As you know, the term ‘elect’, means: to choose someone to represent you by voting. In other words, elected officials should represent the people and listen to the needs of their constituents in their role as legislators. Sadly, this does not seem to happen here in Pima County. On Tuesday, June 17th, the Board of Supervisors, myself included, listened to over 2 hours of comments from the public, urging the Board not to raise property taxes or proceed with using taxpayer funds to purchase an almost $9 million parcel of land for soccer fields.
Residents and business owners packed the meeting room and repeatedly stated they were being taxed out of their homes and frustrated at the idea the Board would even consider purchasing and further developing land which will ultimately cost an estimated $35 million for a soccer complex by Kino Stadium.
For a brief moment, albeit very brief, I thought that my fellow Supervisors, as ‘elected’ officials, would pause and consider the comments of the public. Instead, the majority of the Board approved the budget and tax increase and Supervisors Valadez, Bronson, Elias and Carroll voiced strong support of the soccer complex. I voted ‘NO’ on every part of the budget and tax increase. I was the only member to speak out against the use of taxpayer funds for the soccer deal and urged my fellow Supervisors to work with me and begin to earn the trust of taxpayers by not approving the budget.
The budget adoption meeting lasted over 5 hours and the actions of the Board resulted in the primary property tax rate being increased (16.67 percent ) to $4.27 per $100 of assessed value; up $0.61 from Fiscal Year 2013/2014. As for soccer, they will take $1.75 million to use as a down payment on 167 acres of land.
In the past few days, I have heard from business owners, retirees, stay at home Mothers and young professionals. I have received letters and messages from concerned residents from places as far as Vail and Ajo. The message is always the same: thank you for fighting for us, what can we do now?
The answer: don’t forget ‘elect’ means that as a voter you have a choice in who represents you and if you are not satisfied with that representation, your choice can reflect that in 2016 when all 5 Supervisors are up for re-election.
Thank you to everyone who attended the budget adoption meeting. I will continue to fight for transparency, accountability and integrity in Pima County and am honored to serve you as your County Supervisor.
A special thanks to individuals and organizations who spoke against this tax increase: Lea Marquez Peterson - Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Robert Medler/Mike Varney - Tucson Chamber of Commerce, Steve Huffman - Tucson Association of Realtors, Lawrence Lucero/Steve Eddy – TEP, Kevin McCarthy – Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA).
(Editor’s Note: Ally Miller is the supervisor for District 1 of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. She can be reached at 724-2738.)