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  • Tax rate cut and more money for roads in County Administrator’s recommended FY 2020 budget

    Apr 26, 2019 | Read More News
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    Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry April 26 submitted his recommended fiscal year 2020 budget to the Board of Supervisors.

    Highlights of the Administrator’s recommended budget include cutting the primary property tax rate for the second year in a row, a significant increase in road repair funding, two new libraries, a new system for funding capital improvements, salary adjustments for eligible County employees and higher starting salaries for Sheriff’s deputies.

    The Board will hold a series of budget hearings in May and is scheduled to vote on tentatively adopting the budget at its May 21 meeting. Final budget adoption is scheduled for June 18. Property tax rates will be set on August 19.

    The County’s property tax base increased by 4.75 percent over FY 2019. The increase in property values is a strong indicator of the strength of the County’s economy. The increase also is an excellent illustration of how hard the Great Recession hit Pima County and the pressure it put on the County’s budget. The FY 2020 tax base is still below the FY 2010 tax base, the county’s previous high for property values. It should be noted that property values are set by the Pima County Assessor and not by the Board of Supervisors. 

    The tax base increase has allowed the Administrator to recommend funding a number of important initiatives and still cut the overall County tax rate to help soften the effect of the growth in property values. 

    Highlights of the Recommended FY 2020 Pima County Budget: 

    • 7-Cent reduction in the County’s primary property tax rate. If adopted by the Board of Supervisors, FY 2020 will be the second year in a row the Board has cut the County tax rate. The Board in the current fiscal year cut the primary property tax rate by 39 cents per $100 of assessed value and the overall tax rate by 37 cents, a cut of more than 6 percent. The Administrator is recommending for next fiscal year an additional primary property tax rate cut of 7 cents per $100 of taxable net assessed value, which would lower the primary tax rate below $4 per $100 for the first time since 2014, and a total net county tax rate cut of 5 cents. 
    • $26 million in road repair. Due to an expected increase in state shared transportation revenue (HURF), operational efficiencies in the Department of Transportation, and a reduction in 1997 road bond repayment amounts, the Department of Transportation is recommending $15 million in HURF funding be used for road repair. The Administrator is recommending those funds be augmented with another $6 million in reallocated 1997 bond funds (approved by the Board in 2019) and $5 million from the General Fund. It is the intended beginning of a robust effort to invest as much money as possible as equitably as possible to solve the more than $600 million problem.  
    • Consideration of re-implementing a special road repair tax of 25 cents per $100 of assessed value, which if adopted would raise another $21 million for road repair. The Board had imposed this tax for the FY 2018 budget but repealed it for the current FY 2019 fiscal year. The special primary property tax is specifically authorized by state statute for transportation funding. The FY 2018 road repair tax revenue was divided among the five municipalities in the County but the Administrator is recommending that, if adopted by the board for next year, all of the revenue be used to repair unincorporated County roads. If adopted it would of course negate the tax rate cut discussed above. If the board were to adopt this tax and maintain it over five years, combined with the other mentioned funding sources, the County could commit up to $300 million over five years to road repair, or nearly half of the existing problem. The proposed special road tax is not included in the recommended budget, it’s an option the Administrator is asking the Board to consider. If the Board wants it included, the Budget will be amended before the Board sets the budget spending ceiling May 21. 
    • Implementation of a new Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) capital funding program. The County for the past 30 years has relied primarily on voter-approved bonds for capital improvements such as new roads, new facilities, and aging building repair and renovation. With this recommended budget, the Administrator is asking the Board to annually dedicate a portion of three of the four property taxes the Board sets rates for – the primary property tax (which funds the General Fund and is unrestricted), the Regional Flood Control District tax and the Library District tax – to fund a capital program. An example of how these funds will work is the Library District PAYGO fund is recommended to pay for new library branches in Vail and Sahuarita in FY 2020. 
    • Salary increases for County staff and the Sheriff’s Department. The Administrator is recommending all eligible County employees who earn more than $45,000 receive a 2 percent salary adjustment. Those eligible employees who earn less than $45,000 annually will receive a 3 percent salary adjustment. In addition to these raises, the Administrator for the third year in a row is, in cooperation with Sheriff Mark Napier, recommending salary adjustments for Sheriff’s Department personnel to improve the department’s ability to attract qualified new Sheriff’s deputies. Under the recommended plan, deputy starting salaries would increase by $2 an hour. This follows a $2-an-hour increase for starting corrections officers that went into effect in February. The 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 proposed across-the-board eligible employee pay increases. 
    The combined budget of $1.31 billion is nearly 2 percent less than the current year’s budget.

    Read the entire recommended budget.