The Wheel Thing

Vote No On The County Transportation Bonds

By Emil Franzi

WE REALLY HATE to bust the balloon of everybody who's pontificating on either side of this issue, but this vote, frankly, won't make a helluva lot of difference to most of our road problems. This is an issue in which the principles are much larger than the effect. Look upon it as an exercise in symbolism.

Pima County will receive an additional--and projected--$497 million in state highway user funds (HURF) over the next 20 years (provided the Legislature doesn't change the funding formula). This proposal would employ those expected revenues to support the issuance of bonds so the county can begin various road-construction projects earlier (and pay the bond interest with later HURF dollars). Using the projected HURF revenues to pay back the bonds should cause no local tax increases--unless, of course, the distribution formula changes and the revenues decrease after the bonds are issued, in which case we all get to eat them. That's probably not going to happen.

Currents The proponents are offering these bonds as at least a partial panacea to our road problems, which is a load of crap. The bonds wouldn't be sold immediately. The process would take 12 years. You can vote yes, meaning you get $350 million in roads during the first 12 years and nothing for the last eight, while you're paying off the interest; or you can vote no and get $497 million worth of roads spread out over 20 years. Either way, we won't come anywhere near the two or three billion bucks we really need for all those roads the Growth Lobby wants for all those new people as well as the rest of us who are already crammed in here.

The real difference between approving or rejecting the bonds comes down to where those road projects are going to go. Many residents of Tucson, Oro Valley and Marana think they're getting short-changed because they're not getting enough out of the package. County residents think they're getting screwed because those three cities already get a big hunk of HURF dollars, much of which has been pissed away on dumb roads like the Aviation Highway.

Some Tucson-centric opponents of the road bonds say the city isn't getting money to fund badly needed projects in town. They face the prospect of having even less of this money go to Tucson when the Board of Supes is in complete control and less likely to pander to city whiners like Mayor George Miller to get support for a bond proposal.

Conversely, residents of unincorporated Pima County and the proposed new cities may be better off if the supervisors call the shots.

During this campaign we've once again been told about the need for a regional transportation plan. We bet it'll look a whole lot like the current Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which was designed to accommodate big land owners and future sprawl.

County residents think they're getting screwed, city residents think they're getting screwed, new towns think they're getting screwed. Guess what--they're all correct. We're all getting screwed by the insatiable lust of the Growth Lobby, which envisions more and more people in more and more cars, requiring more and more roads to be paid for at our expense.

Send 'em back to the drawing board--vote NO and keep voting NO until we elect some pols in every jurisdiction who can draft workable and sensible growth policies that will restrain this monster before it has us looking--and living--like Mexico City. TW

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