A budget-season battle of numbers brews in Pima County.
Supervisors Ann Day and Ray Carroll have proposed an alternative spending plan to the one offered this month by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
Day and Carroll want the county to adopt a “revenue-neutral” budget, predicated on collecting the same amount in property taxes next year that were collected this year.
“We owe it to the taxpayers that are hurting,” Day said of her and Carroll’s alternative budget proposal.
By fiscal year’s end on June 30, the county will have spent $469 million in operating costs — property tax collections account for $375.2 million of that total.
The county’s current primary property rate stands at $3.60 per $100 of assessed value. The secondary tax rate is $1.42.
To collect the same amount in fiscal 2009, which begins July 1, the supervisors propose cutting the primary tax rate to $3.28 per $100 of assessed value.
The secondary rate would remain the same.
Because county properties have increased in value and in numbers, the lower rate still would bring in the same amount of tax revenue, according to Day and Carroll.
Huckelberry also proposed tax cuts, but to a lesser degree.
After all the numbers were computed, the Day-Carroll spending plan would leave the county $8.3 million in the hole.
To make up the difference, they propose a 5-percent budget cut across the board, affecting all departments.
Huckelberry’s proposed budget calls for cutting county spending by an average of 3 percent.
“I think he should go back through the departments and see if we can achieve that,” Day said of the county administrator’s plan.
Huckelberry wants supervisors to lower the primary property tax rate from $3.60 to $3.39.
The county would collect $390.8 million in property taxes — about $11.5 million more than under the Day-Carroll scenario.
“Now you have to make up $12 million in lost state and local revenues,” Huckelberry said, contrasting his proposed budget with theirs.
To make up the deficit, the county administrator said departments would have cut budgets by an average of 9 percent.
Some, such as the sheriff’s department, could not sustain such deep cuts without the community suffering a loss of services, he said.
The Huckelberry budget also calls for a reduction in secondary property tax rates, from $1.42 to $1.23.
Taken together, the overall property tax rate would stand at $4.62 per $100 of assessed value — the lowest it’s been since 1982.
Carroll and Day have not proposed cutting secondary property tax rates.
Still, under their plan, the total property tax rate would be lower at $4.51.
Day said the larger budget cuts she and Carroll want are needed this year to prepare for what she believes will be an even more difficult budgeting session in fiscal 2010.
“We need to slim down and prepare for what’s coming next year,” Day said.
Day said she and Carroll intend to push for the cuts in the coming weeks as county supervisors continue to debate spending.
|Two budget scenarios
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and county supervisors Ray Carroll and Ann Day have differing ideas about property tax rates and spending for the coming fiscal year. Here’s some of what has been proposed.
Primary property tax rate
• Huckelberry: $3.39
• Carroll-Day: $3.28
• Current: $3.60
Secondary property tax rate
• Huckelberry: $1.23
• Carroll-Day: $1.42
• Current: $1.42
Total estimated general fund revenue
• Huckelberry: $481,334,223
• Carroll-Day: $469,216,715
• Current fiscal year: $469,216,715
Departmental budget cuts
• Huckelberry: 3 percent
• Carroll-Day: 5 percent