Frustrated homeowners in HOA, non-HOA neighborhoods consider taxing themselves by establishing Community Improvement Districts (CIDs)
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
How should Pima County, Arizona pay for more than $330 million in deferred road maintenance in its unincorporated areas?
The issue is controversial. Roads all over Pima County are in poor condition, and residents are growing impatient waiting for repairs.
Decades of development, most of it in unincorporated communities governed by homeowners associations, have created hundreds of miles of roads that the County is supposed to maintain. But Pima County lacks the money to repair and resurface its roads.
Several neighborhoods, including HOA governed communities such as Madera Reserve and Portillo Ridge, as well as non-HOA neighborhoods, are considering establishing Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) to tax themselves for temporary road repairs.
The hope is that, if a majority of homeowners vote in favor of a neighborhood CID, Pima County will make immediate improvements to crumbling roads with crack filling, recoating, or resealing.
However, within 5 years, even CID roads will require a complete mill and resurfacing.
Essentially, if property owners obligate themselves to a CID, they would be subject to additional taxes for “extra” services to their own neighborhoods. Depending on the size of the neighborhood and the length of roads to maintain, each parcel owner could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars out-of-pocekt in additional property taxes for short-term road repairs.
Understandably, many homeowners are reluctant to pay significantly more taxes than other County residents.
In the meantime, state Legislators are now considering SB 1147, a proposal to allow Arizona Counties to increase their excise tax up to 1%. Those promoting the bill say the tax increase would generate revenue needed for transportation services, including road repairs. The excise tax would be imposed on gross sales or income of businesses in each County. Initially, the proposed excise tax increase must be placed on the ballot for voters to approve. Counties could choose to make the increased excise tax perpetual.
In addition, Pima County is considering increasing its sales tax, possibly while reducing property taxes. Proponents claim that two sales tax proposals under consideration would raise millions of dollars more in revenue, compared to projected revenues from property taxes alone.
The fundamental issue: should road maintenance be funded in a piecemeal fashion, neighborhood by neighborhood, or should safe roads and transportation infrastructure be funded more equitably by the general public?
Public opinion seems to be swaying in favor of spreading out the cost of road maintenance as a public, rather than private service.
Stay tuned for updates.
Second Green Valley HOA looks to tax itself for road work
By Kitty Bottemiller firstname.lastname@example.org Mar 21, 2018 Updated 10 hrs ago (0)
Madera Reserve off Whitehouse Canyon Road is the second Green Valley neighborhood to request permission to fund its own road work through a county improvement district.
The hope is that it will stave off the need for further work until Pima County has enough funding to address it, said John Garen of Santa Rita Management, whose clientele includes Madera Reserve HOA.
“We’ve finally reached the point where … we’re ready to get signatures” from property owners requesting to form a district, he said after months of discussion with HOA leadership. They are seeking a mineralized coating — more than a crack sealing, but short of a mill and fill removal and replacement of surface material. The neighborhood has 4.7 miles of paved, county-owned streets still in good repair, but in need of preservation work soon.
HOA leader Chuck Dorr, who also serves on Green Valley Council’s Road Priority Committee, is following potential funding measures. They include state legislative action on a proposed half-cent sales tax increase not requiring unanimous Board of Supervisor approval as is currently the case, but a simple majority vote by three of the five supervisors. If approved, the proposal would then go before Pima County voters.
Last month, Senate Bill 1147 was drafted, calling for allowing the county’s existing half-cent sales tax to double to one cent, and be dedicated to road repairs administered by the Regional Transportation Authority. The measure is expected to be voted on today, March 21, by the House Ways & Means Committee.
A separate proposal, floated by Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy, whose District 4 includes Green Valley, is expected to be considered by the supervisors April 18.
It calls for repealing the recently-enacted, 25-cent property tax increase earmarked for road repair, then the board passing a countywide, half-cent sales tax to generate roughly $75 million each year, or more than $800 million over 10 years. The 25-cent increase is estimated to raise roughly $19 million yearly, or $190 million over 10 years.
A third proposal is in discussion, to split income raised by a proposed half-cent sales tax increase, with a portion devoted to reducing the county’s primary property tax, and Highway User Revenue Funds to make up the difference.
Not counting inflation or ongoing maintenance, ballpark cost to repair unincorporated Pima County roads is $330 million.
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