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The Marana Town Council is set to vote on a proposed half-cent-per-dollar sales tax to fund a $40 million community center and aquatic facility at the municipal complex. 

The council will decide whether to move forward with the project at its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

The 55,000-square-foot community center would include an indoor gym, weight rooms, meeting rooms, pools, sport fields and more.

The sales tax would be in effect for seven years, according to town officials.

If the Marana Council approves the tax, completing the center’s design should take roughly a year, and accounting for 18 months of construction will put a rough completion date on the project for 2024, according to Town Manager Terry Rozema. 

The proposed “multi-generational” community center comes after a survey in the Town’s Parks & Rec Master Plan identified the community’s desire for more recreation in northern Marana. Town officials have been presenting the plan at various forums for the last few months.

“So there’s a lot of people saying they want the center,” Rozema said during the public outreach. “But it’s one thing to want it and another thing to say how to pay for it. So we’re finding out how badly people want this, and if they’re willing to pay a half-cent sales tax to pay for it.” 

The new sales tax would potentially go into effect as soon as January 2022, should the Town Council approve it next week. Marana has previously used a temporary sales tax increase to fund other municipal projects, including the new police headquarters at the municipal complex, as well as the Twin Peaks overpass. At the end of seven years, the Town may end the tax, or shift it to fund another municipal project. This new tax would increase the town’s sales tax from 2% to 2.5%, matching nearby Oro Valley’s sales tax rate. 

“I think one of the things we’ve gotten positive feedback from people on is that we’re not raising taxes and people have no idea where they’re going. It’s a clear result,” Rozema said. “Of course, everyone will say their taxes are already high enough, and that their property taxes keep going up. But we want to educate people that we don’t collect their property tax. Marana does not have a property tax. That is Pima County and it goes to the fire district and school districts. This sales tax would primarily come from retail: entertainment, lumber, tools.” 

The community and aquatic center would be built on the northwest corner of Bill Gaudette Drive and Marana Main Street on land that the Town already owns near the Marana Road exit on Interstate 10. The community center would be an addition to the Marana Municipal Complex, already home to police and fire stations, a health center, town court, a post office and more. It’s an area in north Marana where planners hope to develop a “downtown” gathering spot.

“Some people are questioning where we’re putting it, and we chose the location we did for several reasons,” Rozema said. “Number one, we’re not in the business of competing with the private sector. And northern Marana has zero recreational facilities like this, but southern and eastern Marana have LA Fitness and Anytime Fitness and Crossfit. And the second thing is that we’re trying to build out the downtown and municipal complex. And as a community facility, we believe the traffic it can receive will spur more economic activity to Marana Main.”  

The “multi-generational” center would host facilities for all ages, from children through seniors, as well as the special needs population. Should the center be built, Rozema says the existing recreation center at nearby Ora Mae Harn District Park may be converted into exclusively a senior center. Ora Mae Harn park also houses an existing community pool. However, Marana recreation supervisor Kevin Goodrich has listed challenges with the current community pool, such as it being nearly 50 years old, ADA accessibility, small size and lack of adequate shallows for children.

 

The Marana Town Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, at  11555 W. Civic Center Drive.

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