Money to maintain our roads have been used on an increasing number of crony deals and pet projects.
For years, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry with the assistance of a majority of the supervisors have squandered money that could be used to repair infrastructure, including roads, on pet projects that offer little benefit to the residents of the fifth poorest metropolitan area in the country.
From buying a bowling alley against the wishes of its neighbors to funding a building to house a risky balloon business, money is used for everything but road repairs.
Golden Pins – $7 million that could have been spent on roads
On May 15, 2018, the Pima County Board of Supervisors in a 3:2 vote approved an Acquisition Agreement to acquire the Golden Pins Bowling Alley located at 1010 W. Miracle Mile for the contract amount of $2,941,600.
World View – $15 million plus that could have been spent on roads
At the direction of County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, a majority of the Pima County supervisors voted to spend $15 million to build the World View facility which includes close to a million dollars of lavish furnishings and decorations. Currently, the questionable contract is being challenged in court by the Goldwater Institute.
Old Courthouse – $12.5 million that could have been spent on roads
In March 2018, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry had his buddies on the Board of Supervisors approve contracts to make improvements to the Historic Courthouse. A $25 million bond proposal to renovate the building was voted down in the 2015 bond election.
In a memo to the supervisors, Huckelberry wrote:
Current funding for tenant improvements to the second and third floors, for build out of space for two County departments, and for the proposed Visitor Center portion of the first floor, total $18.5 million. Of this, $4.5 million was essentially 2004 voter-approved funding for the rehabilitation of the Old Courthouse; and $1.5 million comes from Visit Tucson for its share of tenant improvements to the second and third floors. Neither funding source could legally be spent on road repair. The remainder of the funding will come from the General Fund. (Emphasis in the original.)
In plain terms, Huckelberry claimed that $6 million was legally earmarked for courthouse renovation. If true, that leaves $12.5 million to come from the General Fund that could have been used for road repair.
That $18.5 million is more than triple Huckelberry’s own 2004 estimate of the costs, $5 million, and almost double his 2013 estimate of $9 – 10 million.
Visit Tucson’s $1.5 million “share of tenant improvements” is, in fact, largely taxpayer money. Here’s their Mission Statement: Visit Tucson’s mission is to drive economic development by connecting visitors with their ideal travel & meetings experiences in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Visit Tucson is financially supported by the City of Tucson, Pima County, the Town of Oro Valley and more than 500 individual and business partners. (Emphasis added.)
The Huckelberry Loop – $19,650,000 in maintenance costs for next 5 years that could be spent on roads
The County has already spent over $50 million for the Chuck Huckelberry bike path that weaves around Pima County for the enjoyment of mostly wealthy users with recreational time on their hands.
From Supervisor Ally Miller’s website:
Annual Maintenance Costs for “The Loop” … annual cost estimate is $30,000 per mile x 131 miles completed = $3,930,000 per year.
Funding source: Flood Control District (Flood Control reimburses Parks & Recreation for providing maintenance of the Loop). Flood Control District funds are derived from the your Secondary Property Tax! It’s not about the benefits of the Loop; it’s about the lack of basic core services like “safe” roads which are critical for the community, economic development, law enforcement and emergency services, among others. Core road improvement services were needed long before the start of the Loop in 2005. It’s not about needing more taxes, it’s about spending priorities. Maintenance costs for the Loop for the next five years will be …….. $19,650,000.
Promotional Funds budgeted for the “Loop Celebration” …….. $50,000
American Airlines – $100,000 that could have been spent on roads
On April 18, 2017, a majority of the Board of Supervisors obediently approved a $100,000 payment to American Airlines. The money paid to American Airlines was supposed to support direct flights from Tucson to New York.
Not long after the $100,000 payment was made, American Airlines suspended the flights.