Pima County taxpayers dig deep to pay for state cuts

Published: May. 18, 2011 at 10:16 PM MST|Updated: May. 26, 2011 at 4:23 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

When the state slashes its budget, Pima County bleeds.

That's the message county supervisors gave to a couple of state lawmakers who crashed the supervisors budget hearing this week.

The county says $93 million of its operating budget is sent to the state to help balance Arizona's budget and a disproportionate amount falls close to home.

"We are at the bottom of the food chain," District 1 Republican supervisor Ann Day says. "That's the way counties were structured."

When the state passes its budget cuts on to the counties, she says, the buck stops here.

The real end of the line however, is the Pima County taxpayer.

When the state cuts commercial rates, the local taxpayer feels the pinch.

"What that means is our homeowners are going to be paying a bigger percentage of the overall tax burden for the county, city, the community college, the school districts, all of that," says Board chair Ramone Valadez.

The two state lawmakers, Rep. Vic Williams, a Republican from District 26, and Rep. Ted Vogt, a Republican from District 30, came to the meeting uninvited and unannounced.

Both filled out speaker requests and addressed the board about a proposed 11 cent property tax increase.

The county unloaded on the pair, accusing Arizona of balancing its budget on the backs of the counties, especially Pima County.

"That's an inflammatory statement," Williams told District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson. "And it's not true."

Vogt echoed that sentiment.

"The state has asked the counties to pitch in but it's not balancing the budget on the backs of our subdivisions," he told the board.

Pima County passed the increased rate but said because of lower assessed valuations, no one will see an increase in property taxes this  year.

Pima County says it has cuts its budget by $136 million, lowered its property tax levy $18 million and cut 1,000 employees.

"It's doing its share," says District 5 supervisor Rich Elias.

"When you keep getting more and more bills and seven million dollars is in cash and the state won't tell you where they're using it, then it gives me the feeling we're getting hosed," he says.

"They're hosing the Pima County taxpayers is what they're doing," he says.