Pima County Logo
  • Bond Election November 3, 2015

    bonds 2015

     
    ​Questions and comments, call (520) 724-8450 or email us.
    Share this page.
     As requested by a 25-member citizen committee, Pima County held a bond election on November 3, 2015.  Voters did not approve the seven ballot propositions that would have funded 99 projects across the region.  Information about these projects and the bond election can be found on this site.


    November 3, 2015 Pima County Bond Election Summary of Results

    Pima County Bonds Interactive Map

    Interactive Bond Project Maps

    2015 Bond Election Proposed Projects Interactive Map

    Completed Bond Projects From 1997, 2004 and 2006 Elections Interactive Map

    Interactive maps are supported on Internet Explorer 9, and above (download), Chrome, Firefox, Safari and the most recent tablet and smartphone devices.

     

    Estimated Total Debt Repayment, Including Principle and Interest

     

    Total Principle
    Estimated Total Interest
    Estimated Total Cost
    $ 815,760,000
    $ 203,332,225
    $1,019,092,225

    In the past five years, the average interest rate of general obligation bonds sold by the County has been 2.78 percent per year.  For planning purposes the County used interest rate assumptions of 2.78 percent per year for the first five years of bond sales, 3.20 percent per year for the next five years of bond sales, and 3.45 percent per year thereafter.  Pima County's interest rates have been lower than the average of other AA rated local governments primarily because the County issues relatively short-term debt with a 15 year payback period.  Many governments who issue debt will borrow for 20, or 30, or even 40 years.  The longer the debt repayment period is, the higher the interest rates will be.  Because Pima County repays so quickly, our interest rates tend to be more favorable than the average.

    Estimated Property Tax Impact and Increase to Owner of Average Valued Home

    If all seven propositions are approved by voters, Pima County would be authorized to sell $815,760,000 in general obligation bonds. The bonds would then be sold in increments over 12 years and repaid with property tax revenues. As part of the annual County budgeting process, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approves the specific amount of bonds to be sold each year and the property tax rate necessary to generate the tax revenues to repay the bond debt. The Board has voluntarily committed to not exceed a tax rate of 81.5 cents per $100 of taxable net assessed value to repay this new debt as well as the existing debt on bonds approved from past bond elections. The current tax rate for bond debt is 70 cents per $100 of taxable net assessed value and is estimated to increase by 11.5 cents to the cap of 81.5 cents the first year that new bonds are sold.

    The average taxable value for residential units (homes) in Pima County is $152,511. Based on the total value of all taxable property in Pima County, it is estimated that an average annual tax rate of 39.4 cents per $100 of taxable net assessed value would yield the amount needed for debt service on $815,760,000 of new bond debt. For a home with a value of $152,511, the average in Pima County, the cost to repay the new bond debt in its entirety is estimated to average $60 per year. Although the average annual cost associated with these new bonds is estimated at $60 a year, the current County bonds property tax bill for this same homeowner is estimated to increase by only $17.54 a year. This is because overtime the debt on existing bonds is repaid, and therefore the property taxes this homeowner currently pays towards existing bond debt will start to go towards repaying the new bond debt. The tax rate cap will ensure that property taxes for County bonds in future years will not increase by more than this initial $17.54 increase, unless the taxable value of the property increases.

    Estimated Operation and Maintenance Cost Increases to Taxpayers

    One-third of the 99 projects will be operated and maintained by non-governmental organizations, such as the YMCA, or will not result in increased operation and maintenance costs. For those projects there will be no additional impact on taxpayers for operations and maintenance. For the remainder of the projects, the new or increased operation and maintenance costs are anticipated to be funded primarily with taxpayer revenues. When all 99 projects are completed and operational, the total annual operations and maintenance costs increase is estimated to be $12.6 million. Pima County’s share is estimated to be $6.1 million, or 0.5 percent of the County’s adopted budget for this fiscal year. These costs are stated on individual project description sheets, and are included in the bond implementation plan ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors. Detailed information on this subject.
    View the Bond Advisory Committee’s final report to the Board of Supervisors.

    View Bond Advisory Committee meeting agendas and summaries.

    To get involved, please check the important dates or contact us.

    Public Involvement and Planning


    Planning for this bond election started in September 2006, with Pima County departments and other jurisdictions submitting requests for projects totaling $3.2 billion, followed by seven open houses held around the County. From 2007 onwards, public involvement was directly related to the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee and their task in reviewing and deliberating on projects in order to develop recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The Bond Advisory Committee is a 25 members committee with the following representation: 3 members appointed by each County Supervisor and the County Administrator; and 1 member appointed by each of the incorporated cities and towns and the two tribes.







    bond advisory committeeIn 2007, the Bond Advisory Committee formed subcommittees, meeting February through September 2007, and transmitting initial recommendations to the full Committee in October 2007: $1.35 billion in general obligation projects and $565 million in sewer revenue projects. Between 2007 and 2015, the Bond Advisory Committee recommended deferring a bond election multiple times based on poor economic conditions; the County pursued and issued non-voter approved sewer revenue obligations negating the need for a sewer revenue bond election; the Bond Advisory Committee recommended and the County pursued a successful bond election for new animal care facilities; and the Bond Advisory Committee heard many presentations on projects, received new proposals and deliberated on a tentative, and eventually a final, list of projects.

    The Bond Advisory Committee and its subcommittees held more than 100 public meetings related to planning for a bond election. A town hall was held in Vail in 2007 involving 300 members of the public, with the results transmitted to the Bond Advisory Committee. In 2009, at the Bond Advisory Committee’s request, the County conducted an online survey regarding timing and project preference that resulted in 2,576 responses. In 2013, the County conducted another online survey, also at the Bond Advisory Committee’s request, receiving nearly 17,000 responses, with less than two percent of these responses (319) opposing a bond election. Furthermore, in the last two years, stakeholder attendance at Bond Advisory Committee meetings has ranged from 60 to 320 people per meeting, and public comments (letters, email correspondence and speaker cards completed at meetings) total over 3,000. The Bond Advisory Committee spent the far majority of many meetings hearing from the public.

    On April 21, 2015 the Board of Supervisors held a meeting attended by more than 450 people, and about 50 people spoke to the Board specifically about the bond election.  An additional 93 people submitted comment cards at the meeting regarding the bond election, but selected not to speak.

    Public speakers at the April 21, 2015 Board of Supervisors meeting:



    Truth in Bonding

    Visit the Pima County Truth in Bonding web page to learn more.
    Prior to the 1997 bond election, the Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted strict accountability and transparency standards as a new section of County Code, Chapter 3.06, also known as the Truth in Bonding Code. The intent of this part of Pima County’s code is to provide voters with:
    • Sufficient descriptions of the projects we are committing to build, prior to early voting;
    • Easily accessible information on a regular basis regarding the status of completing such projects;
    • Opportunities for the public to provide input on any substantial changes to projects that may become necessary over time.
    Bond Implementation Plan Ordinance for 2015 Bond Election

    A 2013 audit by the Arizona Auditor General’s office of Pima County’s 1997, 2004 and 2006 general obligation bond programs found that: Pima County’s bond programs represent a uniquely collaborative effort between the County and its cities, towns and tribes; the bond funds were used for the purposes the voters authorized and followed the approval process for any necessary changes; and the programs benefited residents all over Pima County in similar proportion to taxes paid. Audit Report


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are General Obligation bonds and what do they mean to property taxpayers?


    General obligation bonds are a common form of financing used by cities, towns, counties, school districts and other local governments. These governments sell bonds to investors and use the revenue to fund capital improvement projects, like libraries, parks and other public facilities. General obligation bonds are attractive to investors because the interest earned is typically tax-exempt.  In the case of Pima County, the County then levies an annual property tax to repay the bonds.  The County also varies the amount of bonds sold each year in order to prevent property taxes from varying considerably from one year to another.  If all seven of the propositions are approved by voters, it is estimated that a homeowner who owns a home valued at $152,511, which is the average valued home in Pima County, would pay $17.54 more a year than they currently pay for Pima County bonds.

    When will projects be completed?


    The county intends to sell bonds once a year over 12 years in order to not exceed the voluntary property tax rate cap.  Projects are expected to be completed or under construction between year 1 and year 12. The 2004 voter approved bond program anticipated 10 years of bond sales and project completion within 12 years, but 75 percent of bond projects were completed or under construction within 6 years of the bond election.  The Bond Implementation Plan Ordinance states when, within the 12 years, individual projects are scheduled to be built.



    Why are there seven ballot propositions instead of one?


    The Arizona State Constitution requires that ballot propositions address single subjects. The 99 projects that the County intend to fund with proceeds from bond funds authorized by these ballot propositions, are diverse and range from ball fields to health clinics.  Working under the Constitutional  constraint, the County and its attorneys, developed seven ballot propositions that  each address a single purpose and related projects.

    How much will it cost the average homeowner to repay the new bond debt in its entirety?


    For an owner of a home with the taxable value of $152,511, which is the average value of all owner-occupied residential units in Pima County in 2015, the property tax impact of repaying the new bond debt in its entirety is estimated to average $60 a year.  This is based on an average annual property tax rate of 39.4 cents of $100 of net taxable value over the entire repayment period.

    How much will property taxes increase for the average homeowner?


    For an owner of a home with the taxable value of $152,511, which is the average value of all owner-occupied residential units in Pima County in 2015, property taxes for County bonds are estimated to  increase by $17.54 the first year that new bonds are sold.  This is based on the current property tax rate of 70 cents per $100 of net taxable value increasing by 11.5 cents to a cap of 81.5 cents per $100 of net taxable value. Because of the tax rate cap, property taxes for County bonds in future years should not increase by more than this initial $17.54 a year increase unless the taxable value of the property increases.

    Although the average yearly cost associated with repaying these new bonds is estimated at $60, the current County bonds property tax bill for the same homeowner is estimated to increase by only $17.54 a year. This is because overtime the debt on existing bonds is repaid, and therefore the property taxes this homeowner currently pays towards existing bond debt will start to go towards repaying the new bond debt.

    How are property tax impacts and increases to the average homeowner calculated?


    For a home valued by the Pima County Assessor at $152,511, which is the average value of all owner-occupied residential units in Pima County, the annual property tax impact to that homeowner to repay the bonds is estimated to be $60.  This assumes that an average annual property tax rate of 36.4 cents per $100 of net taxable value will be necessary to repay the new bonds.  The increase in property taxes is estimated to be $17.54 .  This assumes that the current tax rate of 70 cents per $100 of net taxable value will increase by 11.5 cents to the cap of 81.5 cents.  Substitute your home’s limited value, as determined by the Pima County Assessor, for the $152,511 used in these examples and calculated as follows:

    $152,511 x 10%(residential assessment ratio) = $15,251.10

    $15,251.10 ÷ 100 (because the tax rate is applied to $100 of net value) = $152.511

    $152.511 x 0.3938 (tax rate) = $60.06 (year)

    $152,511 x 10%(residential assessment ratio) = $15,251.10

    $15,251.10 ÷ 100 (because the tax rate is applied to $100 of net value) = $152.511

    $152.511 x 0.115 (tax rate) = $17.54 (year)

    What would be the property tax impacts and increases to an owner of a $250,000 home and $500,000 home?


    Only 13 percent of homes in Pima County are valued by the Pima County Assessor for tax purposes at $250,000 or higher, and only 2 percent of homes are valued at $500,000 of higher. For the owner of a home with the taxable value of $250,000, the property tax impact of repaying the new bond debt in its entirety is estimated to average $98.45 a year and property tax increase is estimated to be $28.75 a year.  For the owner of a home with the taxable value of $500,000, the property tax impact of repaying the new bond debt in its entirety is estimated to average $197 a year and property tax increase is estimated to be $57.50 a year. 

    How can taxpayers be assured that their tax bills will not vary significantly from one year to another in order to pay off these bonds?


    The County plans to sell the bonds once a year over 12 years.  Selling the bonds over 12 years enables the County to keep the property tax rate under the voluntary cap of $0.815 per $100 of net assessed value, and prevents significant fluctuations in property taxes from one year to another.

    Why not fund these projects with a sales tax instead?


    Pima County is the only county in the state that does not have a sales tax.  Adopting a sales tax to fund these projects, or to fund other governmental services, requires a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors, which had not occurred.

    Have there been any independent audits or reviews of the County's bond programs or finances?

    In 2012, the Arizona Legislature passed unprecedented legislation directing the Auditor General to audit Pima County’s bond programs.  This legislation essentially arose from the dispute between Pima County and the Town of Marana over sewer facilities. After an extensive and costly audit, for which the State was required to pay, the Auditor General found that:
    • Pima County has taken a collaborative approach in administering its bond programs, which is unique in all of Arizona.  While other jurisdictions in the state typically issue general obligation bonds for specific projects that benefit only their own jurisdictions, Pima County has issued debt for many projects that are located within incorporated cities and towns.
    • Bond proceeds have been fairly used for authorized purposes.
    • Bond projects benefited citizens throughout Pima County. 
    We remain unaware of any other governmental entity in Arizona that follows such a strict level of conduct regarding the issuance of voter approved debt and the implementation of debt funded projects. 

    Another independent assessment of Pima County’s bond programs and general fiscal health are credit ratings. During recent credit rating reviews, the County maintained its high AA credit rating and stable financial outlook. In particular, the Fitch review noted that, “Capital needs are sizable but should not increase the county’s currently moderate debt burden given a very rapid debt repayment schedule.”

    What happens if voters only approve some of the propositions?


    If voters do not approve one or more of the propositions, the County will not be able to sell the bonds associated with those propositions, and would not be able to fund with bonds the projects associated with those propositions. In addition, the Board of Supervisors would be required by County code to amend the bond implementation plan ordinance to delete reference to those bonds and projects.

    What happened with the bond funds voters approved in 2004, 2006, and 2014 bond elections?


    It has been almost 11 years since the last comprehensive bond election in 2004, which was followed by a single issue bond election in 2006 for behavioral health facilities and a single-issue bond election in 2014 for animal care improvements. Click here for updates on the animal care improvements. The 2004 and 2006 bond programs are substantially complete and successfully resulted in the following:

    • A new Regional Emergency Communications Center and Network that is being used by 55 police and fire agencies and organizations, making it easier to communicate with each other during emergencies.
    • A new Downtown Court Complex and Public Service Center, providing all Justice Court functions at a single location for the first time in 18 years, including modern security, up-to-date courtroom technology and comfortable and accessible facilities for the public.
    • The new Herbert K. Abrams Public Health Center, which houses the Pima County Departments of Health and Behavioral Health, physician clinic space for the Family and Community Medical Center, the Diabetes Center, a Gastroenterology Laboratory, and The University of Arizona Collaboratory on Metabolic Disease Prevention and Treatment.
    • The new Crisis Response Center and Behavioral Health Pavilion, serving approximately 15,000 people per month, reducing pressure on crowded emergency rooms and reducing the drop-off time for law enforcement officers to less than 10 minutes per case.
    • A new health clinic southeast of Green Valley.
    • The new Wheeler Taft Abbett Marana Library, a complete remodel of the Wilmot Branch Library, and major expansions to the Oro Valley and Eckstrom Columbus libraries.
    • 454 new affordable housing units.
    • 25 new sports fields, the lighting of 34 sports fields, 19 new playgrounds, 39 new picnic areas, two new dog parks, one new pool, three new splash pads, five new community centers, seven new basketball courts, three new skateboard parks, significant expansion of The Loop, including 18 new trailheads and 38 miles of new multi-use paths and trails, and the acquisition of almost 300 acres for future parks and community facilities development.
    • The purchase of 52 properties totaling 47,000 acres, expanding regional parklands and conservation areas, providing 20 years of mitigation for future development, and increasing recreational access via seven new trailheads and 77 miles of new trails.
    • The rehabilitation of 23 historic buildings, eight new miles of the historic Anza Trail along with three new trailheads, and acquisition of four priority archaeological sites.
    • 394 street lights, 37 speed humps, six traffic circles, four crosswalks, 38 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance curb ramps, and 19 miles of sidewalks.
    • Cooperation with jurisdictions to address urban drainage and flooding issues along major watercourses, including construction of the Columbus Wash storm drain, which removed 235 properties from the floodplain, as well as bank protection along the Santa Cruz River in Continental Ranch to protect the new Wheeler Taft Abbett Library and Silverbell Park.
    • Improvements to an additional 12 community facilities.

    For more information on the status of the few remaining 2004 bond projects underway, please visit the main Pima County bond web page, Progress and Reports.



    How can the taxpayers be certain the County will build the projects approved by the voters?

    Prior to the 1997 bond election, the Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted strict accountability and transparency standards as a new section of County Code, Chapter 3.06, also known as the Truth in Bonding Code. The intent of this part of Pima County’s code is to provide voters with:
    • Sufficient descriptions of the projects we are committing to build, prior to early voting (see Bond Implementation Plan Ordinance);
    • Easily accessible information on a regular basis regarding the status of completing such projects;
    • Opportunities for the public to provide input on any substantial changes to projects that may become necessary over time.

    A 2013 audit by the Arizona Auditor General’s office of Pima County’s 1997, 2004 and 2006 general obligation bond programs found that:  Pima County’s bond programs represent a uniquely collaborative effort between the County and its cities, towns and tribes; the bond funds were used for the purposes the voters authorized and followed the approval process for any necessary changes; and the programs benefited residents all over Pima County in similar proportion to taxes paid.  Audit Report



    How was the public involved in planning for this bond election?


    Click on the Public Involvement tab to learn more about the Bond Advisory Committee, over 100 public meetings that were held, and other ways the public was involved in planning for this bond election.



    Doesn't Pima County have the highest debt of any county in Arizona?


    Credit rating agencies consider our debt well managed and moderate for a jurisdiction of our size.

    To put Pima County’s debt in perspective, it is first important to realize almost all of our debt comes from voter authorization.  Prior to the issuance of sewer obligations, almost all of our debt and capital financing debt instruments were approved by the voters, rather than being only approved by a jurisdictional governing body.  Most new debt by other jurisdictions in Pima County has been authorized by the governing body of that jurisdiction without voter approval.  Pima County remains one of the few large jurisdictions in Arizona to ask the voters to approve debt for bonds.

    We are typically compared to Maricopa County, which is often cited as having no debt. However, Maricopa County transferred its hospital system to a special taxing district; and recently, Maricopa County voters approved the issuance of capital debt in the amount of $935 million for a new hospital system.  In addition, Maricopa is actively discussing how to finance nearly $188 million of capital improvements for their detention facilities.  The method of financing most often discussed is to issue Certificates of Participation (COPs) without voter approval.  Hence, as much as $1.1 billion in new debt ($935 million in General Obligation bonds for a hospital and $188 million in COPs for detention facilities) may be issued in Maricopa County in the near future.   This is a substantial debt incurrence by Maricopa County, much more than is being considered by Pima County.

    The next fact to consider is that we have a long history of issuing bond debt. Since May 1974, voters in Pima County approved bond proposals at countywide elections 12 separate times.  Voters have approved 54 bond proposition questions and disapproved four.  In total, $2.064 billion in General Obligation, sewer revenue and Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) bonds have been approved over the last 41 years. The most recent approval is for a new animal care facility in November of 2014 for $22 million. 

    Of the $2.064 billion in bonds approved by the voters, $1.965 billion has been issued and $1.258 billion has been repaid.  The remaining debt of $707 million, which is $422 million in General Obligation bonds, $157 million in sewer revenue bonds and Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA) loans, and $128 million in HURF bonds is being repaid at an approximate rate of 10 percent per year. Hence, in 10 years if no new debt is issued, Pima County will be almost completely out of bond debt.  In fact, over this 10-year period, this debt will be reduced by 92 percent from what it is today.

    Our County is unique among Arizona counties in that we own and operate a regional wastewater system.  Funded previously with voter-approved debt, in 2010 we began issuing non-voter approved sewer obligations in response to federal requirements to improve effluent quality.  Because these significant capital improvements were required, it would have been disingenuous to ask for a public vote when we were required to fund the improvements regardless of whether voters said yes or no.  To date, the County has issued $531 million in sewer obligations and repaid $37 million.

    Furthermore, the County’s bond programs have evolved over time into an important funding mechanism for cities and towns. This is unique in Arizona. Although our debt per capita is lower than the debt per capita of all of the cities and towns in Pima County, with the exception of Oro Valley where it is approximately the same, these cities and towns would essentially have significantly higher per capita debt if they were no longer able to rely upon the County to fund a portion of their capital improvements.

    How can I get involved or participate prior to this bond election?


    Check out these important dates or contact us.


    Contact Information
    :

    bondinfo@pima.gov

    (520) 724-8450

    130 W. Congress, 10th Floor

    Tucson, Arizona 85701

    Why can't the County fund road repair with funding sources that already exist?


    Existing road funding sources are insufficient to keep up with the growing need. We estimate that it will cost more than $250 million to repair 1,000 miles of unincorporated county road that are in poor of failed condition. To fix all of those roads without the problem getting worse will cost $30 million a year for 10 years. In addition, we also have to consider our annual bill of $28 million for basic road maintenance and preservation costs.  The largest funding source for road improvements, Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) from the State, have not kept up with the growing need, and the State legislature continues to sweep some of these funds for other uses.


    Click here for a brochure with more details about Pima County’s transportation funding and spending.

    Will the County and cities and towns be able to afford to operate and maintain these new and expanded facilities?


    Many of these projects will be operated by the County, or cities and towns, and will rely all or partially on taxpayer revenues to fund operations and maintenance. These costs have been estimated and disclosed for each project throughout the Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) deliberation process; and, in fact, the BAC and City of Tucson’s bond advisory committee, which advised the Mayor and Council, spent a great deal of time discussing these impacts and considering whether to support projects with high operational costs. The County’s Truth in Bonding Code requires, as part of Intergovernmental Agreements, that prior to initiating the design and construction of projects, cities and towns demonstrate they are able to fund the associated operating costs. The County will face the same budgeting considerations.

    The BAC supported projects involving public/private partnerships, such as the YMCA, Tucson Children’s Museum, Oro Valley Business Accelerator, and even the acquisition of ranch lands, whereby County bond funds (taxpayer dollars) pay for the construction, but operations and maintenance remain the responsibility of the operating entity and are not borne by taxpayers. All of these partnerships provide services the County could provide itself; but for which it is more cost effective to delegate to these nonprofit organizations, or in the case of the ranches, private ranch managers.

    There are also projects for which the capital improvements are expected to increase revenues or fees for use of the facilities that will offset, or partially offset, operation and maintenance costs. Examples include the shooting range improvements, sports field improvements, community centers, the County’s North health clinic, and the Medical Examiner’s Office.

    In addition, there are some projects for which the improvements would decrease annual operation and maintenance costs, such as the road repair and pavement preservation program. An effective pavement preservation program will integrate preventive maintenance strategies that reduce short-term maintenance costs.

    Why do the ballot propositions state that the bonds will be repaid over 20 years at 8 percent interest, when the County says it will pay them off in 15 years or less at a much lower interest rate?


    “The bonds to be issued in one or more series, maturing not less than one year and not more than 20 years following the date of issuance of each series, bearing interest at a rate or rates not higher than 8 percent per annum and to be sold at prices that may include a premium not greater than that permitted by law.”

    Pima County includes this language on the ballot questions on the advice of counsel in order to obtain a voter authorization sufficiently broad to cover most future circumstances.  In fact, over the past 40 years, Pima County has only sold bonds with a maturity of no more than 15 years so the County's debt can be retired in a timely manner and future generations are not burdened with large debt. Furthermore, although the maximum interest rate would not be higher than 8 percent per year, Pima County expects to sell bonds at much lower rates. In the last five years of sales of General Obligation bonds by the County, the average interest rate has been 2.78 percent per year.

    What is the difference between the bond implementation plan ordinance that the Board adopts prior to early voting and the voter information pamphlet mailed to registered voters?


    Per Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 35-454, Pima County is required, not less than 35 days before the bond election, to mail a copy of an informational pamphlet to every household within the County that contains a registered voter. The pamphlet must contain specific financial information concerning the County’s retirement of outstanding debt and issuance of new debt, the purpose for which the bonds are to be issued, polling locations and hours, and arguments for and against the propositions.

    The Bond Implementation Plan Ordinance, as required by Pima County code Chapter 3.06, includes similar financial information and the purpose of the bond issue, but does not include polling locations, hours and arguments for and against the proposition. Instead it provides project level detail that is not provided in the voter information pamphlet. It focuses on the projects that will be built with the bond funding, including the scope and estimated cost of each project, planned timing of when the project is expected be built and project benefits. County code requires that a Board-adopted Bond Implementation Plan Ordinance be published in full in a newspaper of general circulation in the County, and on the County’s website, prior to the start of early voting. In addition, County code states that the Board may not significantly change project benefits, costs or implementation schedules from what is stated in the ordinance, without a transparent process that requires multiple opportunities for the public to provide input on such changes prior to the Board approving them.  Any significant change, however, must ensure that the bond funds are still used for the purpose stated in the actual propositions included on the ballot and in the publicity pamphlet.

    I've heard that Highway User Revenue Funds that the County receives from the State should only be spent on road repair and not on building new roads; is this true?


    No, Highway User Revenue Funds fund a variety of transportation improvements.

    Doesn't Pima County already have a half cent sales tax for roads?


    No, Pima County is the only County in Arizona without a sales tax. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which is an independent organization that plans and funds transportation improvements, mainly new roads and road expansions, throughout Pima County and within incorporated cities and towns, levies a ½ cent sales tax as approved by voters in 2006. For more information about the RTA, visit www.rtamobility.com/

    Why would some of the bond funding fund facilities that are operated by non-profits?


    The County and the Bond Advisory Committee support projects involving public/non-profit partnerships, such as the YMCA, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson Children’s Museum, and Oro Valley Business Accelerator.  This is a way for the County to provide services to the public without providing those services directly.  The County would fund the construction of facilities with bond funds repaid with property taxes, but the facilities once built would be operated and maintained by a separate operating entity with funds that are not borne by taxpayers. All of these partnerships provide services the County could provide itself, without taxpayer funding.

    How many jobs would be supported or created if voters approved these bond propositions?


    Since 2006, County staff has been tracking the number and value of County capital improvement projects and the number of construction jobs created as a result of these projects. Over this time period, approximately 280 awarded construction projects totaled more than $1.58 billion invested in Pima County’s capital infrastructure, creating approximately 17,125 construction jobs in the region. If voters were to approve the $815.8 million bond package, it is estimated approximately $564 million, plus $117 million in other funding, would go toward construction costs, creating approximately 7,400 construction jobs in the region.  This job estimation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 formula of “$92,000 of government spending creates 1 job-year,” a direct job creation of one job for one year. 

    Why does the County fund new and improved facilities within cities and towns?


    Property taxes, which are the source of revenues for repaying bond debt, are paid by residents and businesses located within cities and towns, in addition to those within unincorporated Pima County. Those residents and businesses within cities and towns should also receive a benefit from property taxes they pay to the County, and therefore the County and the Bond Advisory Committee have included a significant number of bond projects within cities and towns.  A 2013 audit by the Arizona Auditor General’s office of Pima County’s 1997, 2004 and 2006 general obligation bond programs found that: Pima County’s bond programs represent a uniquely collaborative effort between the County and its cities, towns and tribes; the bond funds were used for the purposes the voters authorized and followed the approval process for any necessary changes; and the programs benefited residents all over Pima County in similar proportion to taxes paid. Audit Report

    If the Bond Advisory Committee recommended $643 million of projects, why did the Board approve $815 million?


    The most significant difference between the Bond Advisory Committee’s recommendations and the Board of Supervisors,’ was the addition of $160 million for road repair.  Although the Committee did discuss the need for road repair a number times, the County Administrator and staff continued to suggest to the Committee that user fees or a gas tax would be the most equitable and appropriate method of financing street and highway repairs.  This was done with the hope the Arizona Legislature would address the issue in the most recent legislative session. Unfortunately, this did not occur.  Therefore, the Board of Supervisors requested that bond funding be used for road repair.   Only $160 million in bond funding could be allocated to road repair on top of the Committee’s recommendations without exceeding the County’s voluntary tax rate cap of $0.815 cents per $100 of assessed value and without lengthening the entire bond program by more than 12 years.

    The County says these bonds will be considered short-term debt; what does this mean?


    The County has traditionally limited the terms of general obligation bond debt to 15 years, which is viewed by our credit rating agencies as a very rapid debt repayment schedule in comparison to many other local governments.  In fact, typically after 10 years, 90 percent of our debt is repaid.  In the case of the road repair bonds, the County is proposing to issue those with 10-year terms, so they will be paid off even faster than the remainder of the general obligation bonds.  We also do not artificially alter the debt schedule, such as making interest only payments for the first few years and then aggressive principal payments at the end of the debt period.

    Why are the road repair bonds to be paid off sooner than the bonds for other improvements?


    The Board of Supervisors felt that the life of the bonds should not exceed the life of the road repairs; meaning that we don’t want to still be repaying bonds that were used to fund pavement preservation long after the road is in need of additional pavement preservation.  Based on our Transportation Department’s experience with road repair and pavement preservation, these improvements should last 10 years with normal maintenance.  Therefore, the County is committing to repay the road repair bonds within 10 years, instead of the typical 15-year payback period.

    Why is the County proposing to buy more open space?


    The bond package as proposed includes $95 million to continue the County’s land conservation program, as well as $3.75 million for new and improved trailheads and trails to expand outdoor recreation opportunities at County mountain parks and the Coronado National Forest. The economic benefits of land conservation and outdoor nature-based recreation, are significant to our region in particular. According to VisitTucson, the primary reason visitors travel here is our natural environment. 

    There are multiple reports available that attempt to quantify the economic impacts associated with land conservation, parks themselves, and outdoor recreation. The results show that these activities combined directly support thousands of jobs in Pima County and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in direct spending locally. For example, in 2013, the National Park Service estimated that 680,000 visitors to Saguaro National Park spent over $41 million locally, supporting 570 jobs. In 2008, it was estimated that Tucson Mountain Park had even more visitors, excluding those to the Desert Museum and Old Tucson.  One single outdoor recreation activity, wildlife watching, was estimated in 2001 to generate $174 million in sales locally, supporting 3,196 jobs.

    Other economic benefits include increased property values for residences in proximity to undeveloped natural areas, reduced healthcare costs, retaining and attracting young professionals to the region, cost savings to local governments and taxpayers by not having to extend public infrastructure to far-flung areas, and reduced flood insurance premiums.

    In addition, Pima County is pursuing a permit under the Endangered Species Act that will increase certainty for public and private developers regarding Endangered Species Act compliance.  Pima County is one of the largest developers in the region; building roads, libraries, parks, sewer improvements, etc. The permit will be for 30 years and will streamline the Endangered Species compliance process for the County and private developers in unincorporated Pima County in return for the County setting aside land for conservation, among other commitments.  These land acquisition costs would otherwise have to be funded at the individual development project level.  Acquisitions completed with 2004 voter-approved bond funds resulted in enough mitigation land to support 20 years of expected development impacts. Additional mitigation land is needed to support the remaining 10 years of expected development impacts.

    When the County buys private property, doesn't it come off the property tax rolls?


    Yes, but the impact to Pima County’s property tax revenues, and the property tax revenues of school districts in the County, has been found to be minuscule. Click here for a report on this subject.

    How can I request an early ballot?


    Please visit the Pima County Recorder’s office web site at http://www.recorder.pima.gov/earlyreq.aspx or call (520) 724-4330.

    How can I register to vote?


    Please visit the Pima County Recorder’s office web site at http://www.recorder.pima.gov/regvote.aspx or call (520) 724-4330.

    Memorandums



    Follow UsShare this page

    Pima County Bonds

    (520) 724-8450

    Address letters to
    Pima County Administration,
    130 W. Congress 10th Floor Tucson, AZ 85701


    Department Home
    Bond News
    Department Directory
    Feedback
    Boards, Commissions and Committees
    Calendar
    Maps