No, it is not Christmas in Pima County
On Monday, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry issued a memo announcing that he has earmarked $100,000 in this year’s Contingency Reserve to be used for the purpose of covering a revenue guarantee made by the Tucson Metro Chamber to American Airlines.
Huckelberry is recommending that the Pima County Board of Supervisors approve the release of the $100,000 gift to the company due to the fact that already it incurred a $455,279 shortfall as of October 2016 for its part of a guarantee scheme cooked by “the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce and Mr. Bill Assenmacher as a member of the Tucson Airport Authority Board of Directors.”
Across Pima County on any given day, families can be found holding car washes to fund the funerals of their beloved, or setting up Gofundme accounts to cover unexpected medical costs while their taxes are used to take the sting out of doing business by big business.
For one supervisor, Huckelberry’s gift to a mega-corporation is unacceptable. Supervisor Ally Miller is not only worried that once again Huckelberry is violating Arizona’s Gift Clause, she disputes his claim that the scheme was “our community’s guarantee.” “This was a contract between the Tucson Metro Chamber and American Airlines” stated Miller. “This “agreement” to a bailout was never brought before the Board of Supervisors, but that won’t stop Chuck Huckelberry from using taxpayer monies to bail out his cronies at the Tucson Metro Chamber. Direct flights from Tucson to New York aren’t sustainable given the current economic climate in Pima County. This isn’t the first time this scenario has played out. While there never seems to be money for roads, subsidizing the special interests continues with taxpayer money.”
Just last week, Huckelberry advised Catalina residents that there was not enough money to repair their roads. He dismissed their concerns by writing that the road conditions in Catalina “ are similar to the road conditions of other local roads in the unincorporated area of Pima County.” He concluded that few additional road repairs are in the future. The majority of the Board will repeat Huckelberry’s argument that subsiding the flights for wealthy tourist coming from New York will benefit Pima County residents.
The supervisors will not add that the meager benefits that might trickle down will mostly take the form of tips to starving waiters and waitresses and masseuses at Canyon Ranch and Miraval.
American Airlines really doesn’t need a donation from Pima County taxpayers. The company made $7.6 billion in profits in 2015. But they did slip a bit last year, to only their second-best-ever net profit – $2.7 billion.
It is highly unlikely that the Board of Supervisors will deny Huckelberry’s request. So while the residents will continue to have bumpy rides on the pothole filled streets, it will be clear sailing for American Airline stockholders.