Huckelberry talks taxes, economic development at chamber breakfast - News - Explorer

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Huckelberry talks taxes, economic development at chamber breakfast

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Chuck Huckelberry

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A bond election could be in Pima County’s future, as a 25-member board continues to work out the details for an election that could be held as early as November 2014.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry was the guest of honor during the June 27 breakfast hosted by the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce. Besides planning for future bond elections, Huckelberry focused much of his speech on economic development in Pima County.

Part of economic growth means keeping current businesses and industry happy, Huckelberry said, bringing up Raytheon as a prime example.

“We need to protect our own. We need to pay attention to our own,” Huckelberry said. “Some say (Raytheon) is in South Tucson, so what does it matter? If you look at it, all of the Raytheon employees live all over this region. Most of them move north of Broadway rather than south.”

Because Raytheon is such an economic generator for the entire region, Huckelberry said they have ran into some issues with keeping them happy. One of them being urban sprawl, which potentially could harm the defense contractors ability to test weapons and technology.

After discussions, the county purchased 600 acres around the Raytheon facility, allowing for future expansion and possibly future commercial growth in the county.

Huckelberry said with federal budget cuts and sequestration, he feels if Raytheon does have to cut, hopefully it would consolidate in Tucson.

Huckelberry said increasing tourism is also a major priority, while noting this is an economic generator that requires little maintenance but means a lot to the county.

“We will continue to look at how to enhance and expand tourism,” he said. “This definitely adds value with little impact. To do that, we need to make Tucson a more attractive place for people to visit.”

Looking at taxes, Huckelberry briefly talked about the possible addition of a 10 cents gas tax being implemented in Pima County.

Even with the tax increase, Huckelberry said Pima County and Arizona are still doing better than nearby neighbors. If the tax were to be increased in the legislative session scheduled for October, the entire state would gain the increase.

The revenues would go into the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF), bringing an estimated $11.3 million per year to Pima County, and more than $33 million to the state.

Huckelberry said it is doubtful residents will travel outside of Arizona for gas, considering how high prices are outside the state.  With the increase, Arizona would be at 18 cents, while California’s gas tax is 39 cents and Las Vegas is 24 cents.

“No one likes new taxes, but also don’t want roads that are like third-world countires,” Huckelberry said.

Huckleberry said Pima County is working to garner support for the tax increase from local chambers and other entities throughout the state.

Huckelberry was also asked about the Tangergine Road situation during the breakfast.

The long-time county administator said the future of Tangerine Road is really out of his hands because most of it is either in the Marana town limits, Oro Valley town limits.

Giving advice, however, Huckelberry said it should be a high-capacity road to accomodate big business in the future.

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Chuck Huckelberry

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