Currently, Pima County ranks in the top 22% in terms of property tax rates around the country. Pima County’s property tax rate ranks in the top 25% nationally in terms of percentages of annual income. Pima County Manager Chuck Huckelberry, until now, has not faced any vocal resistance from the Board.
In response to a recent memo from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, in which he proposed a $0.07 increase in the primary property tax rate, Supervisor Ally Miller is speaking out. As an elected representative of the people in the 8th poorest metropolitan area in the county, Miller is concerned about the increasing tax burden.
Earlier this year, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved an increase of the primary property tax rate by 7.3% for FY 2014. Miller voted against this increase, along with a recent request for a resolution for a 10 cent per gallon gas tax increase.
Her vote, and vocal resistance to extravagant taxing and spending, has been met with some resistance from other Board members, their staff, and their cronies who have benefited from a corrupt system for years.
“There was a $45 million dollar surplus last year, what did we do with it? We gave an extra $15 million to the University of Arizona for graduate school medical education, making our total contribution to the program $30 million dollars for FY 2013,” said Miller in a statement released on Wednesday. Miller was referring to the County’s decision to pay the cost of doctors’ education without any requirement that they commit to staying in the economically depressed area to serve its people.
Miller says she has made it clear that she does not support the way Pima County has been allocating its money.
Other communities across the country do offer incentives to physicians if they commit to staying in the area for a determined amount of time.
According to Miller, since 1994, Pima County has had $641 million dollars in HURF funds available for road repair after paying down bond debt and the “HURF sweeps” (a mere 4%) from the State Legislature. Due to the state of the infrastructure within the county, it is clear that these remaining funds have not been properly allocated. For example, 72% of the roads within District One are considered to be in failing condition, and 62% of the roads throughout the remainder of Pima County share this distinction.
On average, the County has received $33,736,842 in HURF funds per year since 1994. Even with a budget surplus of $45 million last year, the County Manager has only set aside $5 million for road repair in the current fiscal year, says Miller. She believes the issues with road conditions are not a symptom of a lack of tax revenue, but are, in fact, a symptom of poor budget management and a lack of fiscal responsibility.
Miller does not see any reason to support any future bonds for roads in light of the fact that the current Pima County debt of $1.3 billion is greater than 3.5 times the debt of all other counties in Arizona combined.