State audit rebuffs Marana, clears Pima County bond program

2013-01-30T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T11:19:38Z State audit rebuffs Marana, clears Pima County bond programBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After a 10-month in-depth examination of Pima County's bond program finances, the state auditor general has issued the program a clean bill of health.

The results were made public Tuesday, and a public meeting is planned for Friday.

As part of an ongoing dispute with the county, Marana town leaders asked the Legislature to make a special audit mandatory.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he didn't think anything was wrong with the bond programs and said the clean audit proves the county bond programs are successful and financially sound.

Marana Mayor Ed Honea said he couldn't comment on the audit report because he hadn't seen it yet.

The auditor general's staff reviewed thousands of pages of information from the county related to more than 500 bond projects.

Though the findings fulfilled Huckelberry's prediction of no wrongdoing, he said the audit wasn't a waste of time or money.

"It was worthwhile because it verified what we've been saying," Huckelberry said, that the bond programs are "genuine, they're real and they make real improvements, and there's no financial mismanagement whatsoever."

While Marana officials alleged county bias against some jurisdictions, the audit report praised the county bond program as "uniquely collaborative" with local jurisdictions and found no evidence the county changed bond projects to "reward or punish" jurisdictions.

Honea said last year that he expected the audit to show Marana didn't receive its fair share of bond money. But the auditors found the taxes paid by the residents of the various jurisdictions "approximated the value of bond projects completed in or benefiting those jurisdictions."

Marana residents paid about 4.7 percent of the taxes collected for debt repayment and benefited from about 5.9 percent of the completed projects, including a population-based share of countywide projects, according to the audit report.

The special audit came in addition to regular audits by the state and semiannual audits by the county.

The special audit and a forthcoming performance audit may be used to help sell a future bond issue to voters.

The county's Bond Advisory Committee hadn't been meeting during the special audit, but earlier this month Huckelberry told the group a 2014 election is possible, depending on the economic and political climate.

The audits answer questions about how the money is spent and what community needs are met, Huckelberry said, and that contributes to voter confidence.

"They can pretty much be assured that what they vote for is what they're going to get," he said. "There won't be a bait-and-switch, they won't be shortchanged, they will receive what they anticipate they're going to achieve when they vote yes for a bond program."

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/politics to read more about local and state government and political news.

If you go

Bond program meeting

• When: 1:30 p.m. Friday

• Where: County administration building, 130 W. Congress, Board of Supervisors hearing room

• What: Hear from Arizona Auditor General Debbie Davenport and others about the bond program report

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.

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

Activate

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Event Calendar

Today's events | Add an event

Most viewed:


Get weekly ads via e-mail