Archive for September, 2011
Why not let Marana manage its own assets?
Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 4:00 am
By Vice Mayor Patti Comerford, Special to The Explorer | 0 comments
The Town of Marana is seeking to manage its own sewer system. The town’s leadership believes we can better manage all our water resources for the benefit of the Marana community, our water customers and the environment. All across Arizona, cities and towns operate sewer systems, except in Pima County, where it is controlled by the county.
Pima County has yet again chosen to ignore the law in furtherance of its senseless and costly crusade to keep Marana from operating its own wastewater treatment facility. In its latest display of political gamesmanship, Pima County filed another lawsuit against Marana, seeking to invalidate a law passed by the Arizona State Legislature – a law that protects the rights of cities and towns in Pima County.
Throughout this battle, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has never been able to articulate an answer to this simple question: Why not let Marana manage its own assets?
Of course, Huckelberry wants us to believe that he has efficiently managed the Pima County sewer system. It sure smells like it along Interstate 10 near Prince Road. This terrible smell has plagued our region for years and is an embarrassment. Residents are negatively affected by the smell and it definitely impacts the image visitors and tourists have of our region.
Huckelberry is facing federal mandates to bring Pima County sewer plants into compliance under the Clean Water Act. He is issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to fix these deficiencies, thus causing an accelerated increase in consumers’ monthly sewer bills. Questions should be asked and truthful answers given about the financial condition of the county’s regional wastewater system.
For too long, Huckelberry has had a stranglehold on this region. His disrespect of our community and this region hurts our ability to be successful. He wants us to believe that his policies and directives are good for us. They are not. Pima County has real problems to deal with, such as fixing roads, cleaning up around the county, and working with, not against, cities and towns to attract good jobs.
Rather than spending quality time and resources fixing real problems, Huckelberry writes memos trying to tell others what to do and how to do it. We need a collaborative visionary leader at the county more than ever.
Marana’s mayor, council and staff are working hard to make this community a great place to live and do business. We believe in our community and strive to do the right thing for the right reasons. In spite of Huckelberry’s many efforts to punish and retaliate against Marana and its citizens, we have never lost our spirit.
No doubt Huckelberry will soon offer an opinion to the media in response to this message. It’s his way of obsessively having to respond to anyone who dares question his self-proclaimed authority. As Huckelberry once wrote in a memorandum to Marana, “Facts and circumstances change.”
The one fact that cannot change is that Marana wants to be a shining community that represents the best in local government. We want to solve problems, serve our community and be a positive example of good government. Why can’t the county do the same?
Patti Comerford is vice mayor of Marana.
© 2011 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
By Marshall J. Vest
EBR and Forecasting Project Director
September 1, 2011
In our annual update of 30-year projections, we’ve lowered the forecast significantly. That’s partly due to decennial Census counts that found far fewer residents than expected and new estimates that show population growth currently near zero, a phenomenon that is likely to extend a few more years. Also, there’s realization that fallout from the financial crisis will take a long time – perhaps a decade – to repair. Arizona already has lost a decade of growth, or more, in many industries (as measured by employment). And we are in the midst of losing an entire decade, or more, of population growth, due to low mobility rates. As a result, Arizona’s population will barely top ten million 30 years from now.
The recent recession wiped out a decade’s worth of progress, but Arizona’s growth will eventually return and once again rank amongst the fastest-growing states. In our annual update of our 30-year projections, we show Arizona’s population topping 10.2 million in the year 2041. That will easily put Arizona in the top ten largest states. By 2041, nearly four million more people will call Arizona home than live here today. Projections for each 10-year interval for selected aggregate measures are presented in Exhibit 1.
Highlights of the 30-year forecast include the following:
•Over 1.8 million new jobs will be created in Arizona over the next three decades, boosting the total to 4.2 million.
•Per capita personal income relative to the nation will continue its downward slide from 87% today to nearer 83% thirty years from now. This ratio peaked at 95% in 1971. Per capita income is an aggregate measure comprised of demographics (age structure), wage levels, industry mix, and labor force participation rates. The projected downward trend will keep Arizona near the bottom of all states on this measure.
•Arizona’s employment-to-population ratio plunged during the current recession and will remain well below its peak established in 2000 (43.3%), and after dipping below 37.2% last year, finishes in 2041 at 41.2%. Arizona’s ratio consistently runs 3-4 points lower than nationwide (Exhibit 2).
•As the population continues to age, an increasing share of personal income will come from transfer payments, of which social security is the largest component. The share will rise from 21% today to 26.5% by 2040. Per capita transfers in Arizona today are roughly equal to the corresponding nationwide measure.
•Retail sales relative to income will continue to fall, dropping below 18% from nearly 45% in the early-1960s. An aging population that spends more on services (especially health care) and a smaller portion on taxable goods accounts for the drop. This has serious implications for a tax system heavily reliant on retail sales.
•Over the long term, migration flows will continue to account for the lion’s share of population growth. On average, natural increase (births minus deaths) accounts for one third while net migration provides the remainder. The latter varies significantly, of course, over the business cycle. During the recession, with mobility rates at a six-decade low, migration flows swung deeply negative for the first time in recorded history. By 2015 net migration will again approach 100,000 annually. Natural increase moved significantly lower during the recession due to falling births, but will stabilize at 40,000 new residents annually (Exhibit 3).
•Manufacturing, government, utilities, retail trade and mining will represent smaller shares of total jobs 30 years from now. Manufacturing’s share will decline from 6.2% to 4.0%, government from 17.0% to 14.2%, utilities from 0.5% to 0.3%, and retail trade from 12.3% to 12.0%. Mining jobs will all but disappear.
•Sectors that will gain the largest shares are professional and business services (from 14.3% to 16.7%), health care & social assistance (from 12.6% to 14.7%), and financial services (from 6.9% to 7.7%).
•In our “high” scenario, Arizona’s population reaches 11.2 million in 2041. In the “low” scenario, it is 9.8 million, compared to 10.2 million in the “most likely” scenario. Michigan, the seventh largest state, today has 9.9 million.
•Today, Arizona’s 6.4 million population ranks 16th, just ahead of Tennessee. In thirty years, Arizona likely will overtake Indiana, Massachusetts, Washington, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan to become the eighth largest state.
•The range for 2041 metro Phoenix population is 6.7 to 8.0 million. Metro Tucson’s range is 1.4 to 1.5 million people. The “Sun Corridor” megapolitan population (both metros — three counties combined) ranges from 8.1 to 9.5 million.
•By 2041, 71% of Arizona’s population will reside in the Phoenix metro area (Maricopa and Pinal counties). Metro Tucson (Pima County) will account for 14.2%. Today, the shares are 65.8% and 15.3%, respectively.
Arizona was the second-fastest growing state over the past decade, even though population growth disappeared during the recession. Low mobility rates will limit Arizona’s growth for a few more years, but growth will return to more historical levels by mid-decade.
A history of population growth and components of change are shown in Exhibit 4. During the 1970s and 1980s Arizona’s population swelled by nearly a million persons each decade. During the 1990s, a surge in migration pushed the gain to nearly 1.5 million. That pace appeared to be on track until the recession arrived in late 2007. The lack of jobs, accompanied by the loss of mobility due to the fall in housing prices and legislative action to restrict illegal immigration, brought population growth to a halt. So, for the decade just past, Arizona’s population swelled by “only” one-and-a-quarter million. Interestingly, almost half (45%) of the gain was due to natural increase. With mobility likely to remain at low levels for at least a couple more years, we expect population to increase by a little over one million during the “teens”. Our projections show net migration rising to 1.3 million per decade during the 20s and 30s.
Over the next 30 years, Arizona will add 3.6 million residents, or roughly half of the numbers here today. We can only guess what Arizona will be like, but it’s clear that a great deal of change lies ahead.
Tucson is like that lazy cousin that crashes on your couch, who’s always between jobs and who borrowed the $10k to start a new business swearing to never ask you for anything again. Our big brother up north, Phoenix on the other hand has been focusing on it’s future, building infrastructure and attracting an economic base to build from. Both the metro Phoenix and the Tucson markets have seen big busts driven by a real estate down turn. Phoenix is evolving, diversifying and working to get out of their whole – Tucson sadly is not. Phoenix will bounce back sooner under the leadership of ASU’s Michael Crow and other valley business and political leaders. Tucson has an interim city manager, and interim president of the university of Arizona and an economic development marketing organization with a difficult product to sell.
Put your bets on Phoenix to bounce back and rise from the ashes. We’ll be avoiding pot holes and shooting for the moon with boondoggles like Rio Nuevo.
From the AZ Star:
Arizona State University President Michael Crow is trying to remake the American public university, the online magazine Slate noted last month.
Now, Crow is making a pitch to remake the relationship between Tucson and Phoenix, as well.
He will speak Friday before a Tucson economic development group, TREO, on how the two oft-competing cities can collaborate on the business front.
His pitch will be how the two cities can collectively build a more sustainable economic base for the Sun Corridor, the urbanizing region in southern and central Arizona, anchored by Tucson and Phoenix, that is expected to grow significantly by 2040.
Crow has seen and fostered plenty of growth at ASU since becoming president in 2002. Enrollment has grown by 30 percent, to more than 72,000. The university has created more than 100 new degree programs since his arrival.
Here’s a Q&A with Crow on how to build the regional economy:
Q. Tell us how and why Tucson and Phoenix can cooperate in the name of the Sun Corridor.
A. The root of all this is that the Sun Corridor is one of 10 places in the U.S. called megapolitans, where most of the population growth will occur (in the next few decades). … I’ll be walking through how we find ways to leverage the advantages that Tucson and Phoenix already have. We’re not doing as well as we could be. One reason is that we’re not leveraging our advantages.
Q. What are some of them?
A. The most significant advantage is Arizona itself. It’s a fantastic natural place to be. Match it with the newness of the place and the spirit of innovation here, and we can advance anywhere we want to advance. We have to make a decision as to where we’re going. There’s nothing fighting against us. We are not like Cleveland or Baltimore where you are trying to work against what isn’t working anymore. All we’re trying to do is to think about what’s new.
Q. We’re not Cleveland. But our mainstay, the real estate industry, has collapsed as hard as the steel industry did in Ohio 30 years ago. Isn’t that an obstacle for us?
A. It’s not really an obstacle, at least regionally. As hard as that’s been for everyone, it’s not at the core of our productivity, our competitiveness. It’s an overbuilt real estate market. It has to adjust. As you move forward, you are not looking at collapsed businesses. You are looking at having to build new businesses. It’s easier to do that.
Q. But a lot of experts say our slowdown due to real estate could be the new normal for a long time. What’s going to change that?
A. Our fundamental problem is hypergrowth. We reached out a little too far. Now we need to get about reaching out for export-oriented businesses. For many people, the lower housing prices, as painful as they’ve been, for many businesspeople they have worked in our favor.
Q. How do we do that – reaching out for export-oriented businesses?
A. Pursue economic development activities together. Make sure we build the infrastructure necessary to support regional growth. We don’t have that now, for which Interstate 10 is just one example. We have to make sure we create an environment as friendly for business development as possible. We don’t have that.
Q. Maricopa County is a lot more conservative than Pima County politically. Is this schism an obstacle?
A. I don’t see political differences as an obstacle at all. We’re not talking about massive government action. We’re talking about ways to work together, and red versus blue doesn’t stand in the way. Typically, municipalities are very engageable. We have to figure out how to leverage cities and counties, with the small businesses and universities, and politics are not much of a part of that.
Q. We compete with Phoenix all the time for things and usually lose. In the Legislature, the Phoenix crowd outmuscles us all the time. Why should this turn out differently?
A. It turns out that some competition is good. For local places to compete for the site of the company, that’s OK, as long as everyone is pulling together for the next company to come to this region. We have to draw together and support each other’s advantages. We should all be finding ways to allow each city to accent its differences and use those differences in our overall marketing strategies. …
You have Phoenix and Tucson with unique, wonderful, complementary cultures. You offer a whole plethora of options. It gives you significantly more firepower when you are trying to attract, retain or grow new businesses. We just haven’t thought that way.
Q. But many people in Tucson feel, rightly or wrongly, lack of trust that Phoenix’s leadership has our interests at heart. The Legislature has a track record of taking actions perceived by city leaders here as being contrary to our best interests, such as their attempts to limit our city government’s powers. Why should we trust Phoenix leaders now?
A. Trust is a function of experience, wisdom and understanding. We need to work to expand each so that trust can be built. I am not familiar with the reasons behind a lack of trust and would have to say that in any event ‘that was then and this is now.’ It is time to set mutual goals and work toward those goals.
Q. After the bust, what’s going to bring the Sun Corridor back?
A. Yes, there has been an economic downturn. There hasn’t been a population decline (Pima County’s population dropped very slightly in 2010, but Arizona’s didn’t, census figures show). People are going to move here anyway. The question is will they be marginally employed and heavily supported by government subsidies? Or will we have a robust economy and steady economic growth?
It’s about whether economic growth and enhancement allow for the building of families and schools. It’s about employment and people making jobs or money. The highest-paying jobs are related to technology or exports. The rest of us, we support them. I don’t feel this is going to change. That is just raw demographics. We might be off by 10 percent, but the U.S. is still the fastest-growing industrialized nation in the world.
Q. How can we make this a business-friendly state without wrecking the natural setting that draws so many people?
A. I’m all for protecting the natural environment. It’s our leading asset. What one wants to do is to develop a business-friendly environment that doesn’t allow any deterioration of our natural environment. You have to have a tax policy and educational infrastructure. You have to have things that other businesses want. We haven’t done a good job of figuring that out.
Tickets have sold out for the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc. (TREO) luncheon Friday where ASU President Michael Crow will deliver the keynote address on the Sun Corridor.
The event begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton El Conquistador hotel, 10000 N. Oracle Road.
Contact reporter Tony Davis at email@example.com or 806-7746.
Posted: Friday, September 16, 2011 7:00 am | Updated: 11:58 am, Thu Sep 15, 2011.
The Tucson region has set another record – the median home price last month fell another 2 percent to $122,200 from its peak of $225,900 in February 2006. No doubt most of the rest of the country has gone through similar adjustments but economists say Pima County is in for a longer down cycle.
Admittedly, Phoenix fell more than Tucson during the recession but the Phoenix metropolitan area is already showing signs of recovery.
Tucsonans resist the Phoenix model. Phoenix has freeways while Tucson widens roads. Phoenix has two dozen municipalities in its metropolitan area all competing to have the safest neighborhoods, best businesses and superior quality of life. Tucson has five municipalities and more than 36 percent of its population living outside those cities towns where Pima County tries to maintain its stranglehold.
Even though residents resist doing anything that resembles our neighbors to the north, Tucsonans throughout the region need to realize Phoenix is recovering from the economic recession because companies have invested capital in facilities and are hiring people there.
In case you haven’t been keeping up:
Intel Corporation is spending $5 billion to build a new state-of-the-art chip-making plant in Chandler, which will bring the firm’s job base in the area to 9,200.
Republic Services Inc., an $8 billion waste management company relocated its headquarters to Phoenix from Florida in 2009 after at $6.1 billion merger with Allied Waste Industries, which had been its largest competitor. In Tucson, Republic operates SaguaroEnvironmental.
Insurer USAA expanded and added 450 jobs in Phoenix in 2009 as it consolidated and closed offices in Sacramento, Calif., and Norfolk, Va.
Stirling Energy Systems, which is based in Phoenix, received a $100 million investment in 2008 from NTR, a renewable energy company in Ireland that now has a controlling interest in the Arizona firm and is moving quickly to grow its business in the utility-scale solar market.
CyrusOne, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cincinnati Bell, just this month announced it has purchased a 40-acre parcel in Chandler where it will spend $150 million to build a 1 million square-foot data center.
Honeywell Aerospace, which is headquartered in Phoenix, is now the area’s third largest employer and just this month received a $450 million contract from NASA to help it extend the life of existing satellites and develop ground systems for new satellites.
Petsmart Inc., also headquartered in Phoenix, is the nation’s largest specialty pet retailer with $5.9 billion in sales last year through its 1,197 stores.
Electronics distributor Avnet Inc., also based in Phoenix, did $19.5 billion in sales last year.
Discount Tire Co., headquartered in Scottsdale, in May opened its 800th store, a location in northern California. It now operates with 13,000 employees fixing 6,000 flats a day and selling $3 billion worth of tires in 23 states per year.
Go Daddy, the domain name registry that has made a spash with its racy commercials, is headquartered in Scottsdale where its 2,900 employees brought in $741 million in revenue last year.
While Tucsonans may not want to admit it, these kinds of businesses bring both money and a quality of life to a region. Relocate America.com released its list of top 100 markets to live for 2011 and Phoenix, Scottsdale and Prescott are on it. Tucson isn’t. El Paso and Albuquerque also made the list.
We’re not advocating Tucson should be exactly like Phoenix but our economy would be a lot stronger now if we had leadership that would at least consider reading a page or two from the playbook Phoenix leaders are using.
Then, if Tucsonans are so bent on not becoming another Phoenix, we have to ask what do we want this region to become?
Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at firstname.lastname@example.org. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.
Homeowners who are unhappy with the tax bills now arriving in the mail should know there’s an annual process that allows them to appeal their value and stand a good chance of getting it cut.
Just ask County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
When he thought the County Assessor’s Office was dinging him unfairly after it pegged his home value for tax year 2010 at $1.1 million, he appealed, suggesting it was worth $850-ish, tops. The assessor re-measured, found he didn’t really have 5,800 square feet of living space, and dropped him to $975,000.
Normally, Huckelberry would have been paying taxes on that amount for two years under a state law that freezes values for an additional year following an appeal. The law was written to protect homeowners in more normal times, when values go up each year.
But with home values continuing to drop, Huckelberry then had to appeal his 2011 value to keep pace with the falling market. And for 2012, same song, different verse, with his most recent appeal landing his value at $640,000.
Assessor Bill Staples said the value is based on comparable sales and neighboring properties. “We care about every person who lives in Pima County, but the value of property stands on its own. We aren’t going to consider who lives there,” he said.
Huckelberry said he is just exercising the right that every taxpayer has.
“I pay what is appropriate,” he said. Besides, he added, “It’s not a question of who pays what, but about the equity in the tax base.”
Huckelberry has never been accused of not knowing his way around the system.
Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at email@example.com or 573-4243.
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/article_344bfaee-9827-548f-bb00-affa79799c3b.html#ixzz1YMVtgv9W
Jonathan Walker today (Sept. 13) announced he is retiring as president and CEO of the Tucson Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau effective March 2012.
The announcement was made by Lynn Ericksen, chair of the board of the MTCVB’s board of directors.
Walker’s continued presence at the MTCVB over the next six months will help ensure a seamless leadership transition, Ericksen said in his announcement. A search committee will be announced shortly.
The MTCVB has come under increased scrutiny lately with both Pima County and the City of Tucson conducting audits of the organization, especially with respect to the money the MTCVB receives from the government entities.
The Pima County audit noted the Tucson region has fallen behind other areas of the state in attracting tourists.
(CNN) — On a recent sunny Arizona morning, Judy Macintyre, a 72-year-old tourist from Minnesota, is ready to board a bus. But this is not just any tour. To Macintyre, it’s an opportunity to take an in-depth look at a controversial issue she wanted to explore for a long time.
The tour titled “Border Crisis: Fact and Fiction” is intended to allow tourists to see immigration at one of the hottest spots on the border. And that’s exactly what the adventurous Minnesotan wants to do.
“It’s such a complicated issue, and there’s so many sides to it, and people need to come together, work together instead of fighting against each other like they all seem to be doing right now,” says the retired professor who used to teach at the University of Minnesota business school.
Experiencing the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border up close is as simple as buying an $89 ticket. The Tucson, Arizona, office of Gray Line Tours is offering the trip twice a month.
The tour operator bills the trip as “a fact-finding mission” that allows tourists to draw their own conclusions. “Don’t let the politicians and news broadcasters become your only source of information,” the tour description says on the Gray Line Tours’ website.
Tourists are taken to the border fence. They take a look at a pedestrian bridge connecting the two countries. They see Customs and Border Protection agents in action at a crossing point, although they can’t get too close for security reasons. And then they go to the areas where more than a hundred immigrants die each year. Since last October, more than 130 migrants have died while trying to cross the Arizona desert, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
At one stop, they take a look at a water station for migrants crossing the desert. The tank was installed by Humane Borders, a human rights group. Tour operator Bob Feinman shows the blue, 65-gallon plastic tank filled with water to the tourists. He explains that for some people the tank is the difference between life and death.
“It’s a hundred-and-something degrees out here. You’re dying of thirst. That’s what this is for, with or without a map, whether you found it on purpose or whether you stumbled across it,” Feinman says.
Near the town of Arivaca, Arizona, tourists are also taken for a walk in the unforgiving Arizona desert.
Sherlee Terres, a tourist taking the trip, says the desert walk gave her a good idea about what migrants experience.
“I wouldn’t make it three miles. It just seems so desolate. I’m not from Arizona originally. I was just looking at the branches with the thorns and thought, ‘wow, what would happen if you were trying to get through, a thorn would just tear your clothes and your skin,’” Terres says.
The tour also includes a get-together with ranchers who want a more secure U.S.-Mexico border and who are deeply concerned about drug traffickers and smugglers.
Dan Bell, one of the ranchers who takes time to speak with the tourists, is concerned about border security and the impact of illegal migration to his property.
“The border is secure in areas where it was easiest to secure. The places that are really difficult to secure are the places that remain wide open, and those are the places where most of our ranches are located on,” Bell says.
Tourists also hear from those who advocate easier access of products and migrant labor to the United States. Christopher Ciruli, former chairman of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, says that trade between the two countries is very important for communities on both sides of the border.
“We need to facilitate trade between the two countries. We need to facilitate the people crossing between both, and we need to make sure that we have human life interests whether it would be the people working at the border or the people trying to cross so that we’re not causing more deaths at the desert,” Ciruli says.
In the end, tourists are left to draw their own conclusions. The tour company claims the trip is intended to be apolitical and aims to educate and alert people to the realities of living on the border and the issues of life and death that play out every day in that part of the country.
The tour started in April. According to Gray Line Tours, about 100 tourists have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border so far, but interest is increasing as the weather cools down in the Arizona desert.
The tour starts at 8:30 am and lasts eight hours. At the end of the trip, Judy Macintyre, the retired professor, says it’s an eye-opening experience. “I think every congressperson should take this tour and take the information that we got.”
Journalist Valeria Fernandez contributed to this report.
The Pima County Wireless Integrated Network, or PCWIN, will allow firefighters, police, deputies and other emergency services to easily communicate on the same radio system.
The town of Marana isn’t a part of this effort, even though Marana residents are paying for it.
They are helping retire a $92 million bond Pima County voters passed in 2004.
It pays for PCWIN.
Marana’s mayor says opting out of PCWIN is not a problem for Marana.
Ed Honea says the problem would be in joining PCWIN, and giving up the town’s state- of- the- art system that Marana taxpayers have paid for.
“Our taxpayers have already paid for this technology. We already have it in place. Why would we give it to someone else and then turn around and lease it back, and not have any control over it?” Honea asks.
He says the safety of Marana citizens would not be jeopardized by not participating in the regional communication system.
But not everyone agrees, especially not a representative of Pima County, the government that would be in charge of PCWIN.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias calls Marana’s decision to opt out “irrational.”
He says, Marana knows it will be very expensive to opt back in.
“At that point we will have already designed a system and spent money on that design with our vendor and finding the sites and locations for the various kinds of antenna needs that we have,” Elias says.@
A lot of this comes down to trust.
Mayor Honea says it’s no secret there are trust issues between Marana and Pima County because of recent battles.
Copyright 2011 KOLD. All rights reserved.
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