Huckelberry’s New Robbin’ Hood Road Tax Plan: A View From Rural Pima County

chuck huckelberry
Chuck Huckelberry [Pima County Facebook photo]

Pima County Administrator (and Avra Valley I-11 champion) Charles Huckelberry has proposed to the Pima County Board of Supervisors that property taxes from the General Fund be used for “priority” road repairs in the next budget. He says that most repairs will not be in the cities, but in rural Pima County.  Much of the proposed $53+ million would go to roads designated as “recreational gateways” for tourists.

Actual resident city-dwellers, according to news reports, are not happy with paying out for projects that do not directly benefit them. For working folks who live in double-wides out in the boonies because they couldn’t afford the city, that might sound okay, but a review of the plans shows little to nothing for them either.  Huckelberry states: “No local roads within the area of Pima County would qualify unless identified as a recreational gateway.”  (Emphasis added.)  Most of the proposed seals and overlays seem to be in more upscale East and North suburban areas.

1) No dirt roads will be on the list ever. I live in Picture Rocks, where most roads are dirt.

2) Most of Picture Rocks Road — a main way to jobs, shopping, town, I-10, etc. — gets a “Do Nothing” call.  This is also the road many tourists take to visit Saguaro National Park, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson and other area attractions.  That seems a flaw in Huckelberry’s Help the Tourists argument.  Anti-I-11 activists suspect retaliation for the local residents’ strong and vocal campaign to keep the “Huckelberry Highway” from destroying communities, jobs and wildlife.  The County Administrator has long-championed an Avra Valley I-11 in opposition to a BOS resolution opposing it.

  1. West Rudasill Road, from Sandario to Tula, is not on the list. Local residents have taken to filling in the gaping pot holes themselves.
  2. Little Tula Road, between Picture Rocks and Rudasill Roads springs big potholes with every rain and is “repaired” almost monthly is not on the list either. Tula Road is a bit of a shortcut for those who live in the south part of our 10,000 person community heading for Picture Rocks Road, going over the hill to work and shop.  But I forgot, this is a “take from the taxpayers to help the tourists” proposal.

See the memo and list (with his recommendations in the right-side column), at: http://webcms.pima.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_6/File/Government/Administration/CHHmemosFor%20Web/2019/January/Use%20of%20Property%20Tax%20and%20General%20Fund%20Revenues%20on%20Road%20Repair%20and%20Pavement%20Rehabilitation.pdf.

According to the Star’s Joe Ferguson in a February 5 story, Board of Supervisor’s Chair Richard Elias and District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson, with a large rural constituency, “have questions” and are not yet backing the plan.  Bronson said she is feeling a lot of heat from her many rural constituents.

Supervisor Steve Christy, on the other hand, likes the Huckelberry plan.  The position of Supervisor Ramon Valadez is not mentioned.  District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller is not mentioned either, but she has offered an Alternate Budget for the present one that could redirect over $31 million in the current budget to road repairs.  Her plan can be seen at: https://nebula.wsimg.com/4b4261204719c9e3124fe07be0083cc6?AccessKeyId=0CD53AB9AF33A15EDD9C&disposition=0&alloworigin=1.

The 2019-2020 budget discussions will begin soon and the public, which rejected over $400 million in road bonds in the 2015 bond election, will have a chance to be heard.  In the meantime however, positions are already being taken and supervisors should be hearing from constituents now.  “Questions” are not opposition, but “feeling the heat” before the 2020 BOS elections can make it so.  The budget would go into effect July 1, 2019, less than six months away.

About Albert Vetere Lannon 106 Articles
Albert grew up in the slums of New York, and moved to San Francisco when he was 21. He became a union official and labor educator after obtaining his high school GED in 1989 and earning three degrees at San Francisco State University – BA, Labor Studies; BA, Interdisciplinary Creative Arts; MA, History. He has published two books of history, Second String Red, a scholarly biography of my communist father (Lexington, 1999), and Fight or Be Slaves, a history of the Oakland-East Bay labor movement (University Press of America, 2000). Albert has published stories, poetry, essays and reviews in a variety of “little” magazines over the years. Albert retired to Tucson in 2001. He has won awards from the Arizona State Poetry Society and Society of Southwestern Authors.