Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Vote on the G.O. Bonds Proposal

Tonight, the Mayor and Council considered a proposal to place a measure on the November 2012 ballot a proposal for voters to consider authorizing General Obligation Bonds for road repair.

Here is the statement I made on this proposal.

Mr. Mayor, I want to explain my vote.

In 2010, the voters of Tucson had before them a proposed half-cent sales tax to go, for three years, towards the core services – police, fire, parks and streets.

This proposal was soundly rejected by more than 60% of the voters, mostly due to the economic downturn the city was facing.

Since then, economic conditions have improved but not to the point that I could recommend placing another measure on the ballot in November 2012.

This proposal, as previously stated, would cost a minimum of $350,000 to get on this year’s ballot, since again it is not a city election and would involve another governmental entity.

As was the case in 2010, this proposal would be at the bottom of the November general election ballot. 

With the federal elections, state races, potential state ballot measures, school bond override proposals, all of which would be on the ballot, before any Tucson measure, the question of ballot fatigue is raised.

Then there is the proposal itself.

This G.O. bond proposal would only affect those who own property within the city limits. 

Recently, both Pima county and Pima community college raised their property tax rates. 

Would the voters approve a potential third rise in their property taxes – something they may not be able to afford? 

Why then should only one segment of the Tucson population pay for road repair, when others, who may not own a home, but drive a vehicle or motorcycle, or even bicycle, wouldn’t be affected?

The Mayor and Council received this as a late delivery, less than four days before a decision is to be made and facing a deadline of June 30 to get any proposal on the November 2012 general election ballot.

There are other reasons for my reluctance to vote to place this on the November 2012 ballot.

I have had many calls to my office from my constituents, as well as seniors who are on a fixed income, saying they could not afford this.

This leads to the question of whether all options had been looked at, such as the neighborhood improvement district, or a street maintenance fee. 

The answer is that it was discussed on May 8, but there has been no follow up on this. When I posed follow up questions to staff on this, I had received conflicting answers.

Then there is outreach to Tucsonans.

A survey was conducted for this proposal but how many of the 401 respondents were property owners in Tucson?

How many of the 401 respondents had voted in the 2011 city election, the 2010 sales tax measure or even the 2009 city election, when there were other ballot measures of note being considered?

The survey report says only that they planned to vote in the 2012 general election.

There is also the question of how the proposal was stated to the respondents of this survey. 

The last time the city issued general obligation bonds, it was in 2000. 

The city still has more than $200 million in outstanding bonds and the payment to be made for 2013, according to what was stated during the discussions by the Mayor and Council, and would be $28 million dollars.

This is a proposal for five years but what is being done now, in the upcoming fiscal year?

For fiscal year 2013, the city has $20 million earmarked for roadwork and repair of arterials and neighborhood streets. 

The timing of the 2010 measure was not right, as I feel the timing is not right with this proposal either.

All options have not been fully vetted and considered and I am not comfortable going forward with another ballot measure that will affect only a certain segment of the population.

So it is with that I will vote “no.”