PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA – Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry April 30 sent the Board of Supervisors his recommended fiscal year 2022 budget, which, among other things, seeks funding for early childhood education, over 100 miles of road repair, and body cameras for Sheriff’s deputies. The request also seeks a reduction in the overall County property tax rate.
The Board of Supervisors will hold budget hearings May 11 and 12, in which all elected officer agencies and County departments will make presentations of their respective budget requests to the Board. The Board is scheduled to consider tentative budget adoption May 18, where the budget ceiling is set, and final budget adoption is planned for June 22.
The $2.1 billion proposed budget is encumbered by large one-time funding requirements, including $300 million to stabilize the Public Safety Retirement System fund, and $350 million in federal funds for COVID-19 pandemic-related costs.
The total proposed revenue budget for next fiscal year is just over $1.5 billion, which includes about $500.7 million in property tax levies, an increase of about 3.7 percent over the current fiscal year. Property values have increased significantly across the metro area, raising total net assessed valuations by more than 6 percent. The County Administrator is proposing reducing the combined County tax rate by 11.56 cents per $100 of net assessed value so that most property owners will see only a slight increase in their County tax bills next year.
The proposed combined tax rate is $5.1952 per $100 of assessed value. The rate reduction, if adopted by the board, would be the fourth year in a row the Board has reduced the overall tax rate, falling 78.32 cents per $100 in assessed value since fiscal year 2018. When factoring in the increase in property values over the past four years, the cumulative year-over-year rate reductions by the board will have resulted in over $205 million in property taxes avoided by County taxpayers since 2018 if the proposed rate reduction is adopted.
There are two components to County property taxes – a property’s assessed value and the tax rate. Using formulas set by state law, rates for the different County property taxes are multiplied by the assessed value to determine the tax bill. The County imposes four types of property taxes: the primary tax, which funds the General Fund that pays for most County services; the Library District tax, which can only be used to fund public library operations; the Regional Flood Control District tax, which can only be used to fund flood control projects in the County; and the debt service tax, which can only be used to pay back voter-approved general obligation bonds that were used to build county facilities and infrastructure.
Proposed FY22 Budget Highlights:
- Early Childhood Education: At the request of the Board, the County Administrator included $10 million to fund a program for early childhood education. The Board is scheduled to consider the proposed program at its meeting May 4.
- Library Expansions: The Public Library District has several capital projects in the proposed budget, including completion of the Sahuarita Library, expansions and improvements to the Elías-Mission and Martha Cooper branches, and library network improvements.
- 100 miles in Road Repair: The proposed budget includes about $84 million for road repair and maintenance. The funding is an acceleration of the PAYGO, or Pay-As-You-Go program, adopted by the Board in 2019.
- Major Road Improvement Projects: In addition to road repair, the Department of Transportation has $52.9 million in road improvement projects planned, including two projects planned for Houghton Road, and widening a northern section of Kolb Road.
- Northwest Service Center: The County acquired a property on Miracle Mile to serve as the Northwest Service Center, which will house numerous county agencies currently providing services in the area at several leased properties. The budget will fund the estimated $3.7 million renovation cost of the building.
- Deputy Body Cameras: At the request of the Sheriff, the proposed budget includes $1.1 million to purchase body-worn cameras for deputies to join a nationwide effort to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability.
- County Employee Minimum Wage: The County Administrator is asking the Board for about $4.3 million annually to set the County employee minimum wage at $15. This is about $3 an hour higher than the state’s minimum wage. This wage increase will help entry-level County employees earn a living wage. The increase would affect about 2,000 personnel in the County.