Pima County officials say they're being cheated out of gas tax money

Pima County officials say they're being cheated out of gas tax money

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima County officials said they are being cheated by the state of Arizona and Maricopa County when doling out gas tax money.

Gas taxes, called HURF (Highway User Revenue Funds), amount to 18 cents a gallon. The rate has stayed the same since 1993.

Every county collects and sends the gas tax revenue to the state, which then sends it back to fix and build roads and streets. But the process of determining who gets what is where the system breaks down, according to the county.

The money is distributed per person, and so it would appear all counties would get a share based on the people who live there. But that's not case.

Per capita, Pima County gets $115.39.

Per capita, Maricopa County gets $343.52, according to a memo released by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

The average is $158.27.

Pima County ranks No. 11 among the state's 15 counties, even though it has the most residents living in the unincorporated areas, 80,000 more than Maricopa County.

Pima County residents get taxed twice for the same road improvements.

First, they pay the state taxes which should go to road repair. And secondly, because it does not, the county must take money from the general fund or float bonds. But changing the system to be more fair is likely a long shot at best.

"We're the minority," said Jesse Lugo, a longtime lobbyist and business consultant. "We just don't have the political clout to make that change."

Huckelberry is urging the southern Arizona legislative delegation to introduce legislation to make the changes.

But that likely won't go too far either.

"We'd have to change the political party which is running things at the legislature or go to the voters," Lugo said.

Neither seems to be on the horizon.

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