Feb 7, 2014 8:15 PM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham
Are your tax dollars being spent wisely? It's a question the News 4 Tucson Investigators want answered. But at least one of Pima County's elected leaders has refused to provide those answers.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators filed a Public Records request with Pima County, to find out how Supervisors are using district money. We then went over hundreds of pages of documents.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators found your tax dollars going to pay for everything from office supplies, to trips, even brunches at local resorts.
The documents we reviewed included invoices and receipts from 2013 for all five districts. You'll find those documents posted at the bottom of this story.
For District 3, the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bronson, used district funds for things like office supplies.
According to the documents the News 4 Tucson Investigators reviewed, among other expenses, District 5 Supervisor Richard Elias paid about $350.00 to pay for Facebook ads. He tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, he believes the money was well-spent.
"Frankly, there's more people who are becoming savvy on social media, and we feel an obligation to let them know that we're out there. For $350.00, I think the return was positive for us, and for the taxpayer," Elias says.
In District 2, Supervisor Ramón Valadez used about $3,800 in district funds to pay for a trip to Washington D.C.
In a statement to the News 4 Tucson Investigators, Valadez justified the trip, saying it "was to represent interest of our community with the congressional delegation. Because it also happened to coincide with the government shutdown we had the opportunity to speak directly with our members of congress. Furthermore, they made it very clear that it was in our best interest to maintain that direct level of contact."
District 4 Supervisor Ray Carroll's office shelled out around $7,000 for four trips, including trips to Dallas, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C.. Like Supervisor Valadez, Carroll tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, trips like the one to our nation's capitol, are important in that it allows county officials to meet with national lawmakers.
"They like to see you there. These are not vacations. These are important trips that we go to discuss national issues, as well as local issues that national issues will have an effect upon," Carroll says.
But apparently not all the Pima County Supervisors were anxious to talk with the News 4 Tucson Investigators about some of the charges they racked up with your tax dollars.
Supervisor Ally Miller, from District 1, took her staff to brunch at the Ritz-Carlton. Additionally, more than $1,100 of your tax dollars went to website company Go Daddy to create a website. This, despite the fact that the county already operates a website for Miller's office. Supervisor Miller has refused repeated requests for an on-camera interview. After sending several emails, that went unanswered, the News 4 Tucson Investigators went to Miller's downtown office, but we have received no response.
If you have something you would like the news 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us at email@example.com, or call the news 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at 955-4444.