The race is on for those who support Vail incorporation and those against it

Published: Jul. 4, 2023 at 8:32 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - For the second time in 10 years, supporters of Vail incorporation are hoping to get on the ballot. The last time, 56% of the voters said no to becoming its own town.

Supporters hope this time will be different. The opposition is hoping for the same outcome.

But first, it will be a challenge to even get on the ballot.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors will vote at its next meeting on July 11 to allow the supporters to gather signatures. It’s a ministerial task, but it starts the clock for the process.

They will have until August 8 to gather 1,537 valid signatures to get on the November 8 ballot.

Even though it isn’t seen as a high number, it could be a heavy lift in a small community like Vail.

“If they approve it on the 11th, we will be out there on the 12th collecting signatures, said David Hook, the President of Incorporate Vail Arizona.

But he feels confident they will get it done.

“If it was only 10 or 15 people collecting signatures, it would be tight, but I will tell you we have a lot more people out there collecting signatures than that,” he said.

Vail is going through what many other small towns here have faced in the past. Either become your entity or be swallowed up by the city of Tucson through annexation.

Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita all incorporated, in part, because Tucson was encroaching, as it is towards Vail right now. It recently annexed two state land trust parcels near the town. “We might just be our own little unique community that does our own unique thing,” Cook said. “And this is the opportunity for us to be able to do that, for sure.”

But there is opposition. Call it dueling websites. This one for incorporation and the one against it, called Inform Vail.

Inform Vail says it’s not against incorporation altogether, saying it will likely happen at some time because the community continues to grow. It’s up to 20,000 to 21,000 now and keeps expanding.

But the group is against this incorporation proposal because they say it is ill-conceived.

“If the businesses support it and the chamber of commerce supports it, then fine ‚incorporate yourselves,” said Patti Woodbury-Kuvik, a 40-year resident who is opposed to the current proposal. “Don’t come out knocking on our doors and ask us to pay for it.”

It’s estimated if the town incorporates, it would be eligible for up to $10 million in state-shared revenues, which Cook believes is enough to sustain the town initially.

But the opponents say residents would have to pay because Vail has no commercial tax base to raise revenue, making the current incorporation map put the cart before the horse.

“Build the commercial area, build their businesses,” Woodbury-Kuvik says. “Make it a thriving downtown Vail.”

She believes the town needs a commercial center before incorporating to establish as tax base.

But building a downtown or thriving commercial base can take decades, as it has for Marana or Sahuarita. Both started with smaller population bases than Vail has now, but it has still taken years to build the base.

Supporters say they just don’t have that kind of time.

“There are 91 other cities and towns in the state of Arizona and they all seem to be able to do it,” Cook said. “And I don’t know if there anything unique about Vail that would preclude us from being successful.”

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