Posts Tagged ‘Ray Carroll’
It’s over 100 pages and it’s a little ponderous to read. Here’s a snapshot of the Pima County Audit for your digestion( or indigestion). A listing of the MTCVB Board will follow soon. It’s up to them to see if this gets fixed and get rid of the Walker/Vaughan tandem.(at left on their Scottish Golf Vacation with one of their vendors)
Here’ s the complete report: http://pima.gov/Administration/MTCVB_audit/bd-mtcvb.audit.report_20110712090644.pdf
Tale of the Tape – Stats on Tourism Growth
The ten-year recent period of 1999-2008 was selected, just before
the precipitous drops that occurred across the state in 2009. Here
are the results.
1. Arizona’s total travel spending for the period grew 41.4
percent, from $13,071billion to $18,480 billion dollars.
2. Maricopa County’s travel spending percentage of growth
exceeded that of the state with a 49.7 % increase, from $7,779
billion to an estimated $11,642 billion.
3. Pima County’s tourism expenditures experienced a
significantly less robust estimated growth rate of only 21.8
percent, from $1,725 billion to $2,101 billion.
This time period was during the boom days. Before global economic meltdowns, SB 1070s, etc. Pima County lost significant market share during the tenure of the Walker/Vaughan. They were funded anywhere between $6-$10 million per year. They also get paid $180,000 and $230,000 respectively. That’s some serious money. Serious money for bad results. Time to go, gents.
Dear Editor, Your headlines seemed like a dream come true: “Lower tax, few cuts in county budget” [Arizona Daily Star 4-28-09], declaring a “drop in property taxes” for a “total budget … down $6 million…”
Not explained is that the $6 million dollar “reduction” is offset by an increase of almost $22 million in the total property tax levy amount, from $399 million in 2008-09 to $421 million in 2009-10. A more accurate headline could have read “County to collect over $15 Million more from the taxpayers!”
This is because increase assessed values counters any real reduction in taxes. This year’s current tax rate is based on $746 Million in increased primary property assessments for 2007 — figures derived before the recession hit. Our property is being over-valued and over-taxed. Last year, Supervisor Ann Day and I submitted an alternative budget to the Board majority. In our introduction we explained:
“[W]hile the Primary tax rate decreased from $4.072 to $3.602 between 2002 to 2007, the amount of revenue collected by the county increased by over $70 million dollars…”
Your newspaper had clarified this in an article [10/22/08] with the headline: “Though tax rate dips, we’re all paying more.” The article explained how, even with the drop in tax rates:” taxpayers are paying twice as much in property taxes as they did a decade ago.”
Equally ominous is the hidden long term and ever increasing debt. Our debt service has jumped this year by $10 million to a total of $110 million dollars, which currently makes up over 37% of our primary property taxes. And Pima County’s debt is going up with non-voter approved debt through “Certificate’s of Participation.” In fact, Pima County’s current outstanding principal debt is almost twice as large as all other Arizona counties debt combined ($757.6 million vs. $339.7 million). Next year the county wants a $500 million dollar bond sale next year for our Wastewater Department. Who do you think gets to pay these debts?
And speaking of other debt obligations, University Physicians at Kino Hospital is now asking for an extra $30 Million dollar subsidy, with up to $39 Million in each of the next five years (even though the original agreement assured decreased payments and self-sufficiency). But as the county reduces support for the cost of health screenings, the County Administration increases its budget by $2.7 million. While we increase fees for our children to play in county parks, this same budget increases Economic Development subsidies by an extra $14 million.
This raises the question of “sustainability” – a term used often with regards to the environment, but which should apply to our taxpaying citizens.
Because as we continue to bleed our taxpayers dry by continuing to raise taxes and fees on everything without a mandatory cap, the number of homeowner’s facing foreclosure remains at record levels in Pima County. We need to learn to live within our means rather than attempting to instill false impressions about “rate reductions.” But to do so, we need to have an honest accounting of our revenues and expenses.
There are three steps that could be taken immediately to help in the process:
1. We need the majority on the Board to stop refusing to appoint their representatives to the outside Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee. Other people without a vested interest in the growth of government need to make an objective review of the Pima County budget. Since 1997, the Board has never allowed this committee to have a quorum.
2. There needs to be at least three public meetings on the budget, preferably at night – not just one meeting, scheduled for Tuesday morning, May 19th, when most working people can’t attend, in which all departments are superficially reviewed and a tentative budget is quickly adopted.
3. Finally, the county budget should be posted in both the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Citizen for the general public to be able to review. We paid TNI over $600,000 last year; we can afford to have their readers see our budget.
There are no legitimate reasons why Pima County government can’t be more transparent with the use of taxpayer funds. Perhaps, with a more informed public, deceitful declarations regarding property taxes will be subjected to a bit more scrutiny. One can only hope.
Pima County Supervisor
Op-Eds are published in their entirety here on Tucson Choices at the request of the author.
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Twenty-five years back, there were a clutch of prime mantras among the activist set: Growth could be stopped. Cattle-grazing was archaic. Mining was a goner. Developers could be battled to a standstill, and the Pusch Ridge bighorns would tough it out.Today, folks who built below Pusch Ridge adore the foothills wildlife–until it nibbles their bougainvillea. More habitat has vanished from this county than perhaps ever existed in some states. Cows are now seen as bulwarks against bulldozers. As for bighorn sheep, well, somebody figures they might have seen a footprint up beyond those pretty cul-de-sacs sometime back.
Growth has continued at freakish levels, although a crashing real estate market offers some hope. Still, even wayward water supplies haven’t truly threatened this juggernaut; the housing industry, along with local government, still huddles under the Central Arizona Project’s rippling chimera.
Yet time marches on. And some iconic battles from those days–stopping the UA telescopes on Mount Graham, for example, or blocking developer Don Diamond’s Rocking K Ranch exurb–weren’t exactly won, but they weren’t totally lost, either.
The Mount Graham mountaintop telescopes are nearly due for review by the Coronado National Forest, and UA astronomers may lack the political muscle of yesteryear. Diamond did toss a few acreage bones to Saguaro National Park East, and bankrolled the Rincon Institute to cope with what his avarice had wrought.
Meanwhile, some things have actually improved. Though our fair city has plumped beyond reason, one recent UA analysis reveals that Arizona’s population grew by a measly 1.6 percent in the last year, the lowest rate since the blistering recession in the 1990s.
And although we’ve had decades to ponder the mine tailings south of Tucson (“Manmade Mountains!” one real estate brochure enthused), citizens are tightly organized against a new mine proposed for Rosemont Valley in the Santa Rita Mountains.
So there is reason to hope. Indeed, tempered optimism is raison d’ètre among most conservationists. Among them is Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Campbell’s coalition has been knee-deep in prodding Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (one true victory-in-progress) down the road to reality.
Since its late 1990s inception as a wildlife-protection blueprint, the project has spent roughly $120 million from a voter-approved bond to purchase or lease more than 160,000 acres.
To Campbell, that 2004 bond–when citizens earmarked nearly $175 million to buy open space–was a turning point. “In Pima County, people have always been working on protecting open space,” she says, “and we’ve had open-space bonds for the last 20 years. But the big difference is the planning and scientific effort that went into this endangered-species project. The open space we targeted was key habitat for particular species, along with connectivity between some of the already preserved areas. So there was a little bit of method to the madness.
“It’s why there’s still a lot of support from the conservation community, and, I believe, the community at large,” Campbell says. “We’ve had the best available science behind the plan, and not politics. But what is different now is that we have the political will among citizens. Before, it was like beating our heads against the wall.”
Gayle Hartmann has also been in the trenches for eons, including a stint on the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission. She now heads Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a group fighting the proposed Rosemont mine. Hartmann heralds the addition of Sharon Bronson and Ray Carroll to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Bronson was elected to the board in 1996, representing District 3; Carroll was appointed to represent District 4 a year later, and formally elected in 1998. Finally, says Hartmann, “there was a majority on the board that was really interested in conservation.”
Both supervisors championed open-space preservation, and Carroll has fought the proposed Rosemont mine with a notable vengeance. In 2007, he garnered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Outstanding Achievement award.
Equally notable is a shift among Green Valley constituents in District 4 who support him. “Twenty years ago, Green Valley was always against any type of open space,” says Hartmann, “and that’s completely changed. I don’t know if it’s because there are more people there, or if the people there are somewhat different. But his district–although they may be politically conservative in some ways–now seems very concerned about environmental issues.”
That concern has been critical in efforts to limit Santa Cruz Valley growth, including the vastly scaled-down Canoa Ranch development. Many Green Valley dwellers have also been bare-knuckle opponents of the Augusta mine.
Another positive change, says Hartmann, “is that we don’t have quite as nasty a war between the pro-growth and no-growth sides. To some degree, I guess the pro-growthers won. But at the same time, I think there’s a much better understanding of the need to do preservation and see that we have enough water.”
Roger Featherstone, a longtime anti-mining activist, has likewise been in the fray for years. Today, he relishes the heat generated against Canadian-owned Augusta Resource Corp., the mining company hoping to gut Rosemont Valley. He’s also guardedly cheered about legislation sifting through Congress to reform the despised 1872 Mining Act. This antiquated law gives mining companies such as Augusta near carte blanche in laying claim to public lands.
“Tucson has become a lot more conservation-minded in the last 20 years,” Featherstone says, “and I think that really shows in the Rosemont fight. You now have to look long and hard to find anybody who’s in favor of that mine.
“People understand,” he says, “that Tucson has different values now when it comes to raping and pillaging the land than they did 20 years ago.”
Despite that positive shift, says Featherstone, conservationists now face an unexpected foe: themselves. “Twenty-five years ago, when we were all here fighting, we worked really hard, and we had some successes and some real disappointments. But the pace wasn’t nearly so frenetic. We had time to sit on a porch at night with buddies and drink beer.
“But now we’ve really gotten into this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ syndrome, where we’re running twice as fast, and we’re still falling behind. I think the conservation community has to take a serious look at the fact that they’re working twice as hard and getting a lot less done–with a lot more stress and a lot more unhappiness.
“If I could start a new environmental trend,” he half-chuckles, “it would be modeled on the slow-food movement.”
So does long and languid dining offer any tantalizing hints for Tucson’s environmental future? We’ll pop a beer, gnaw a few pretzels and get back to you on that in about 25 years.
Times are tough, we get it. Belts are tightening both in the private sector and at every level of government. In desperate times people (and governments) do desperate things. Today Pima County voted 3-2 to join the City of Tucson and State of Arizona by getting into the highly profitable photo radar business. Make no mistake this is nothing more than a tax on drivers, call is safety, call it law enforcement but we know what’s up. The three Democratic Supervisors voted in unison with the two Republicans, Ray Carroll and Ann Day standing up for civil liberties and seeing this new revenue stream as nothing more than a shake down. Surely there are other areas the county could cut back on before joining the speed enforcement bandwagon. We’ll put a list of suggestions together for another post.
The good news is, smart people are finding ways around the photo radar systems. I had a talk with Charlie the owner of The Specialist this afternoon and learned that these things have become so bad in Phoenix that innovative entrepreneurs have used GPS technologies to outsmart the cameras. There are products you can buy that sync your GPS into a national database of speed enforcement cameras. My linking up daily even the mobile enforcement vehicles are being uploaded into your GPS system. When you get into the photo speed enforcement zone the unit starts beeping and letting you know to slow down. Seems like a lot of work and planning which could be avoided by simply slowing down but leave it up to good old ingenuity.
These things are getting out of control and based on the comments from the Star’s online version the people know what’s up.
Oh and if they don’t get you with the photo radar or the red light cameras the State will hit you with the new license plate frame law. They ding you $135 for the vanity coveryou got for fathers day that read ‘Worlds Greatest Fisherman’. What next, dirty car citations, ridiculous spinning rims tickets, poor gas mileage warnings?
A bit more about photo radar tactics HERE
More-enlightened police forces in North America are aware people do not deliberately speed out of malice or disregard for the law. They realize the majority of motorists speed because of inattention or distraction and that raising awareness is much more effective than punishment in keeping the roads safe.If you travel Interstate 5 in Northern California, you will see a number of electronic signs along the highway at select locations. Wherever the posted speed is critical to safely negotiating a dangerous corner, the highway patrol have installed solar-powered, radar-operated traffic signs. Only instead of the radar taking your picture and mailing you a ticket 3 weeks later, it displays your actual speed immediately so you can slow down in time to negotiate the turns safely. Of course, the highway patrol doesn’t make any money from this technology but they do manage to save lives and protect citizens… which after all should be the primary purpose of any police agency.
In less-traveled areas, the California highway patrol employs the same technology effectively using mobile trailers. Called SMART for “Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailers”, these solar-powered trailers can be towed wherever they are needed and can be set up in minutes to help motorists slow down. They are extremely effective at making drivers more aware of their speed.
PHOTO RADAR ISN’T ABOUT SPEEDING (EDMONTON STATS)
But, of course, Photo Radar isn’t about speeding, it’s about revenue. And we didn’t need this sorry episode in CalgaryAlberta to prove that.
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