The open door for incorporation could be closed by the State Legislature in 2014. Maricopa’s cities do not want to share the state shared revenue pot with Vail or any other new communities.
I lobbied for Casa Adobes in the 90’s. Tucson opposed the new incorporation law. The City of Tucson sued and won. Casa Adobes was dissolved by the Courts. Today Tucson finally has a Mayor that realizes the advantages of building relationships instead of filing lawsuits. Mayor Rothschild is to be commended not only for his leadership but for his timing.
Today, there is an organized effort to stop the Vail incorporation. This group appears to be led by a local attorney that has lobbied for numerous local groups with strong financial support. Individuals tied to the Pro- Incorporation group will probably be labeled by the use of “hit pieces” just before the election to prevent them from having time to respond.
Vail’s organizational committee has done a commendable job under difficult conditions that have included willful roadblocks with incomplete data and misinformation from local bureaucrats and politicians. Evaluating technical information and bureaucrat data is difficult even for the politicians.
Contract cities have been springing up ACROSS THE US for the past twenty years. These cities are lean and mean in appearance with basic services only. They operate with very few employees, few pensions and few health insurance programs. They have limited equipment and municipal land, and are able to contract with private companies and/or with government agencies. Some County governmental offices can legally be independent contractors.
Every incorporation effort has some resistance and opposition within their area, but seldom have they had organized, outside funded opponents. Vail is the prime target because of the numerous communities in Pima County that could also seek to incorporate including the following:
|Communities||Population||State Shared Revenue|
|Casa Adobes||66,795||$ 18,865,000.00|
|Catalina Foothills||50,796||$ 14,346,820.00|
|Drexel Heights||27,749||$ 7,837,427.00|
|Flowing Wells||16,419||$ 4,637,382.00|
These numbers scare the opposition and rightfully so.
County government was never intended to serve urban communities. It is expensive and they receive no additional state shared revenue for such services. If Pima County provided the same services to an additional 250,000 residents in the unincorporated communities such as Green Valley, Pima county property taxes would be so severe that market real estate values would decline. Just ask your realtor!
Tucson’s mountain to mountain philosophy pushed the county to offer “municipal type services”.
If the incorporation goes thru, Pima County government would have to make adjustments in their long term planning, excess labor force, surplus equipment, etc. Pima County doesn’t have the option of a “going out of business sale”.
If a number of incorporations took place in the same financial year; the county’s loss of state shared revenue could force the county to raise property taxes. The problem of state shared revenue loss by the county would be an issue each time there was a proposed incorporation within the County. There are important lessons for new incorporations and the existing cities in Pima County to consider after the turmoil of the past 30 or more years.
The waste of finances, resources, time, lawsuits, and productive energy of government employees by political leadership in this community is absurd. Governmental bodies must find a common ground of respect for each other’s responsibilities and goals to meet the needs of their citizens.
I support the Vail incorporation. Local people making local decisions. Zoning for an adult bookstore or a chicken ranch backing up to a school are prime examples of why incorporation protects local zoning. The Vail community needs to set their own priorities not let the county’s bureaucrats make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The Committee‘s proposals are on the right track to have a successful contract city. Mr. Huckelberry is a skillful administrator that can adjust to complicated issues that new incorporations bring to the political table.
By Ted Poelstra