The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed unanimously a plan to repair the County’s failing road system in 10 years. The vote comes after Supervisor Ally Miller demonstrated during the budget process earlier this year that funds were available without the need to raise taxes or cut services.
Miller thanked Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry for his Pay-As-You-Go plan (PAYGO) which will provide an additional $10 million for road repairs in the next fiscal year, FY 2021. $36 million has been allocated to road repairs this fiscal year utilizing year fund balances largely due to the funded but vacant positions Miller exposed during the budget hearings.
During a discussion of the plan on Tuesday, Miller questioned why Huckelberry did not choose to do more road repairs sooner rather than later as opposed to the accepted plan which repairs more roads at a later date. The funds are available, and over 90 percent of the County’s unincorporated roads are in failing condition. However, any alteration of the plan or delay of the vote might have delayed repairs longer which was something that Miller wanted to avoid. Miller emphasized that the current plan provided by Huckelberry in his November 5, 2019 memorandum shows it will take an average of $47.8 million per year for the next 11 years to bring 99% of the roads in Pima county to a rating of “Very Good.”
Unincorporated Pima County received close to $96 million in HURF/VLT funds in FY 2019 which ended June 30th. “We simply need to use those funds where they were intended to be used. This demonstrates there is no need to raise sales taxes, float bonds or increase gas taxes,” stated Miller.
In FY 2021 $10 million of PAYGO funds will be used for road repairs while more than $11 million will go to fund other capital improvement projects identified in the Integrated Infrastructure Plan. The PAYGO plan will add an extra $5 million to road repairs every year until contributions reach $25 million. Once at $25 million, the funding will be maintained each following year.
Also, on Tuesday, supervisors considered the proposed purchase of a veterinarian office on Tucson’s east side. The proposal failed on a 2-3 vote, with Supervisors Bronson, Christy joining Supervisor Miller in her motion to deny the purchase. During the Call to the Audience portion of the meeting, residents spoke out against the proposal and none spoke in favor. In a rather strange presentation, the realtor for the seller of the clinic pleaded with the Board of Supervisors to continue the decision in order to facilitate the sale.
Later, Miller cited the animal hospital purchase proposal and the purchase of the Golden Pins bowling alley as “ shiny objects” that “distract us from focusing our funding on repairing the roads and put these repairs on the back burner.”
Supervisor Elias took exception to Miller’s statement and claimed the supervisors do not get distracted by “the shiny things,” but offered no justification for the purchase of the veterinarian office.