Meeting on December 3, 2019, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved Resolution 2019-89 setting out the County’s state legislative agenda compiled by County Administrator Charles Huckelberry. In it were tax increases, cuts in service and pension contributions, and major hits to county transparency. The vote was 3-2, with supervisors Miller and Christy voting against Huckelberry’ plan.
Included in the package the county wants the state to approve a fifteen-cents per gallon increase in the gas tax and an equivalent “road tax” for electric vehicles. There is also a proposed excise, sales or “transaction privilege” tax to fund pensions for elected officials and public safety “participants.” Huckelberry’s memo to the BOS says any tax plan should “not severely harm the county taxpayer.” Harm is okay, as long as it’s not “severe.”
While proposing to tax county residents for those pensions, he also proposes reducing pension contributions, and thus pension benefits, for those public safety “participants” by eliminating overtime from retirement benefit calculations.
Citing the printing of the Arizona Daily Star in Phoenix and the “consolidation” of the US Postal Service there, Huckelberry proposed, and the Supervisors approved, eliminating all mail and newsprint notices of government operations required by law. These include bid notices and surplus property sales. Instead of being notified by mail or by newspaper ads, residents would have to go to the county website on their own initiative to find them.
The resolution also seeks reductions in some services by cutting off county contributions to the Arizona Dept. of Juvenile Corrections and the state’s Long Term Care System administered by AHCCCS.
The legislative agenda will be carried to Phoenix by Pima County’s hired lobbyist, Michael Racy, who receives $280,000 per year just from Pima County. His other clients include Diamond Ventures; potential conflict-of-interest concerns have been ignored by the county for years. Racy is a lavish contributor to political campaigns, dispensing over $10,000 in 2016 to both Democrats and Republicans.
For more on lobbyist Michael Racy, go to: https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2016/08/24/pima-countys-secret-government-continued/