South Tucson City Council takes steps to enact tax increase

Posts notice of intent to raise sales taxes, public hearing in July

The South Tucson City Council is moving forward with posting requirements for a proposed half-percent sales tax increase in utilities, communications and retail sales. The Council is required to post their intentions for 60 days, hold a public hearing, and then wait another 60 days before it can enact the increase.

If the Council later authorizes the sales tax increase, posting the announcement now sets up the opportunity to enact the increase as of September 1, 2019.

“For every month delay it’s a loss of $13,000,” Lourdes Aguirre, the finance director, said.  

The Citizens Advisory Committee convened last Friday but did not have time to review and discuss budgeting decisions the city faces.

View of a Citizens Advisory Committee member’s folder taken at the South Tucson City Council meeting on Monday, April 29, 2019.

“There is concern over the benefits and not so good benefits of raising the sales tax and things like that,” Dennis Luttrell, an advisory committee member, said in a brief presentation to the Council. Luttrell also mentioned two new members were elected to the advisory committee including longtime Tucson political figure, Dan Eckstrom.

“I don’t think we’ve had enough discussions with the Citizens Advisory Committee,” John Vidaurri, city manager, said.  But, at the same time, Vidaurri advocated for moving forward with the posting requirement, just in case.

The Council moved forward with four other budgeting options including unfunding an administrative captain position in public safety, not hiring a planning and zoning director for at least six months, removing a line item that deals with pensions, and dipping into the unassigned general fund balance which currently sits at $681,000, according to Aguirre.

It is uncertain how much money the city will ultimately use from the general fund because of the sales tax increase question.

The proposed sales tax increase is expected to generate roughly $125,000 for the city.

Councilwoman Rita Rogers was not happy with moving forward on the posting requirement and voted against it.

“There are so many people that want to come here…the last thing we need to do is go after the people…we need to do away with the stipend of the council,” Rogers said.

Councilman Robert Romero responded that he gave his stipend back voluntarily when he first came on to the Council.

“You guys know what’s best for us…we have a lot of faith and confidence in your judgment,” Romero said to the city manager and finance director.

“I think if we have to raise taxes one way or another…let’s just get it done, get it over with,” Councilman Herman Lopez said.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase on July 1, 2019.