Joint city, county meeting on water rates canceled
Needs to be rescheduled before June 22nd
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A planned joint meeting between the Tucson City Council and the Pima County Board of Supervisors scheduled for Friday to discuss differential water rates, PAYGO, and the RTA was canceled when three members of the city council said they could not attend the meeting. Without a city quorum, the meeting was canceled.
“I’m frustrated that it was,” said District 1 Supervisor Rex Scott, who initiated talks for the meeting.
Scott believes the city is wrong in trying to charge differential water rates to county residents.
Under a plan being considered by the city, the water utility would charge county customers from 10% to 50% more for their water service. Many communities in Arizona already do.
“The people I represent, there are thousands of them who would be affected by this higher rate,” Scott said. “They feel its divisive and punitive and completely inequitable.”
But the city has an issue it wants to discuss with the county as well.
Last year the county passed a system to pay for road maintenance called PAYGO (pay as you go). City leaders say it taxes city residents to pay for county roads.
“In the spirit of regional cooperation, I would like to maybe offer the Board of Supervisors that we walk away from differential rates if they rescind PAYGO,” said Steve Kozachik, Tucson City Council member from Ward 6. “There’s a win there for everybody.”
That would have certainly an offer that would have been made if in fact the scheduled meeting was held. Whether it will be is still up in the air.
The city council held a meeting Tuesday to discuss the water rates but put off any decision until its scheduled June 22, 2021 meeting.
It was thought it would be a good idea if both sides say down before then to discuss it.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said she is “optimistic that this will be able to be re-scheduled before June 22nd so that they can have a productive conversation about differential water rates, the RTA, and Pima County’s PAYGO program that invests Tucson residents’ taxpayer dollars exclusively in unincorporated Pima County.”
Others like Kozachak are not so sure the members will be able to get their schedules together for the meeting prior to June 22nd.
“I was looking forward to the meeting,” he said. “I thought we were going to be able to have an adult-level conversation about it.”
A survey by the city which was released prior to Tuesday’s council meeting showed 81% of the respondents were strongly opposed while another 7% were somewhat opposed.
“I’m not sold on differential rates,” he said. “I know that most of the council members are.”
And that survey gives some of the board members some confidence they have the upper hand.
“I would hope that given the volume of opposition to the higher rates,” Scott said. “It would be enough to convince them that they’re going down the wrong path.”
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