Mark L. Johnson
Swimming In Taxes
Marana is planning to raise the sales tax to fund a proposed Community Center and Aquatic Center.
TA has remained neutral regarding the project itself but we are concerned about how the project is to be funded, especially with other high priority projects that need funding in Marana (see CIP).
Survey & Relative Need?
The Parks & Recreation Master Plan 2020-2030 did include a section for this proposed $36 million facility. A community survey showed that only the Northwest Region (west of I-10) survey respondents rated the Community Center and Aquatic Center above 60% as a high priority. In the other regions, only about 45% of the respondents rated these projects as a high priority.
Which Sales Tax?
Hotel Sales Tax
As TA pointed out in Lease-onomics Part I, Marana has 20 Sales Tax Variations. For example, the Tortolita Preserve (TP) Lease payment to the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) is funded by the Hotel Sales Tax. A portion of the Hotel Sales Tax goes to the Bed Tax Fund which in turn funds the TP Lease payment. Tourism is paying for the TP Lease not Marana residents!
Why not raise the Hotel Sales Tax to fund the Community Center and Aquatic Center?
Construction Sales Tax
Marana also has a 4% Construction Sales Tax, which is charged to developers for the materials they use in all construction in Marana. On many occasions Marana has given developers incentives and waived this tax after certain thresholds are met. In Lease-onomics Part II we pointed out several of these types of concessions with the Dove Mountain Master developer.
Why not raise the Construction Sales Tax and Eliminate Developer Concessions to fund the Community Center and Aquatic Center?
Bottom line: There are several sales tax options that can avoid a general sales tax increase which will burden the citizens of Marana.
Why not first initiate a private funding campaign and give the Marana business persons, farmers, philanthropists and more the opportunity to contribute to the Community Center and Aquatic Center and maybe get their name on it?
Who Pays The O&M
The Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs for a facility like this will be immense. Heating a large public pool is not cheap. The ongoing O&M costs must be considered in a life-cycle cost analysis. Facility Use Fees must be considered.
Why not conduct a long-term life cycle cost analysis that includes the capital outlay and the ongoing O&M Costs including Facility Use Fees?
Put It On The Ballot
Marana legal stalwarts have informed TA that Marana is not required to get voter approval for a proposed sales tax increase like this. But they are not prevented from getting approval. A vote of all the residents seems fair game.
Why not put the proposed sales tax to fund the Community Center and Aquatic Center on the 2022 ballot?
Let Your Voice Be Heard
Marana is conducting four (4) public meetings on this topic with the first on July 15 at the Twin Peaks Elementary School. You can also provide feedback at the on-line feedback form. You can find more information on the public meetings and the feedback form at the Community Center and Aquatic Center website.