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  • Supervisors approve county budget, tax decrease, pay raises

    Jul 05, 2016 | Read More News
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    board of supervisors(NOTE: This release was updated on July 6th to more accurately reflect the Board's direction on employee compensation.

    The Pima County Board of Supervisors July 5 voted 3-2 to approve the $1.233 billion county budget for Fiscal Year 2017, including a 10-cent decrease in the primary property tax rate. The budget also includes raises for county employees. The percentage pay increase is greater for lower-paid employees and less for the highest. Supervisors Ray Carroll and Ally Miller voted against the budget and the pay increase plan.

    The Board in June approved the budgets and tax rates for the Library and Flood Control taxing jurisdictions and the tax rate for the county’s debt service. The board increased the Flood Control tax rate by 2 cents per $100 of taxable value. The rates for the Library and debt service remained the same. The net overall combined county tax rate is 8-cents per $100 of taxable value lower than fiscal year 2016 (see table 1 below).  

    The tax cut is a fulfillment of the board’s promise during the FY 2016 budget adoption that if the county prevailed in a lawsuit against the state it would reduce the tax rate it set last year. The state in 2015 capped its funding of Additional State Aid for Education and instead made local jurisdictions pay the majority of it, which left Pima County with a $16 million bill. The county sued, arguing the law was unconstitutional and a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge agreed. The state chose not to appeal the decision.

    To raise the funds to pay the state bill, the board last year raised the primary property tax rate 10 cents per $100 of assessed value and County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry recommended another 10-cent increase for the new fiscal year to raise all the funds necessary to pay the Aid to Education bill. The successful lawsuit made the proposed increase moot and allowed the board to eliminate last year’s increase. 

    The budget adopted Tuesday includes pay increases for all county employees ranging from 2 percent for the highest paid to 6 percent for the lowest (see table 2 below), beginning Aug. 21. The pay plan includes funds for “decompression” of deputy Sheriff and correction officer pay, which means giving longer-serving deputies bigger pay bumps to separate them from newer employees who are earning nearly as much. Some deputies will see pay increases by as much as 20 percent though most of those eligible for “decompression” will see increases between 2 and 10 percent (see table 3). 

    The approved pay increase is only the second raise county employees have received since before the Great Recession eight years ago (employees did receive two other raises, however those were done to offset increased benefits costs charged to employees). The total cost of the raises for the fiscal year is $15.7 million. To pay for it, the board agreed to use budget stabilization funds and budget cuts.

    To find the funds in the approved budget, the board directed county administration to pursue a series of cost saving measures, including a 1 percent across the board budget reduction to be achieved primarily through employee attrition; savings realized through energy cost reduction; and savings from criminal justice reform and reduced rates of incarceration. The County Administrator also recommended changes in employee health care benefits, however the board did not support those recommendations.  

    Other highlights of the budget approved July 5:
    • Allocates $4.75 million for pavement preservation to repair major arterial and collector streets in the unincorporated county;
    • Budgets $6.4 million to fund the cost of FY 2016/17 primary and general elections; 
    • Capital projects funding for 50 transportation projects, including reconstructions of parts of Sunset, Silverbell, Wilmot and Sahuarita roads; 
    • Renovation of the Flowing Wells library branch;
    • Continued support of the county’s southside hospital, now run by Banner through a partnership with the University of Arizona and the Arizona Board of regents. 
    Table 1
     Pima County Property Proposed Property Tax Rates FY2017
     Type Current Rate New Rate % Change
     Pima County
     $4.3877  $4.2896  -2.2%
    Library  $0.5153  $0.5153  0%
    Flood Control  $0.3135  $0.3335  6.38%
     Debt Service  $0.70  $0.70  0%
     Total   $5.9165  $5.8384  -1.32%

    Table 2
    Approved Employee Pay Increases
    Salary Range Percent Increase 
     $35,000 and below
    6 percent
    $35,001 - $55,000 5 percent
    $55,001 - $90,000 3.5 percent
    More than $90,000 2 percent

    Table 3
     Eligible Deputy "Decompression" Raise Distribution
    Position 2-5% 5-10% 10-15% 15-20%   Total
    Deputies
     130 110 37 105 382
    Deputy Sgts 18 37 0 0 55
    Correction Officers 56 171 57 40 324
    Correction Sgts.  0 46 0 0 46
     Total  204 364 94 145 807


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