And Have A Nice Day!

1997 Pima County Murder Victims

By National Rifle Association, League Of Women With Asshole Boyfriends

FREELOADERS constantly whining that the government owes them services, that they have rights. Panhandlers always demanding money so they can sustain their lifestyles. Tucson's welfare recipients and beggars? Nope, the residents of the unincorporated portions of the metropolitan area.

Currents Those of us who live in the city have subsidized county residents long enough. Let's hope they vote to become municipalities over the next few years so we can get them off our backs financially.

People who reside inside the city limits make up 60 percent of the population of the community. City residents pay taxes to support a police department, bus system, building safety division and many other urban services.

But they also have to pay to finance services in the unincorporated areas. The property they own has an assessed valuation for tax purposes of $1.6 billion. It gets billed by the city a little and by the county a lot to support local governmental operating functions.

The property tax the county collects from city residents supplies millions of dollars for sheriff deputies that patrol in the foothills. Tucson residents financially support libraries outside the city limits as well as those inside them. They even subsidize rural fire districts through property tax payments. City residents get billed twice for many government functions so those who live in the unincorporated areas don't have to pay their fair share of taxes.

Our unincorporated neighbors correctly point out that they pay local sales tax when they buy something inside the city. But they also use many city services, from the Community Center to Tucson parks and recreation facilities. Plus, they have choices about where they shop. City residents can't opt out of being taxed by Pima County, even though they don't get their money's worth.

If Casas Adobes, Catalina Foothills and the rest of the other numerous areas considering the idea incorporate, the Tucson city budget will be negatively impacted. That is a given. But the shortfall can be partially covered by the City Council forgetting schemes like financing the Solar Village of Civano and the ill-fated Microsoft move to town. Then the Council needs to look at its pricing structure for recreation and other services. Instead of using them as loss leaders to encourage annexation, it should start charging non-city residents full fees.

Another step the City Council can take is to reduce its contributions to things like the $15 million budget for the library system. City residents already pay once for libraries through their city taxes and then again through their Pima County property taxes.

The city should tell the new communities--and the other currently existing ones who don't pay anything now, for that matter--that the library district isn't free for them any longer. It's time they start ponying up their fair share. City Manager Luis Gutierrez, while hoping the new incorporations don't happen, says it would be "fair and equitable for the new communities to pick up some of the cost of library service."

Another agency budget that will be affected by the proposed incorporations is that of the Pima Association of Governments. It's the organization that tries to promote regional thinking about issues. PAG is governed by a board consisting of an official from Pima County and one from each of the five current municipal jurisdictions. The overwhelming majority of the local funds used to support PAG come from the county and City of Tucson. If the new incorporations occur, both could see some savings in their annual allocations.

But the new incorporations would further exacerbate the unfair voting method currently employed by the PAG board. It doesn't operate under a "one person, one vote" system. Instead, it's "one government, one vote." That might not have been too important in the past. But the possible proliferation of small cities, combined with the fact that the PAG board would control any regional transportation funds supplied by a future gas or sales tax increase, means it will be critical.

Representatives of both Pima County and the City of Tucson have discussed having weighted voting in the past. Under that approach, the total population of each member municipality would count for something. But the possibility of having so many new seats on the PAG board will make the importance of a weighted voting procedure that much more urgent.

While Tucson government will have less revenue if the incorporations succeed, Pima County's budget should be increased significantly. Proposed incorporations would put over one-half of the population now living in unincorporated areas inside new cities. If that occurs, Pima County could be looking at a financial windfall, since it would no longer be paying to provide services in those areas, but would still be collecting taxes from them.

In addition, the county might end up charging the new cities for services it once provided free. The current controversy over whether it should collect at a "full cost recovery" level or something less doesn't change the result. If incorporations occur, Pima County will be better off financially.

What will it do with the savings? It could start by reducing the property tax rate, charging everyone less, including Tucson residents. That wouldn't eliminate all the inequities in the dual taxing system imposed on city residents, but it sure would help.

To those living outside of Tucson who are considering forming cities: Please vote to incorporate. Even if the promises of no new taxes being made in your proposed town is a hollow one, please--oh please!--vote to incorporate anyway. Those of us who live in the City of Tucson want you wealthy welfare freeloaders off our backs. We can't afford you any longer. TW

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