Despite a ruling in Pima County Superior Court last week, in which Judge Woods ruled that Pima County had violated Arizona’s procurement law and the Gift Clause, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will likely approve the purchase of an expensive altitude test chamber for World View Enterprises today. The purchase is tucked away in the Supervisor’s Consent Agenda.
The Supervisor’s meeting is scheuled for 9:00 a.m. at 130 W. Congress Street, in downtown Tucson.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods struck down Pima County’s contract with World View last week. That contract requires taxpayers to foot the bill for World View’s new facility. The judge found that the County was required to have the building appraised, hold a public auction, and set the lease rate no lower than 90% of the appraised value.
The County ignored those requirements; therefore, the lease with World View will be cancelled.
Yet, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is forging ahead with an appeal and the latest massive purchase.
“I am shocked this would be on the board agenda for consideration given the ruling by Judge Woods last week, which struck down this lease as illegal under state law. There was barely enough time for the ink to dry on the Judge’s ruling before Chuck Huckelberry threw yet another curveball at the taxpayers of Pima County. You just can’t make this stuff up,” stated Supervisor Ally Miller.
The agenda items reads:
Amendment of Award : Contract No. CT-FM-16-241 , Amendment No. Seven (7). This amendment extends the term of the contract to February 28, 2018 without increase to the contract amount.
Administering Department: Facilities Management.
This Amendment allows for additional time to obtain and install an altitude test chamber intended to simulate the
conditions of space. This custom piece of equipment manufactured to the client’s specifications requires nine (9)
months of manufacturing time. The equipment was not ordered until the very end of the project to ensure that there
were sufficient funds within the budget to allow for the purchase. This equipment, which is integral to a portion of the operation, will be installed by the contractor once it arrives on site. World View has been occupying the facility since December 23, 2016.
Subsequent to approved Solicitation No. 206214 conducted pursuant to A.R.S. § 34-606, the Board of Supervisors approved award of contract on January 19, 2016, in an amount not to exceed $12,400,000.00 including fixtures and equipment and an $800,000.00 contingency for a contract term from January 19, 2016, through February 28, 2017.
The Board of Supervisors approved authority for the Procurement Director to sign all contracts and amendments within the dollar and term limits approved.
Amendment No. One (1) incorporated GMP-1, GMP-2 and GMP-3 in the amount of $4, 151 ,850.46.
Amendment No. Two (2) incorporated GMP-4 in the amount of $1 , 152, 134.32.
Amendment No. Three (3) incorporated GMP-5 in the amount of $90,691 .77.
Amendment No. Four (4) incorporated GMP-6 and GMP-7 in the amount of $6,771 ,856.84.
Change Order No. Five (5) facilitated the addition of a humidification system and landscaping and increased the contract amount by $131 ,651.02.
Amendment No. Six (6) reallocated Contractor Contingency funds amongst GMP Nos. 1-7 to an Owner’s
Contingency component in GMP No. 7.
The Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the County on behalf of Pima County taxpayers.
In November 2015, Pima County voters resoundingly rejected six ballot measures that proposed to let the County borrow hundreds of millions of dollars for economic development and tourism. Two months later, County officials secretly negotiated a deal to borrow $15 million to build World View’s headquarters, without taxpayer approval.
The deal used government-owned buildings as collateral to borrow money to build a 135,000 square-foot headquarters and balloon pad for World View. The company planned to charge $75,000 per balloon ride, but was only required to pay the County a fraction of the market lease rate for a custom-designed building.
The World View deal also violates the state constitution. The Arizona Constitution makes it illegal for the County to “give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any . . . corporation.” In Turken v. Gordon the Arizona Supreme Court decided that public expenditures must be for public purposes. The Court held that general economic improvement or potential job growth do not satisfy the Constitution.
The County conceded that it ignored Arizona laws that forbid counties from leasing land without auctioning it to the highest bidder. However, the County claimed economic development projects were exempt from this law. Judge Woods rejected that argument.