The Arizona Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling that declared Pima County's lease with space balloon company World View invalid.
The conservative Goldwater Institute sued the county over the $15 million deal in April 2016 for violating state law regarding appraisals, auctions and rental rates.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods sided with conservative group in February and moved to void the lease.
The Appeals Court ruled unanimously Thursday that county boards do not have to use a competitive bidding process when issuing leases that fit their economic development guidelines.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said it is a clear victory for county economic development and economic development efforts throughout the state of Arizona.
“The Goldwater Institute was off-base in attacking economic recovery in Pima County. While I can understand their opposition to sweetheart development deals in Maricopa County, they should keep their hands off the real job growth and economic development plans in Pima County,” he said.
Jim Manley, Goldwater’s lead attorney, said he was disappointed by the decision.
Competitive bidding helps guard against favoritism, fraud, and public waste, and by rejecting the necessity of this process, the Court has opened the door to greater government abuse,” said Manley. “We plan to appeal this decision to the state Supreme Court and continue the fight against sweetheart deals that put taxpayers on the hook to subsidize private profits.”