This is a time of great possibilities for Tucson and its people.
If the City’s leaders continue to make the right choices for the future funding of transportation and roads after utilizing the funds provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan.
Already, the city, thanks to the initiative of Mayor Regina Romero and the members of the Tucson City Council have already embarked on several projects to modernize the area. These include:
- The Electric Vehicle Roadmap Plan.
- The Million Trees Planning Initiative.
- Move Tucson.
- School and Commercial Electric Buses
- Cleaning water, especially with regards to PFAS.
At the Tucson City Council Study Session meeting tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., City Manager Michael Ortega will present several sales tax revenue generating options for funding future transit and road improvements after federal and other local proposition funding sources lapse.
Please click here to access the report.
The proposals range from a quarter cent sales tax that will generate $37 million a year targeted toward infrastructure to a full penny that will result in $148 million in increased funding for roads, pavement, and transit.
This needs to be made clear to all Tucson Residents.
Without this sales tax, the City will not be able to fund all of its long-range infrastructure needs.
In an oped written in the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero outlined the pivotal juncture Tucson was at with the choices ahead for the city’s future needs. These choices include approving a sales tax increase to help fund future transit and street improvements. It also includes helping to reform the voting and accountability structure of the area Regional Transportation Authority (RTA,) an organization, when if one reads it, seems like it was patterned on the Articles of Confederation (where one state no matter how large has the same voting power as another no matter how small) that governed this nation before it was proven ineffective to steer the country.
In her piece, Mayor Romero stated:
“Tucson is preparing for our future in a rapidly changing world. We are committed to building a Tucson that is prosperous and livable. Last year, thousands of Tucsonans helped create Move Tucson, our citywide mobility plan. They voiced their support for increasing transportation choices, reducing mobility barriers, improving safety, fixing our roads and centering equity and climate resilience.
We know what our community’s transportation needs are. We need to fix our roads and our infrastructure. We need safe passage for pedestrians and bicyclists. We need shaded sidewalks and bus shelters. We need cross-town mobility.
This is what’s on my mind as my colleagues on the Council and I consider how to fund our transportation future. Our city manager presented a plan identifying potential sources to fund this future including accessing historic federal infrastructure monies made available by the bipartisan infrastructure act.
We have two important choices in front of us: whether or not to participate in RTA Next and what type of sales tax initiative to put in front of voters as Proposition 101 expires.”
The issue of the RTA may be more crucial for Mayor Romero and the Tucson City Council as it seeks to fund future Tucson transportation needs.
The Mayor wrote in her OpEd for the Arizona Daily Star:
“I must be clear about the two issues that must be resolved for Tucson to participate in RTA Next: the delivery and funding of current Regional Transportation Authority projects and fair representation on governing bodies and committees that make important decisions.
To fulfill current RTA projects, we need a blueprint to solve current funding gaps to avoid placing an unfair burden on Tucson taxpayers. The RTA identified a gap of $78 million to $121 million.”
“Our second issue concerns fair representation. Tucson residents represent 52% of Pima County’s total population, according to U.S. Census data. About 56% of the region’s workers are employed in Tucson and nearly 70% of Pima County’s retail sales are in Tucson. Our city is the economic hub of our region where nearly every resident of Pima County — regardless of where they live — drive on city streets. Yet, despite our share of population and economic footprint, Tucson only has 1 of 9 votes, or 11% of the total, on the RTA and Pima Association of Governments (PAG) governing boards.”
“While neighboring jurisdictions face many of the same issues, Tucson has fundamentally different transportation needs due to our size, the age of our infrastructure and our demographics.
Tucson has the greatest population density, with 2,300 residents per square mile compared with fewer than 300 residents per square mile in the Town of Marana. 81% of the region’s public transit commuters live in Tucson. This underscores the complexity inherent in our capital improvement projects.”
“When it comes to our transportation needs, Tucsonans prefer we invest in improving roads and neighborhood streets, improving safety for all users and investing in transit and climate resiliency before expansion and widenings.
Finally, Tucson is more demographically and socioeconomically diverse than our suburban counterparts. We are home to 60% of the region’s residents under the age of 35, 60% of the region’s communities of color, and 73% of the region’s military families.”
For Tucson to be able to meet its long-term, future, infrastructure needs, it needs to approve a new sales tax to meet its goals outside of the current RTA structure.
Otherwise, many of the infrastructure improvements provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the local propositions will eventually be for naught as there will be no adequate revenue stream to maintain and supplement them.