A few weeks back, the Weekly went into some depth about why we supported all seven bond questions and the city's proposed charter changes, but opposed the removal of the red-light cameras and speed vans and didn't approve of raising the pay for the Tucson mayor and city council.
As Election Day rolls around next Tuesday, Nov. 3, we thought we'd briefly recap our reasoning for those of you who haven't yet voted and are looking for some quick guidance.
Pima County Bond Package: Hell Yes!
Pima County is asking voters to approve an $815 million bond package. We might not like every single project in the package, there are enough worthy projects that we can live with the other stuff.
Here's the bottom line, as calculated by the county: If you live in a house that is at the county's average value of roughly $152,000, your taxes will go up by less than $18 a year. That's like $1.50 a month. In exchange, you'll get better roads, better parks, historic preservation, more libraries, expanded open space, improved flood protection and a whole lot more. This strikes us as a reasonable deal.
Opponents of the bonds toss all kinds of numbers to scare taxpayers, but in most cases, those figures are inaccurate, out of context or nonsense. And then, after spewing their BS, they turn around and the say the county can't be trusted.
If the bonds are such a terrible idea, why do they have support across the political spectrum from Tucson Metro Chamber, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Tucson Business Alliance, the Tucson Association of Realtors, Visit Tucson, the Sun Corridor Inc., the Pima Area Labor Federation, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, the Pima Library Foundation and dozens of other groups?
These props will help the county pave crumbling roads, create jobs, expand opportunities for big and small businesses, improve parks, libraries and health clinics, fix up museums and performing arts venues, save historic buildings, build a new sheriff's department substation, conserve open-space preservation, do vital flood-control work and much more. The benefits are spread across the county and safeguards are built in to ensure that the promised work will be done.
These are solid projects and worthy of your vote next week.
City of Tucson
Prop 201: No
We don't want to see cameras at every intersection or a van nabbing speeders on every street, but the program that the city of Tucson is using at eight high-traffic intersections has, by and large, been a success. Accidents have dropped by a staggering 70 percent at those crossroads and people drive more cautiously—as you would expect. We know many people fear the idea of robotic law enforcement, but given the number of lousy drivers we see on the streets whenever we're driving around, we're OK with some technological help to keep some of them in line—or at least bust them when they do something dumb like run a red light.
Prop 403 Equal Power for Mayor: Yes
This would give the mayor equal power to his fellow council members when it comes to firing high-ranking city officials and some other parliamentary authority. It's well past time we do this.
Prop 404 Removing civil-service protections for department heads: Yes
Under the current rules, department heads at the city of Tucson enjoy too much job protection—and as a result, they know they don't have to follow orders from the city manager because it's almost impossible to get rid of them. While civil service protections are good for the rank-and-file, it's just silly to give them to the people at the top.
Prop 405: Raises for mayor and council: No
No. Prop 405 would boost the City Council's pay from $24,000 a year to $27,456 annually and the mayor's salary from $42,000 to $48,360 annually. While the pay seems low for what is a full-time job, there are a lot of other perks that come with the gig, from a free car to an outstanding pension after you serve just five years. Given how much the city has already cut back in vital services, we think it would send the wrong message to pass along raises.