State budget cuts impact Marana - The Explorer: Marana

State budget cuts impact Marana

Overall, town budget seems solid; wastewater added as a line item

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Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:00 am

In its second round of budget planning for the upcoming 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Marana Town Council on May 10 reviewed the proposed enterprise funds, and were updated on how the latest legislative session will impact the town.

In the 2011 state legislative session, there were 1,495 bills introduced in the 100-day session. Of those, 386 were passed, and 357 were signed in to law. Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed 29 bills.

Just like last year, cities, towns, schools, hospitals and counties statewide are facing deep cuts since Arizona is faced with attempting to balance a $1.4 billion deficit.

After the Arizona Legislature had finished trimming its expenditures, AHCCCS was the hardest hit, with a $478.9 million reduction, followed by schools at $183.2 million cut from public education and $270.9 million from state universities and community colleges.

For the town of Marana, state cuts will impact employees’ retirement benefits and will require a 90-day waiting period for new-employee health benefits to kick in.

Marana is also looking at a $278,177 loss due to the state redirecting funds from the vehicle-license plate tax.

A Department of Water Resources fee, beginning July 1, for services will be applied to each municipality. The impact to Marana will cost $48,724.

After figuring state reductions, the council discussed the town’s enterprise funds, which includes water, wastewater and the airport.

Town Manager Gilbert Davidson has presented an optimistic budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Last month he presented numbers for the general fund, which showed increases across the board.

“Three years ago we were aggressive in making cuts with the slowdown in the economy,” Davidson said. “Now, we are starting to see the economy getting stronger and we are able to start adding projects and employees and do a lot more.”

The newest addition to the enterprise budget is wastewater. After a lengthy battle with Pima County, Marana is taking steps to take over the town’s wastewater services; its first fund is $1.9 million.

Using bond money, the town will be spending up to $10 million to build the $8 million wastewater reclamation facility in north Marana and a $2 million facility in Sandario.

The water utility will cost the most, with the proposed budget calling for $3.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year. The figure is up $168,000 from the current year.

The airport budget is also projected to increase by $39,758, with a budget total of $339,831.

In discussing other funds for the new budget, Davidson is calling for $6.1 million in the transportation fund, a $705,000 increase.

Despite state budget cuts, the town’s highway user fund is also slated to increase, going from $1.9 million this year, to $2.4 million next year.

In addition, Marana is planning multiple road projects once the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Davidson said the town has a rolling capital improvement plan, and with available funding, many of those have been budgeted for this year.

The budget calls for $15.8 million for a roadway project along Ina Road between Silverbell Road and Interstate 10.

With federal grants and transportation funds, the budget calls for $16.8 million for the Ina Road Bridge. Davidson said this is a necessity due to continued problems with flooding, especially during monsoon season.

“Sometimes the flooding has caused us to close the bridge down,” he said. “We wanted to budget the money to rebuild it this year.”

In partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority, the town has budgeted $1.8 million for the Tangerine Road Corridor.

Davidson said a lot of the transportation projects will receive funding assistance through state and federal grants.

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