Metro area stands to benefit from Vail incorporation

Our view: Tucson was right to endorse effort that would keep more tax dollars here
2013-02-24T00:00:00Z Metro area stands to benefit from Vail incorporation Arizona Daily Star
February 24, 2013 12:00 am

The Tucson City Council did the right thing last week by stating plainly that it won't oppose Vail's efforts to incorporate.

The vote Wednesday is a declaration of intent that demonstrates a regional approach by the council. It signals Tucson will not stand in the way of Vail incorporation, if residents there vote to become a municipality.

At that point, Vail would have to ask Tucson for an official resolution of support. The council's vote is an indicator support would be forthcoming.

This is the step where previous incorporation efforts by would-be towns in the metropolitan area - Casas Adobes and Tortolita - ran into a brick wall. The Tucson City Council of the late 1990s acted to stop those incorporations.

The Casas Adobes and Tortolita areas, both on the metro area's northwest side were sandwiched between Marana and Oro Valley. Residents wanted to stave off annexation by those towns, and incorporation would have allowed them to preserve their Pima County zoning and development requirements.

The state Legislature had created a legal window for areas like Casas Adobes and Tortolita to incorporate by suspending a longtime law that required nearby existing municipalities to give their permission for the incorporations. Tucson sued to stop the incorporations, and the battles lingered on.

In the end, neither Casas Adobes nor Tortolita survived to incorporate. The episode fomented bad blood among regions and municipalities in the metro area, and it's good to see the more practical approach winning.

Supporters of Vail incorporation have been working for three years to build momentum for their effort. They must now gather 10 percent of registered voters in Vail to get the issue on the August ballot.

The proposed town limits would span 43 square miles and have a population of about 11,500, according to reporting by the Star's Darren DaRonco.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild made the case for supporting incorporation and annexation - where an area joins an existing municipality - at his State of the City address last week.

State funding formulas favor residents in incorporated areas. In simple terms, that means a person who lives in, say, the town of Sahuarita, is worth more in tax dollars than a person who lives in unincorporated Pima County.

While no doubt Tucson would like to annex more of the region, and it's been working to do just that, it's to everyone's advantage to support incorporations like the one Vail is attempting.

Pima County residents, says Rothschild, are essentially giving $70 million in our tax dollars to other parts of the state each year - money that won't pay for our roads, police and fire service but is distributed to other towns and cities in Arizona.

It's good news, too, that representatives of Oro Valley, Marana, Sahuarita and Tucson are meeting regularly to discuss these issues.

Incorporation, or annexation, would keep more of our money in Pima County. Supporting it makes sense.

Arizona Daily Star

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