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  • Board OKs county budget, funds pre-K education, fixes roads and lowers tax rate

    Jun 22, 2021 | Read More News
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     The Pima County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, in a series of votes, adopted the fiscal year 2022 budget, which reduces the overall County property tax rate while also funding early childhood education, the repair of more than 300 miles of roads, body cameras for Sheriff’s deputies, and funds dozens of community agencies and organizations that provide vital and essential services to County residents. 

    The record $2.1 billion budget is encumbered by large one-time funding requirements, including $300 million to stabilize the Public Safety Retirement System fund, and $350 million in federal funds for COVID-19 pandemic-related costs. The total revenue budget for next fiscal year is just over $1.5 billion, which includes about $500.7 million in property tax levies, an increase of about 3.7 percent over the current fiscal year. 

    Property values have increased significantly across the metro area, raising total net assessed valuations by more than 6 percent. The board reduced the combined County tax rate by 11.56 cents per $100 of net assessed value so that most property owners will see only a slight increase in their County tax bills next year. The proposed combined tax rate is $5.1952 per $100 of assessed value. 

    The rate reduction, is the fourth year in a row the Board has reduced the overall tax rate, reducing it by 78.32 cents per $100 in assessed value since fiscal year 2018. When factoring in the increase in property values over the past four years, the cumulative year-over-year rate reductions by the board has resulted in over $205 million in property taxes avoided by County taxpayers since 2018.

    There are two components to County property taxes – a property’s assessed value set by the elected County Assessor, and the tax rate, which is set by the Board of Supervisors. Using formulas set by state law, rates for the different County property taxes are multiplied by the assessed value to determine the tax bill. The County imposes four types of property taxes and the Board took separate votes on the rates for all of them. The board: 
    • Voted 4-1 to approve the primary tax rate, which funds the General Fund that pays for most County services; Adopted tax rate: $3.8764 (1.2% less than FY2021)
    • Voted 5-0 to approve the Library District budget and tax rate, which can only be used to fund public library operations; Adopted tax rate: $0.5353 (no change)
    • Voted 5-0 to approve the Regional Flood Control District budget and tax rate, which can only be used to fund flood control projects in the County; Adopted tax rate: $0.3335 (no change)
    • Voted 5-0 to approve the debt service tax rate, which can only be used to pay back voter-approved general obligation bonds that funded the construction of County facilities and infrastructure; Adopted tax rate: $0.45 (13% less than FY2021)
    The Board also approved the budget for the Kino Stadium District, which operates the Kino Sports and Entertainment Complex on East Ajo Way. The District is partly funded by car rental and user fees. 

    Proposed FY22 Budget Highlights:
    • Early Childhood Education: The Board approved $10 million for a pre-school education program in which the County will fund scholarships to qualifying families. The Board took a separate vote for this funding, approving it 3-2. 
    • Library Expansions: The Public Library District has several capital projects in the budget, including completion of the Sahuarita Library, expansions and improvements to the Elías-Mission and Martha Cooper branches, and library network improvements.
    • 300 miles in Road Repair: The budget includes about $85 million for road pavement repair and maintenance. The funding includes an acceleration of the PAYGO, or Pay-As-You-Go program, adopted by the Board in 2019, as well as the HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund). The PAYGO funding is the second consecutive year the Board has accelerated its 10-year plan to fix all County roads by FY 2030. The two years of accelerated repairs will fix about 500 miles of unincorporated County roads, or roughly the same amount of pavement driven on from Tucson to Los Angeles. 
    • Major Road Improvement Projects: In addition to road repair, the approved budget includes $52.3 million in road improvement projects, including two projects planned for Houghton Road, and widening a northern section of Kolb Road.
    • Northwest Service Center: The County acquired a property on Miracle Mile to serve as the Northwest Service Center, which will house numerous County agencies currently providing health and social services in the area at several leased properties. The budget will fund the estimated $3.7 million renovation cost of the building.
    • Deputy Body Cameras and tasers: At the request of the Sheriff, the board approved $2.1 million to purchase tasers for deputies, and body-worn cameras as part of a nationwide effort to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability. 
    • County Employee Minimum Wage: The approved budget includes $2.9 million to raise the County employee minimum wage to $15. This is about $3 an hour higher than the state’s minimum wage. The wage increase will help entry-level County employees earn a living wage and affects about 2,000 County employees.
    • Outside agency funding and CDBG: The Board approved about $10 million in funding for dozens of agencies that partner with the county in providing essential services throughout the community. Among the organizations receiving funds are the Pima Council on Aging, the Community Food Bank, and the YWCA. Numerous community events also received funding support, including El Tour de Tucson and Tucson Meet Yourself.  
    Other Budget Votes 
    State law requires the Board to also set the budgets and tax rates for improvement and facilities districts that are used to fund infrastructure specific to communities, the largest of which was the $1.5 million budget and commensurate property tax rate for the Rocking K Facilities District, which is a large master-planned community on the southeast of the metropolitan area. The board voted 5-0 to approve these budgets and tax rates.