A Message from Supervisor Ally Miller
Pima County Board of Supervisors must prioritize Spending   


The debate has begun on whether or not to support a gas tax levied on all of us in Pima County. Sadly, this tax will affect the poorest among us - those who are struggling and cutting their budgets just to put food on the table.

The latest proposal by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to the Department of Transportation is to have them initiate a "Self Help" program requiring homeowner associations who want their streets paved to pay 50% of the cost and then the Department of Transportation will pay the balance. Is this fair?   Don't  you already pay vehicle license fees and gas taxes which should be used for maintaining your roads? Did you pay road impact fees when your home was built? 

I was elected on a platform of transparency in government, to make sure Pima County government lives within its means. Every day at kitchen tables all over Pima County, families are prioritizing their budgets and living within their means. I have seen first hand the waste and abuse of your tax dollars and I will fight to put an end to the ever growing Pima County government.


From 1997 to 2007 Pima County government ballooned from $640 million to $1.3 billion. Population increased just 25% and government grew by 100%.


We  have a spending problem in Pima County


We do not need another tax increase; what we do need is to prioritize spending on essential core services. I have compiled some facts that show you how poorly we are managing the property taxes we've already collected from you, the property owners of Pima County.


  •  You voted to approve a bond package which involved a $76 million budget for a new court house. As we put the finishing touches on the building, the budget has ballooned to $156 million complete with a $317,000 art project from an artist in California. This $156 million consists of $22.4 million from the General Fund that should have been used for road repairs, and $58 million in non-voter approved debt. This is more debt for Pima County residents. 
  • The prior board majority has increased your wastewater fees by over 43% since 2009. For most places in Pima County it costs more to flush your toilet than to fill it.
  •  Pima County spent millions fighting Marana's desire to control their destiny and own and maintain their own wastewater system. Marana spent millions in court fighting Pima County for control of their wastewater. This situation was a lose/lose for all residents of Pima County. 
  • Pima County continues to spend money and resources fighting Rosemont Copper even after the process has clearly moved beyond its jurisdiction. Supervisor Ray Carroll speaking on a talk show during the 2012 election cycle estimated the County had already spent $400,000 as of 2012, and recently, the Board of Supervisors approved another $100,000 for water experts to fight the opening of the mine. All of this was done to fight an inevitable opening of this mine and to prevent residents from being able to obtain high paying jobs. It is time to end the job killing mentality of this board. 
  • Pima County has a Communications Department with a staff of 10 people and a $900,000 annual budget. Yet on February 18, 2014, the Board of Supervisors approved with a 4-1 vote a $100,000 contract with an outside Public Relations firm to perform public relation services related to the Arroyo Chico/High School Wash project. Does that make sense to you? 
  • As of June 30, 2013, Pima County has funded $185.1 million to the University Medical Center South Campus. Look forward to $15 million per year coming from your property tax General Fund...indefinitely. In addition, Pima County added a $66 million psychiatric urgent care center with bonds you are paying for and leases the hospital to UMC South Campus for just $10 per year. 
  • Pima County hands out millions of dollars per year in support of dozens of non-profits including $75,000 to Literacy Connects, $34,000 to Catholic Community Services, and $22,500 to Humane Borders, just to name a few. 
  • Pima County spends half a million per year on a regional economic development organization, TREO, even after EVERY other municipality ceased funding due to the lack of results for their investment.
  •  The baseball park that should have been built downtown will be paid off in December 2017 after creating a tax-levying public improvement district in 1991 to fund the $38 million project. Your tax dollars subsidizes the operations to the tune of $1.5 million per year. Pima County taxpayers still owe $10 million for this Stadium. 
  • With voter approved bond dollars, Pima County has committed over $250 million on buying up open space land and ranches which forever takes them off property tax rolls. Almost 90% of the land in Pima County is owned by State, Federal, County or Tribal Government. 
  • Pima County's total debt outstanding is $1.4 billion. This includes both voter approved and non-voter approved debt. Debt is Debt no matter how your parse it. All the other Counties in Arizona combined weigh in at $350 million. Does this bother you? Pima County's extraordinary amount of debt has us headed in the wrong direction....directly down the road of Detroit and the City of Tucson. 
  • The Loop, which is a bike system along the various river beds, is estimated at a total cost of $84 million. These trails are important for erosion control but connecting the bike routes added millions to the cost. While this is a nice addition to the community and billed as an economic driver for tourism, do we believe visitors don't notice the roads they drive on while they are here?   Riding bicycles on these roads is a hazard to the health and safety of all residents and visitors to this community.  
  • Pima County bought $6 million in industrial land around Raytheon from the region's largest industrial property developer.   Pima County taxpayers bought the land to develop into industrial properties. Does this make economic sense? The County buys land from an industrial developer to develop into industrial development...why did we buy this land? If it was ready for development, the developer should have developed it. The latest update is $14 million for design and moving the Hughes access road to accommodate this development. Pima County has no firm commitments or contracts signed to justify spending dwindling road funds on this project.  


Pima County experienced a huge windfall of property tax dollars during the recent run up in property values and the building boom. I have constituents in District 1 that saw 10, 13 and 27% property tax increases year over year. Where did all that extra money go? When values plummeted did you notice your property tax bill drop? NO, and neither did mine. For Tax Year 2015 southeast side residents of Pima County saw their valuations go up an average of 19% for tax year 2015. This is after property tax rates increased by 7.3% in 2014 and keep your eyes open..the County Administrator is suggesting he wants another rate increase again this year!


The talking point that the Board majority likes to keep drumming is that the Arizona Legislature 'swept' Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF). Many of you have seen my presentation on HURF and now know only a small amount that amounted to roughly 4% of all HURF revenue has been swept by the State. The money has been spent on bond payments, salaries, and overhead for the Department of Transportation. While other Counties use some monies for these purposes, it is clear that Pima County is not maintaining roads while other Counties are. The potholes do not need analysis or spin...We see them every day as we drive on our disgraceful and dangerous streets.


If the HURF sweeps are such a tragic impact, ask yourself 'why are the roads in Oro Valley and Marana so well maintained?' If you've traveled to Maricopa County or any of the cities and towns to the north, you'll see paved roads, manicured landscaping, and a pride in their community. Unlike Pima County, these communities have prioritized their spending and kept up on their commitment to the people.


Now Pima County has swept the $800K of road repair money from District 1 taxpayers who pay 33% of the property taxes in Pima County. This money was diverted to District 4 where a school district official offered to pay $100K of the road repairs.   The reason for removing the money from District 1 which has the highest rate of failed roads in Pima County, 72% vs. 62% for the rest of the districts was a political move that hurts all residents of Pima County. The children in District 1 are in a dangerous situation on Thornydale  road and other roads. District 1 children deserve better.   Punishing District 1 for the boards lack of action over the past 15 years is wrong. Waiting until you have a $270 million problem is more than a disagreement. It is clear mismanagement.


This can just as easily  happen with Bond money as it just happened with road repair funds. With a board majority vote...the funds can be moved.   Remember this when you are asked to vote for another Bond election.


It's easy for government to keep asking you for more money. It's much tougher for any government to live within its means because piling more on your tax bill is the easy solution. Pima County Board of Supervisors must eliminate nonessential spending instead of coming to you each year with our hand out asking for more. 

I will be working to identify and eliminate nonessential spending in the upcoming budget planning process.  District 1 held the first ever budget review in 2013 and we will be doing the same for the upcoming budget process. 



Ally Miller

Pima County Board of Supervisors, District1 (520)724-2738

Email : pimainfo2013@gmail.com

Copyright � 2013. All Rights Reserved.