This included 61 cents primary plus 2 cents secondary tax rate increases.
Since taking office, Governor Doug Ducey and the state legislature have worked towards spending cuts to balance the state budget. Among those cuts was the subsidy for this violation of the constitutional cap on primary property taxes. I call this responsible governance. I'm baffled as to why the county administrator believed this subsidy would continue especially given the fact that the state budget was structurally out of balance when Governor Ducey took office.
Meanwhile, Pima County continues to spend on nonessentials such as borrowing money to build a $15 million facility for the World View Balloon Company, continuing the annual subsidy in the amount of $15 million for medical education for UA , purchasing land for close to $1 million from the Greek Orthodox church and spending $16 million for 2 parcels of land we couldn't afford.
In 2015, Pima County filed a special action lawsuit against the State of Arizona in the State Supreme Court regarding this constitutional cap and not surprisingly, Pima County lost that case. After all, Pima County is in violation of the state constitution. It is estimated the county's legal bills were close to $100 thousand dollars. In addition, Pima County was ordered by the court to pay the state's legal bills which total another $53 thousand dollars.
But, we didn't stop there. Pima County immediately filed a second lawsuit and this case is now pending in Maricopa County Superior Court. So now, legal expenses continue to pile up on the backs of the taxpayer. If those expenses and verdict follow the same path as the original lawsuit, which is highly probable given that we are in violation of the state constitution, taxpayers will most likely be ordered to, once again, foot the bill for even more legal expenses.
Make no mistake, Supervisors Valadez, Carroll, Elias and Bronson all agreed to follow the path of pursuing legal fights against the state. I didn't support these actions and feel it best to find a more responsible way to resolve the situation amongst the taxing jurisdictions in violation of this cap. I prefer we work
with the Governor and the state legislature to resolve this problem as opposed to filing lawsuits.
And, it's about learning to balance our own budget. Debt is always going to be absorbed somewhere-somebody's got to pay the bills. Curt Prendergast's March 20, 2016
Arizona Daily Star
cites Supervisor Bronson as stating that what the state is doing is "taxation without representation." The last time I checked we have legislative district representatives who represent us at the state legislature. Supervisor Elias attributes the PTOC's decision to pass the taxation to Pima County as a "politically motivated punishment." I submit to you the ongoing lawsuits and this kind of rhetoric aren't helpful to resolving this problem.
Supervisors Bronson, Elias, Carroll and Valadez can mislead the public into thinking it's the " state's fault" for all of the county woes, however, bottom line ... Pima County taxing jurisdictions are in violation of the constitution! It is time to end the finger pointing. It is time for us to understand we are responsible for solving this problem. We must act now as we budget for the next fiscal year to make the necessary spending cuts to fix this problem.
Quite frankly I am shocked the county administrator didn't "plan" for the potential scenario the county might have to absorb this $15.8 million for this fiscal year. Until this litigation is resolved, the county will most likely be absorbing the amounts in violation over the constitutional limit. It is time we end the litigation and work with the state to solve the problem. We must get our fiscal house in order by focusing on core services as well as eliminating the pork in the budget along with the nonessential spending, some of which I identified above. The failure of the bond election clarified that taxpayers understand it is time to exercise caution with our spending.
Pointing fingers at the state and misleading taxpayers about the true state of Pima County financial affairs does nothing to resolve the problem.
To find out more about what's going on in Pima County, tune in to hear me on the James T. Harris show-104.1 KQTH on Wednesday, March 23rd at 5:05 pm . (livestream here)