Pima County roads could be in for a $430 million tune-up under a five-year bond program that will go before voters this fall.
The plan would be paid for with property taxes without raising rates; instead, it would extend the existing rates that would otherwise begin to decrease over the next decade.
The new bond proposal was pitched as a last possible fix. The county has spent the past few years exploring other ways to fix roads throughout Pima County.
The $430 million proposal that will be on the ballot this fall is a scaled-down version of an $860 million, 10-year bond option put before the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
The decision to refer the scaled-down version to voters comes after a series of bonds worth about $815 million — including $160 million for road repairs — proposed in 2015, were rejected.
Since then, the number of Pima County streets rated as failing has continued to grow.
Supervisor Richard Elías believes it was the right decision to pursue the smaller $430 million proposal.
“I think it is a more reasonable question for the voters,” he said. “And at the end of five years we might have different revenue sources.”
He didn’t specify what those revenue sources could be, other than to acknowledge the Regional Transportation Authority could be involved.
The lone dissent came from Supervisor Ally Miller, who told her colleagues minutes before the vote on the proposal that they are not serious about reining in spending.
She unveiled a new spending plan, calling for across-the-board cuts for almost all county departments, as well as a hiring freeze.
Miller claimed that if her proposal were adopted in its entirety, it would reallocate more than $30 million that could be used to fix county roads.
But Elías blasted Miller’s plan, saying that if she were serious, she would have proposed it months ago.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry also cast cold water on Miller’s proposal, saying that some aspects of her plan like using revenues collected for the Kino Stadium District for road repair were probably illegal.
As part of the direction to the county staff to put the item on the ballot this fall, the supervisors also voted to repeal a 25-cent property tax that was set aside for road repair.
Supervisor Steve Christy, who earlier in the day voted against an $887 million road repair proposal fueled by a half-cent increase in the sales tax, said he liked the bond plan because it lets the voters — instead of the supervisors — decide.
Miller also voted against the sales tax on Tuesday.
The supervisors will review a finalized bond proposal next month, the last step before putting it on the November ballot.
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson
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