/ Modified jun 17, 2016 3:29 p.m.

METRO WEEK: Pro/Con Debate on Pima County Bond Election

$816 million borrowing proposal would require higher property taxes.

Pima County voters will decide whether to allow the county to take out a loan to pay for nearly 100 projects designed to benefit the community in some way, and pay back the loan with increased property taxes.

The Nov. 3 ballot in Pima County includes seven bond questions, grouped by category of spending, and asks voters to say yes or no to each question.

If they approve all seven, the average homeowner in Pima County would pay an additional $56 a year in property taxes for 12 years to pay for the $816 million package of 99 projects.

Getting to the Ballot

Pima County has a Bond Advisory Committee that serves as oversight to the bonds voters approved years ago. It is also tasked to come up with a recommended list of projects for a future bond election. The committee's work is ongoing, though it has not recommended a major bond package to voters since 2004.

In the last decade, hundreds of people in the county have advocated for hundreds of projects to receive public funding through a bond package. The bond committee ultimately came up with a list of more than 90 projects to recommend at a cost of more than $600 million.

After the committee referred its suggestions to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the county administrator added another $200 million in suggested road work to the package.

The supervisors referred the entire $816 million package to voters on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The Ballot Questions

Proposition 425: Road and Highway Improvements: $200 million for road repair and construction. The biggest use proposed is $160 million for road repairs throughout the county.

Proposition 426: Economic Development, Libraries and Workforce Training: $91 million for 13 projects. The largest is $18 million for a Southern Arizona Regional Orientation Center to promote all of the area’s tourism sites.

Proposition 427: Tourism Promotion: $99 million for 11 projects. The largest dollar amount is for a group of downtown projects: a January 8th Memorial, the Tucson Museum of Art and Old Pima County Courthouse restoration.

Proposition 428: Parks and Recreation Facilities: $192 million for 49 projects throughout the county.

Proposition 429: Public Health, Welfare, Safety, Neighborhoods and Housing: $105 million for 10 projects. The Pima County neighborhood reinvestment program would get $25 million, which is typically distributed as grants to neighborhood improvement projects.

Proposition 430: Natural Area Conservation and Historic Preservation: $112 million, the largest amount for buying land to protect as open space or develop into public use such as parks at a later date.

Proposition 431: Flood Control and Drainage: $17 million for projects that construct drainage facilities or protect structures from flooding.

More info on each section is available here.

Why Vote For Bonds

Larry Hecker is co-chairman of Yes on Pima County Bonds, the political committee supporting all seven questions.

The projects themselves will create 7,000 construction jobs, Hecker said, thereby acting as an economic stimulus.

“It will allow us to remain competitive when we’re trying to attract companies from out of state, trying to keep companies here,” he said.

Skilled workers can move anywhere there is a job, so amenities will help attract them to the Tucson metro area, he said.

“We need to do this if we’re going to stay competitive from an economic development standpoint,” Hecker said.

Why Vote Against Bonds

Joe Boogaart is the spokesman of Taxpayers Against Pima Bonds, the political committee opposing all seven questions.

“I don’t see it as a growth package,” he said in response to Hecker’s assertion that it will stimulate the economy. Construction jobs are not permanent, and they do not bring new money to the area, he said.

Private investment would add money to the local economy, rather than using money that’s already here, from current residents, he said.

“All these jobs that are going to be created are going to come from our taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Boogaart said he would prefer a bond package with a greater focus on infrastructure such as road repair to attract people and businesses.

The map below was created by Pima County and illustrates the 2015 proposed bond projects.

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