The Main Stream

May 13, 2013 9:53 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Pima County leaders want 10-cent per gallon tax hike to fix county roads

TUCSON - Pima County leaders plan to seek a 10-cent per gallon gas tax hike to help curb the expenses of road maintenance and repairs.

Arizona's roads received a "D" rating from a recent study conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers. This isn't anything new to Pima County but now county leaders are looking at new ways for an infusion of cash.

More than half of the state's roads were found to be in mediocre or poor condition.

"Obviously there's a problem with roads and I think anyone who drives around Tucson can see that," said Dan Higgins as he filled up his car at a gas station.

The state's gas tax is already meant to help out the county with road repairs but the state legislature has siphoned off more than $39 million over the last decade to help balance the budget. That's money Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said should have went toward county road expenses.

"The revenues that are available for transportation aren't keeping pace with the demand," Huckelberry told News 4 Tucson.

Huckelberry is asking for the backing of the Board of Supervisors in his request that the legislature return the money that was siphoned off. He also wants the state to approve an additional 10-cent per gallon gas tax hike.

"[It] would increase the revenue of the Highway User Revenue Fund by 20 percent. That's a pretty significant increase given the fact that [the gas tax] hasn't been increased ... in 22 years," Huckelberry said, helping to put Arizona's gas tax rate on par with nearby states.

Huckelberry admitted that the move wouldn't solve Pima County's failing roads problem but would help manage it.

Meanwhile, some drivers aren't quite yet sold on the idea.

"If it's mismanaged or those monies go to different things and doesn't address the situation... Then obviously, I would be skeptical," Higgins said.

Huckelberry is asking the Board of Supervisors to act on his proposals at its next meeting on Tuesday. However, the most they can do is petition the legislature to approve the proposed gas tax hike.


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