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  • Supervisors adopt FY2020 budget; more money for roads, libraries and deputies

    Jul 02, 2019 | Read More News
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    In a series of votes July 2, the Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted the combined fiscal year 2020 budget that includes more money for road repair, builds new libraries and bumps up the starting salary for sheriff’s deputies. By using budget savings for some one-time expenditures and cutting the primary property tax rate by 7 cents, the board managed to soften the tax blow caused by an increase in property valuations set by the County Assessor. As a result, most county property tax payers will see a smaller increase in their county tax bill next year than if the board had left the primary property tax rate unchanged. 

    The new fiscal year began July 1. 

    As part of the budget adoption process, the board voted on several separate property tax levies and budgets that comprise the total county tax levy, tax rates and budget. The board also approved the budget for the Stadium District (Kino Sports and Entertainment Complex).

    The combined county budget for fiscal year 2020 is $1.31 billion, funded by a combined county property tax rate of $5.5584 per $100 of net assessed value, which is five cents less than the current fiscal year. In adopting the main county budget, the board required that all General Fund county departments reduce their personnel budgets by 1 percent so that they end the fiscal year with a budget surplus, which may be used to offset increases in property valuations or to jumpstart a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) capital financing program. 

    The County Administrator designed the FY 2020 budget as a transition budget from one that relied on debt financing to fund major capital projects to one that relies on PAYGO (see below), in which a portion of property value increases and a portion of the reduction of a secondary property tax used to pay off debt would be used to fund these projects instead, while still lowering the overall county tax rate. 

    The following are details of each funding segment of the budget:

    Primary Property Tax
    Board vote: 3-2 (Supervisors Elías, Valadez and Bronson voting yes, Supervisors Miller and Christy voting no). 
    Rate: $3.9996 (a reduction of 7 cents from current rate)
    Budgeted Expenditure: $616 million 
    Details: The primary property tax is the main source of funding for the county General Fund, which is unrestricted and funds the majority of county operations. 

    Public Library District Tax
    Board vote: 5-0
    Rate: $0.5353 (increases 2 cents to fund PAYGO)
    Budgeted Expenditure: $43.1 million 
    Details: The Library District tax is a restricted fund and revenue raised from this secondary property tax can only be used to the benefit of the county library system. The board chose to keep the slight increase in the district’s property tax rate to fund the new PAYGO capital funding program. The funds raised by the increase will be used to pay for the construction of two new libraries, one in Sahuarita and the other near Vail. 

    Flood Control District Tax
    Board vote: 5-0
    Rate: $0.3335 (no change)
    Budgeted expenditure: $16.9 million 
    Details: The Flood Control District is a restricted fund and the revenue from this secondary tax can be only used to pay for flood control programs in the county. The district funds general maintenance of the completed flood control systems and has several capital improvement projects planned including completion of the El Corazon bank protection for the Santa Cruz River between Rillito River and Canada del Oro Wash. This $14 million improvement will protect Interstate 10 at the Union Pacific Railroad and will provide north – south continuity for the Chuck Huckelberry Loop.  

    Voter-approved Bond Repayment Tax (Debt Service)
    Board vote:
    Rate: $0.6900 (no change)
    Budgeted expenditure: $107.9 million 
    Details: This secondary tax is restricted to repaying voter-approved bonds that were used over the past 30 years to construct public buildings and recreational amenities, provide for historic preservation and for neighborhood investment and conservation, among other things. There is only about $227 million in general obligation bond debt remaining to be paid off and the tax rate needed to pay it back is expected to be reduced significantly over the next few years.

    Stadium District
    The board also voted 5-0 to approve the budget for the Stadium District, which operates Kino Sports and Entertainment Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way. The District is primarily funded through visitor taxes and fees as well as facility booking fees and ticket sales, and then supplemented by the General Fund. The complex is in the middle of a major expansion that will double its size and increase its already considerable positive effect on the regional economy. The district’s budget for the coming fiscal year is $9 million. 

    Other Budget Highlights

    Road Repair Funding
    Supervisors approved $26 million for road repairs next fiscal year. About $15 million will come from the county’s portion of state shared gas tax and vehicle license fee revenue; about $6 million is leftover remaining 1997 road bond funds; and $5 million is from the General Fund. Altogether, the funds will repair more than 118 miles of unincorporated county roads, including neighborhood roads in all five supervisory districts. 

    Employee Salary Increases
    The board approved all eligible County employees who earn less than $45,000 receive a 4 percent salary adjustment effective Sept, 1. Those eligible employees who earn more than $45,000 annually will receive a 2 percent salary adjustment. In addition, starting salaries for Sheriff’s deputies will increase by $2 an hour effective July 7. This follows a $2-an-hour increase for starting corrections officers that went into effect in February. The approved pay plan also changes the top end of the pay scale for some deputies and corrections officers, which will allow deputies previously topped out in their classification to benefit from the overall employee pay increases. The deputy increases are intended to improve recruitment and retention in the department. 

    Pay As You Go (PAYGO) Capital Improvement Funding 
    Over the past few decades, the county has relied on voter-approved bonding to fund infrastructure and facility needs, but with voter sentiment opposed to bonded indebtedness the past few years, the board has approved a county administration plan to use a portion of property tax revenue to pay for the capital improvement needs of the county. The plan will be funded by expected annual increases in property valuations and reductions in the bond repayment tax rate. For the primary property tax, all PAYGO capital funding will be used in subsequent years for road repairs. 

    More information about the County budget and links to past years' budgets.