years after the last bond is issued in 2018.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said this is an indication that residents responded to the city's call for self-sufficiency when it came to road repair, rather than waiting on the Legislature to restore the millions of transportation dollars it has cut over the years.

"If we don't invest in ourselves, nobody else will," Rothschild said at an afternoon press conference.

Rothschild said he takes the trust voters have shown toward the city seriously, and promised city officials will keep a watchful eye on how the money is spent.

"The city of Tucson is going to earn the trust the people of Tucson have placed in it to do this work as promised," he said.

Although the margin was less than 1 percent, City Manager Richard Miranda said voters sent a clear message they want a government that works to improve the community.

"This vote to me provides the platform that goes beyond just street maintenance," Miranda said during the press conference. "To me it's a vote from our citizenry that is providing a demand to us, that as leaders of the organization we provide improvement and enhancements in the quality of life in our communities."

He said the voters' approval shows civic pride is alive and well in the Old Pueblo, and that well-maintained streets and infrastructure can bolster that pride.

"Our community members want a city they can take pride in. They want to be able to say to others: 'This is my community. This is my town, and I love it,'" Miranda said.

City Councilman Steve Kozachik, who opposed the bond, said this vote shouldn't be misinterpreted as a free pass from the voters so the city can resume its prodigal ways of the past.

"I was wrong. I thought the voters would reject the road bonds. But let's understand that this was a virtual dead heat and not a mandate to go off on a spending spree," Kozachik wrote in an email. "The burden now shifts to the city to make sure every penny is spent the way it has been promised, that the Bond Oversight Committee is involved with each of the decisions related to both spending and where the work is going to be done, and that we continue to use our HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund) dollars for maintenance that we would have been doing even if the bonds had failed. One-half of the voters didn't want this, and 100 percent of them expect it to be done right and aboveboard, so I'll be just one of 500,000 watchdogs on this."

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com

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