HB 2656 establishes oversight of bonds - The Explorer: Columns

HB 2656 establishes oversight of bonds

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Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:00 am

The current flap about House Bill 2656 provides an interesting window into the soul of the Pima County Board of Supervisors and its Administrator.

To give local municipalities the ability to oversee the county-approved bond money, which all of us pay for, this bill establishes an oversight committee composed of representatives from local towns and the county. The members would be responsible to their local citizenry to make sure that money the county borrows from its taxpayers gets spent in the way they voted for.

A simple concept, but one that is raising a scream of protest from several quarters.

Jon Miles from the Pima County Housing Commission is quoted, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Corky Poster, an architect, says, “Back off and let us do our job the way we know how.” Brian Flagg, who runs a soup kitchen in South Tucson, says of the bill’s proponents, “These guys (legislators) need to get real.”

Why such a howl from the Housing Commissioner, an architect, and the proprietor of a soup kitchen?  All the bill proposes, is to have someone besides Chuck Huckleberry oversee the expenditure of the millions of dollars we entrust to him. You’d think the bill had subjected someone to a forced colonoscopy.

But, Brian, the present system is broke: hence the bill. Mr. Huckelberry himself says that the Republican legislators behind it, “probably wouldn’t even know which bond projects have been approved by the voters.” Indeed. Neither do most of the citizens who voted for it, although we assume that the money raised gets spent for all of the projects it was raised for.

Wrong. In reality, once the money is in hand the Board of Supervisors has a great deal of latitude in deciding where it gets spent, and this puts power into the hands of the County Administrator. Having an oversight panel hinders nothing; it merely ensures that the rules are followed and the money gets spent as promised.

Mr. Huckelberry is, as always, congenial and dismissive. Like you would be towards an errant teenager with whom you should be tolerant until the young lad grows up. He explains, “they (the legislators) really don’t know the process.” In an earlier article I wrote concerning Marana’s takeover of the North Marana Wastewater Treatment plant, he responded that I was “misinformed.”

Apparently, we are all misinformed and none of us know the process; only Mr. Huckelberry does. But this is why House Bill 2656 needs to pass.

David Bowen, Marana Town Councilman

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