The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
It is becoming obvious — and troubling — that the city of Tucson, rather than taking a proactive leadership position in Pima County, has chosen instead an adversarial and confrontational path when dealing with its regional partners. We are witnessing this on several fronts.
The tenor of communication leveled by Tucson’s mayor at the Pima Association of Governments has devolved into acrimonious, gauntlet-dropping demands. This same type of “line-in-the-sand” dialogue from Tucson’s elected leaders is being directed at the Regional Transportation Authority.
Further, City Council members are attempting to pull the rug out from under Pima County’s historic PAYGO road repair plan by utilizing outrage and melodrama.
And perhaps the most insidious campaign of all is the city’s efforts to inflict “differential water rates” upon Tucson Water customers living outside any city limits. If enacted, water rates for those customers could rise by up to 50%.
It seems Tucson’s only argument in its attempts to justify its conflict-provoking efforts and positions is centered on “fairness.” In other words, Tucson is giving, paying and sacrificing more in regional matters and costs and receiving less than any other jurisdiction in Pima County.
This is clearly not the case and is a topic worthy of another column to address the city’s perceived grievances.
Let’s focus on differential water rates. The city is instituting a three-pronged attack in this arena: annexation, social justice and thwarting development and growth. The city’s annexation ambitions can be achieved with messaging to those water customers who complain about their increased rates to simply allow themselves to be annexed, preferably and presumably, by the city of Tucson.
Social justice (cloaked as water equity) can be realized by using the surplus monies created by increasing the water rates of the “high-income families” living in Pima County to subsidize the water bills of the lower-income city residents.
And growth and development can be stopped by making water rates for developers so high that housing and business construction projects will not be economically viable.
You don’t believe this could be happening?
Just read the “Our Tucson Water” manifestos on Facebook. Review the April 5, Arizona Daily Star opinion column authored by Ed Hendel, a dissenting member of the City’s Water Advisory Commission. Then listen to the statements made during the April 6 Board of Supervisors meeting by two of my colleagues.
This is happening, and this is wrong.
Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy represents District 4, which spans from Mt. Lemmon through the Tanque Verde and Rincon valleys to Corona de Tucson, and west to Green Valley.