Photo Courtesy of Arizona Daily Star
Update: This special election was held on May 16th and City of Tucson voters approved this measure. There are approximately 255,000 registered voters within the city limits. Approximately 44,000 voted YES and 28,000 voted NO.
From Tucson’s government website, “The City of Tucson asked voters to consider a half-cent sales tax increase over the next five years. The funds collected over the five-year period would be split with $100 million being used to restore, repair, and resurface City streets, and $150 million would be spent on vehicles, equipment, and facilities for the Tucson Police Department and Tucson Fire Department. A half-cent sales tax increase is estimated to cost each household member in the City of Tucson approximately $3 per month over the course of the five-year period.”
Tucson Mayor Rothschild (D) argued that this additional funding is necessary to repair Tucson roads and keep our emergency services capable and responsive. He argued that while progress has been made on repairs in the city, any additional money for this must come from Tucson. As Arizona Public Media reports,
“The federal government is not going to come in and help us, the state government is not going to come in and help us,” Rothschild said. “One of the reasons why we’re having to do this – why the county has had the difficulties they have had with their roads – is the state has swept our highway user revenue fund. So if this doesn’t pass these changes aren’t going to be made.”
Opponents of the proposition include Pima County Republican Chairman David Eppihimer, who argues that the city needs to be more fiscally conservative, “If they would just properly allocate the money, the income, that the city has, divide it up accordingly and not just go to the citizens when there is a shortfall”. Also opposing this measure is LUPE, Tucson SURJ, Tucson Bus Riders Union & the Green Party of Pima County. They state that it unustly impacts low income and communities of color stating that only 40% goes to roads and 30% to the Tucson Police Department.
While the debate about this issue typically tends to break along party lines, some independent institutions have also weighed in. The Arizona Daily Star came out in support of Prop 101, citing some of their own investigation on the matter.
“To those inclined to vote “no” because they think it will force the mayor and council to cut the budget fat elsewhere, you are mistaken. For decades, the state Legislature has kept more of the Highway User Revenue Funds Tucson is supposed to receive for roads. For years regional officials have thought — hoped — that HURF money would be returned to municipalities…. We must take care of ourselves.”
The Arizona Daily Star has also pointed out the rather desperate need for more funds for our emergency services. They provide an example of one instance, “Police and fire vehicles have broken down while responding to emergency calls. Secondary vehicles have been called out when that has happened; in one instance, a TPD officer’s car died on the way to a domestic-violence call, and the officer ran the rest of the way to the home.”
Here are some statistics that they found
- Cardiac monitors, which paramedics use to send your medical information to the emergency room while in transit, can’t talk to modern wireless devices and, according to the city, are “beyond their service life.”
- 68 percent of TFD’s pumper fleet, 42 percent of ladder trucks and 90 percent of ambulances have reached the 10-year/100,000-mile recommended replacement threshold.
- 65 percent of the marked patrol car fleet and 80 percent of unmarked TPD vehicles have reached the five- to seven-year/125,000 mile recommended threshold for replacement.
Please everyone make sure to turn in your ballot soon!
This is an election that is conducted entirely by mail-in votes.
The day of the election is May 16.
The city advises that anyone who wants to vote by mail
should put their ballot in the mailbox
by May 10.
However You Choose to Vote, Please Do Vote!