HURF And VLT Distributions To Pima County Reach Record Breaking Levels

Despite my best efforts, and the fact that gas tax and vehicle registration/license tax distributions back to Pima County reached a record breaking level, too many of our roads will continue to decline as our taxes increase.

On August 19, 2019, the Pima County Board of Supervisors formally approved a budget of more than $1.3 billion for this year, which included a tax increase.

The increase in taxes is due to the fact that property valuations increased. The Board would have had to cut the tax rates to prevent your property taxes from increasing. That did NOT happen and as a result, the majority of taxpayers in Pima County will see another property tax increase on their next property tax bill.

Fiscal Year 2019 ended on June 30, 2019 and the State of Arizona distributions to jurisdictions from the gas tax, known as HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund), and VLT (Vehicle Registration/License Tax) show record breaking numbers.

As you can see, $95.6 million was distributed by the state of Arizona to unincorporated Pima County. The total for all jurisdictions within Pima County total $187.6 million dollars. That is in just 1 year!

vlt hurf distributions
*Source:  Arizona Treasurer Department Website

Over the prior ten year period, unincorporated Pima County received more than $77 million per year. All jurisdictions received more than $1.5 billion during that 10 year period. This doesn’t include the RTA half-cent countywide sales tax which brings in millions each year.

In the current fiscal year (FY 2020) Pima County has budgeted $26 million for pavement preservation. This is the most ever allocated since I was elected to office in 2012.

You may recall when the director of the Transportation Department spoke at a budget hearing in 2015 and stated that 97 percent of her department budget was funded by HURF/VLT revenues. In that same hearing, she stated they had budgeted $0 for pavement preservation.

I have long argued that it made no sense to grow the Transportation Department to a size which required all of our road repair funds to be spent on salaries and overhead expenses. Last year, the County downsized the Transportation Department for a permanent savings of $15 million per year. This is a good start. More efficiencies need to be found. Pima County outsources pavement preservation and it is time to find efficiencies in all departments within Pima County and use these funds for roads.

While we are told the county is cash strapped and unable to fix roads, the crony deals continue.  County buildings are being mortgaged to fund nonessential projects and provide gifts or loans for favored developers.

  • University of Arizona $13.5 million in tenant improvements at the historic courthouse
  • University of Arizona $18 million (gift) for education for medical students
  • $16 million loan to Diamond Ventures for Rocking K development
  • Millions of taxpayer dollars invested in the Kino stadium
  • Millions of taxpayer dollars invested in the historic courthouse

I’ve often heard board members state “We can walk and chew gum at the same time”. I beg to differ. We clearly aren’t focusing on one of the biggest factors hurting our economy and that is the roads.

You were also told that bonds were the way to get our roads fixed. Recall the 1997 HURF road bond of $350 million that voters approved by election. According to administrator Huckelberry, that bond has cost us $89 million in interest costs and the county has finally just issued all of those bonds.


Click here to read entire memo

I am against issuing bonds for road repair due to the extremely high interest costs as well as the more than 22 years it took to issue these bonds. Road maintenance shouldn’t be an after thought. Throwing an infusion of money at roads every 10 years is mismanagement at best. Roads must be prioritized and funded properly each year.

Again, this year, the county administrator and board majority are advocating for an increased tax on gasoline. The rationale for the gas tax increase is that we haven’t had a gas tax increase in many, many years. Using that logic, one could argue we haven’t had a gas tax decrease in that many years either. While it may be true that we haven’t had a gas tax increase, it is also true that Pima County taxpayers have the highest property tax rate in the state of Arizona. It is also true that the state imposed a new tax that began January 1, 2019, of $32 on every vehicle that is registered in the state of Arizona which will cause a significant increase in our VLT distributions for fiscal year 2020.

During the final tax levy hearing on Aug. 19th, 2019, I identified more than $58 million for budgeted but vacant positions in the current budget. I also analyzed the amount realized as a result of not filling these positions each year. $39 million was realized in the last fiscal year that ended June 30th. $39 million is the amount left over at the end of the year as these positions were NOT filled.

Ask yourself why only $26 million of the $95.6 million is being allocated to roads. Until the board of supervisors gets serious about fixing roads and allocates at least 80% of the HURF/VLT monies to road repair and until this board cuts the budgeted vacant positions and uses these monies for roads, I will not support a gas tax increase that enables more bad behavior.  It is time the Board of Supervisors makes the roads the #1 priority and demonstrates that focus to the taxpayers. Increasing gas taxes would simply give the Board of Supervisors  more money to mismanage.

 

13 Comments

  1. Is there an accounting of the entire 187 million? There must be a public record somewhere! Can Ms Miller get the records and start publishing the information on social media?

    The mismanagement of these funds has to be highlighted. We live on a dirt road that is not maintained by the county. The paved road that leads to our street has more pot holes and patching than anything else.

  2. And we’ll still have record crappy roads and infrastructure here in keep Pima crappy while taxing us to death that will take gross yearly revenue for years to even catch up to where we paid to be already, over and over and over.

    I’m thinking the pension black hole is sucking so hard, it’s actually making its own pot holes, let’s just call it the tax payer tax incinerator

  3. Oh, please, stop the whining and get with it. Crumbling roads are the objective. If you have good roads white males use them and kill the planet. We need millions more for more soccer fields to attract the number one resource to exploit that will propel Tucson through the next millennia. 20k per head per year. Tucson could be the next Savannah!

    Make Arizona Mexico Again!

    • Sadly, a bond vote won’t matter one way or the other because Huckleberry will just do it anyway…we’ve seen that happen a number of times.

  4. So more than 47 million bucks tossed out for 5 projects that don’t benefit me at all courtesy of the majority of County Stuporvisors. Surprise… surprise… surprise. And more tax increases…. time to move again I guess…

  5. Thank you Ally We really appreciate all you do or try to do. We have to get Ally some help. Vote like your safety depends on it!

  6. Thanks Ally – the only taxpayers friend on the BOS. In Pima County’s case it takes more than a village. The village has been voting for these same jokers for decades. It takes getting up off our collective butts and working neighborhoods by educating people. Some people are unteachable but there are a lot out there that don’t have a clue. We are being Californicated and it shows.

  7. Just curious, is this the only publication I can read articles like this? BTW…thanks Ally and ADI but my point is, EVERYONE in Pima County should be reading or hearing about this stuff.

    • Yes, Scott, ADI IS the ONLY media covering these debacles. The stories are there for every REAL journalist to chase, but there are NO real journalists left in this god-forsaken state except on ADI – and it has changed since Mr. Hunnicut passed away last year. What a star he was; RIP.

  8. Thanks Ally once again for being the voice of fiscal management for pima county residents. We can only hope that when elections are held all the other supervisors are replace with educated and dedicated public servants like you. I hope we can form a coalition of thoughtful citizens who will join across all party lines to support the replacement of huckelberry’s pawns elias, bronson, validaz and christy so we can finally fire huckelberry, who uses county residents taxes for crony, corporate and UA business and probably lines his own pockets. He is a disgrace. Anybody out there interested in forming a citizen action committee to identify and elect smart and dedicated supervisors like Ally? We defeated huckelberry once on his bonds package. We can do it again, but it take a village to get it done.

    • Bless Ally Miller’s heart, she’s all we have and she is loved by many, she really needs help, I’m thinking we also need a tax payer lobby along with a citizens action committee since the elected for the most are not in our corner, but actually our foe, excluding Ally Miller of course.

Comments are closed.