• Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Print
  • RSS
  • Pima County 101

    Click the individual boxes above for expanded descriptions and links to each division or elected official.

    Created in 1864, Pima County covers approximately 9,200 square miles and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas of the United States. Pima County, like all other counties, is responsible for carrying out certain policies and mandates of the State of Arizona. 

    The reason the County has a Health Department and a Department of Environmental Quality, for example, is because the State mandates it. 

    The County is divided into five Supervisory districts. Residents in each of these districts elect a member to the Board of Supervisors who represent that district’s residents. In addition to voting on legislation, Supervisors often assist their constituents in accessing County services.
    Assessor Clerk of Superior Court Constables County Attorney Justice Courts Juvenile Court County Administration Health and Community Services Justice and Law Enforcement Public Works Treasurer Superior Court Sheriff's Office School of Superintendent Recorder's Office Board of Supervisors County Administrator Clerk of the Board

    Assessor Clerk of Superior Court Constables County Attorney Justice Courts Juvenile Court County Administration Health and Community Services Justice and Law Enforcement Public Works Treasurer Superior Court Sheriff's Office School of Superintendent Recorder's Office Board of Supervisors County Administrator Clerk of the Board

    County Government

    Pima County government can be divided into several general areas of responsibility. Under each area, a group of departments and their divisions provide services to the community. Many of the services the County provides are mandated under state law. Others do not hold legislative mandates but are critical to the effective operation of the County or are important to the health, safety, and quality of life of County residents. 

    Unlike most Arizona counties, Pima County has a large urban, unincorporated population. Nearly 400,000 residents of unincorporated Pima County live in mostly urban areas of the County, not within any city or town. Because of this, Pima County provides many services that a municipality would typically provide.

    Elected Officials

    The Arizona Constitution established a number of countywide elected officials with specific statutory responsibilities. These officials administer law enforcement, criminal justice, and court systems. Countywide elected leaders also oversee specific governmental functions like property assessments, tax collection, recording of legal documents, and supporting public school systems. 


    Many of these departments provide services that are internal to the County, such as Human Resources, Procurement and Information Technology.

    Health and Community Services

    The departments under the health banner provide myriad services like the operation of clinics, food safety inspections, health education assistance, preventative health services, health professional resources, animal care, birth/death certificates, and post-mortem examinations. Many of the County’s health services operate under mandate of state law and in coordination with the Arizona Department of Health Services. 

    The several departments under the banner of Community Services perform many functions including housing services, workforce development, and neighborhood reinvestment. These departments also work in planning and preparation for emergency responses and manage a region-wide public safety communications network. Community Services also includes tourism promotion and managing the County’s Kino Sports Complex. 

    Justice and Law Enforcement and Public Defense Services

    Departments under Justice and Law Enforcement are led by independently elected officials. These include the Sheriff, County Attorney, Constables, and the Clerk of the Superior Court. Justices of the Peace also are directly elected, while Superior Court Judges are appointed by the Governor and face unopposed, retention votes every four years. 

    These departments’ authority and responsibilities are defined in state law. The only oversight from the Board of Supervisors and County Administration these departments are subject to is annual budget approval. 
    The departments of Public Defense Services provide court-authorized legal services to criminally charged defendants. These departments also represent children in dependency cases and provide court-appointed fiduciary services for vulnerable adults. 

    Public Works

    Public works includes those departments that build and maintain public infrastructure like roads, wastewater treatment facilities, parks, and flood mitigation structures. These departments also administer zoning, development review, provide oversight of County-owned real property, and manage large-scale public building projects. Public Works departments also operate parks, maintain open spaces, oversee conservation of natural resources, and administer federal, state, and local environmental policies. 


    Pima County funds its governmental operations in a number of ways.


    • Primary – Pima County charges property taxes on real property (land and buildings) and personal property (property such as equipment used for commercial, industrial, residential, and agricultural purposes). Different assessment ratios apply to different classes of real or personal property. The primary property tax is the largest source of income for the Pima County and funds most general operating expenses. 
    • Secondary – The secondary property tax also is assessed to real property, but it is only for paying of voter-approved debt. This is debt voters approved the county take on to fund infrastructure needs and purchase conservation lands.
    • Regional Flood Control District – The Flood Control District is a separate taxing authority under the Board of Supervisor’s purview. Its primary role is to build flood mitigation infrastructure to prevent property damage during flooding events.
    • Library District – The Library District is a separate taxing authority under the purview of the Board of Supervisors. Its funding is used to operate the 26 County libraries.
    • Other taxes – There are numerous taxing authorities throughout the county that are not controlled by Pima County. These include cities, towns, school districts, fire districts, and water districts. 

    State Shared Revenue

    • Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) – This is money the state charges per gallon of gasoline and other fuels sold. The state distributes the funds to cities, towns, and counties based on a legislatively set formula. This tax is used to fund the County’s Department of Transportation and its operations. 
    • Vehicle License Tax (VLT) – This is a fee the state charges vehicle owners for annual registration. A Legislature-established formula divides the funds among state departments and local governments. The share provided to local governments such as Pima County are split between road funding and general governmental expenses.   
    • Transaction Privilege Tax - Sometimes referred to as a sales tax, the Arizona transaction privilege tax (TPT) is actually a tax on a vendor for the privilege of doing business in the state. The Arizona Department of Revenue collects TPT and redistributes a share of the collections to local governments. 
    Fees and permitting 
    While many County departments and elected offices charge fees for various services, there are only two departments whose fees comprise the majority or totality of their operating budgets. These departments operate as enterprise funds, which are self-funding and not reliant on tax revenue. 
    • Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department charges fees for residential and commercial sewer service. These fees fund the Development Services Department charges permitting and licensing fees for construction related activity. 


    Some County departments can fund various functions through grants. These grants typically come from state and federal government and can only be used to fund the specific program or function described in grant application materials. Some grants are used to pay salaries of employees who provide a specific grant-related function. 


    Bonds, or municipal bonds, are a form of debt financing governments use to fund capital improvement projects. Investors purchase bonds in the financial markets with the expectation of a return on investment through interest payments. 

    Governments use the proceeds of bond sales to fund construction and other capital projects. The bond debt is then paid off through a secondary property tax. Once the bonds are retired, the secondary property tax is dissolved

    All of the bond debt in Pima County has been voter-approved. 

    Pima County has used bond to fund the construction of major capital improvement projects, such as:
    • Affordable housing
    • Community centers
    • Conservation lands
    • Court facilities
    • Flood Control improvements
    • Libraries
    • Museums
    • Neighborhood reinvestment projects
    • Parks and recreational facilities
    • Public health clinics
    • Roads
    • Sewer treatment facilities
    • Sheriff substations
    Pima County has primarily funded capital projects in the following ways:  
    • General Obligation Bonds – this the primary form of bonds the County has used to construct infrastructure improvements and are paid back with secondary property taxes
    • Highway User Revenue Bonds – these bonds have been used to fund major roadway improvements and new capacity and are paid back with state revenues from the vehicle license tax, fuel tax, motor carrier fees and use taxes
    • Sewer Revenue Bonds – these bonds were used to construct new wastewater treatment facilities and other system improvements and were paid back with sewer user and connection fees
    • Certificates of Participation – these are used to fund various public improvements and are paid from the County General Fund
    Follow UsShare this page

    Communications Office

    201 N. Stone Ave., 2nd Floor
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    (520) 724-9999

    Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - noon and 1 - 5 p.m., except on holidays.

    Department Home Page
    Department News
    Department Feedback Form
    Subscribe to Pima County FYI Newsletter
    Volunteer with Pima County