With an eye on projects and benefits the town would receive, the Marana Town Council voted unanimously at its meeting March 16 to throw its support behind all six questions listed on Pima County's bond election scheduled for May 18.
If approved by voters, the $451 million county-wide package would allocate $28.3 million for 11 projects in Marana that include relocating the county's Ina Road Tire Facility, expand the sewer system for the Marana-Northwest Regional Airport and building a library in Continental Ranch.
Speaking before the council's vote, Deputy Pima County Administrator Mike Hein, a former Marana town manager, said he believed the town stood to gain about $60 million "indirectly and directly" in capital improvements if the bond package is approved by voters.
Hein listed a regional emergency communication system and open space purchases as among the proposals that would potentially benefit the town.
The town would receive $15.5 million in direct benefits from general obligation bonds sold by the county, and sewer improvements from $12.8 million in sewer revenue bonds. The direct and indirect benefits are listed throughout all six questions expected to be listed on the ballot, Hein told the council.
The bond proposal will allow citizens to vote separately on six areas of funding: open space acquisition; public health and community facilities; public safety and courts; park and recreation; river parks and flood control improvements, and sewer system improvements and construction.
Marana Mayor Bobby Sutton, Jr. said he feared people in Marana have yet to fully realize what the town would lose if the items in the bond package pertaining to Marana are not approved.
"If it doesn't go through, there are things that still need to be done. I don't think everybody understands or is looking at the down side if the bonds don't go through. We were just looking at sewer capacity today and we're not in good shape," Sutton said. "If it doesn't go through, a lot of these projects are going to have to be done anyway and they're pretty pricey."
Marana Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat told the council that bond questions dedicated to the construction of parks and trails and the acquisition of open space that benefit Marana were the equivalent of eight years of funding for the town's parks improvements.
"And we estimate our sewer capacity will reach its maximum capacity in eight years if the growth pressure simply stays the same as it now," Reuwsaat said.
No one at the Marana meeting spoke against the county's bond proposal, which also has wide support in other jurisdictions in Pima County. A small number of critics have pointed to the fact that while repayment of the bonds will not directly lead to an increase in property taxes, increased valuation of homes will mean taxpayers will still pay more tax.
Critics have also raised concern that some projects from the county's bond election in 1997 have yet to be completed and claim the county is severely depleting its bonding capacity.
In other action, the council voted unanimously to annex 319 acres north and south of Cortaro Farms Road and east and west of Camino de Oeste.
Developers Mike Carlier and Raul Pina of CPE Development plan to extend Camino de Oeste south of Cortaro to Pima Farms Road and build about 215 homes on land they own south of Cortaro.
The developers, Marana and Pima County are considering a plan that would share the estimated $10 million cost of widening Cortaro east of Interstate 10 to Thornydale.
CPE's initial development plans brought out crowds of residents to a public hearing on the annexation before the council Dec. 16. Most of the residents said the development was incompatible with the semi-rural nature of the neighborhood and the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity has threatened to sue to stop the project.
Only three people spoke before the council March 16, and all voiced support for the annexation. Lane Justus, a resident living in the annexation area, told the council he looked forward to being in Marana.
"I'm wholeheartedly in favor of the project. As an aside, I've had exposure to the city of Tucson and Pima County and the experience has not been positive. Dealing with Marana's staff has been wonderful … it is a pleasure for me to have property in the area and join the town of Marana," Justus said.
Richard Purcella, a member of the Marana Planning and Zoning Commission, told the council the need to widen Cortaro is already critical.
"Where I live in Continental Ranch, it's very difficult to get out on Cortaro. By widening Cortaro, it would help a number of people," Purcella said.
After the meeting, Development Services Administrator Jaret Barr said the town has held six meetings with neighbors opposed to the annexation and the development.
Barr said that he expects a larger turn out of opposition when the Planning and Zoning Commission considers a rezoning request for the development March 31.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Marana Town Hall, 13251 N. Lon Adams Road.
Marana benefits from bond
According to the Six Bonds for All of Us Committee, a political action committee advocating voter approval of the Pima County bond measure May 18, some of the projects in the package that would directly or indirectly benefit Marana include:
$9.3 million to purchase open space in the area of the Tortolita Mountains
$1.5 million to relocate the Ina Road Tire Facility
$1 million for a regional Heritage and Cultural Park in North Marana.
$4 million for a Santa Cruz River trail park in the area of Continental Ranch
$10 million to expand the Marana Waste Water Treatment Plant