TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to appeal a Superior Court decision which concluded the county violated state law when it signed an agreement and lease with World View, a space exploration company located near the Tucson International Airport.
The vote was along party lines, with the three Democrats voting for the appeal and the two Republicans voting against it.
The court ruled the county did not comply with a law which requires the county to appraise the property, hold a public auction, and negotiate a fair rental price before it agreed to build a $15 million complex for the company.
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World View agreed to lease the complex from the county for 20 years. At the end of the lease, the company has the option to buy or leave. If the company stays the 20 years, the lease payments will net the county a $4 million profit.
However, the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix filed suit against the county saying it did not comply with the process and risked taxpayer dollars. The suit also charged the county violated the state's gift clause but the court refused to rule on that charge.
Pima County disagrees with the court's ruling and says it puts a damper on its economic incentive package used to bring companies and business to Tucson.
"We're competitors," Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said. "We compete with other states - New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, California - for jobs. If it's easier to get those jobs relocated in those states, Arizona would be the loser."
Huckelberry said Pima County is being singled out by Goldwater because other cities use the same incentive strategies to entice commerce.
He says that's why a higher court of record needs to weigh in.
However, District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy, who voted against the appeal, thinks the court path is too risky.
"The appeal could lose," he said. "There's a lot on the line."
Christy would like to get all sides together to work out a solution to stay out of court.
"I don't see a willingness to find a solution without going to court," he said. "And that's what I'm trying to prevent."
The Goldwater Institute said it is disappointed in the county decision.
"...Instead of complying with the law, the county is further delaying justice by appealing," Jim Manley, the senior attorney at Goldwater Institute, said.