February 19, 2013 / Modified mar 22, 2013 9:39 a.m.

Road Bonds to Fund Tucson Repairs

Voter-approved increase in property taxes to pay for work that starts in fall


In November, Tucson voters approved a $100 million bond package to fix the city's ailing roads.

The road work is set to begin in about six months, said Daryl Cole, Tucson's Transportation Department director.

"Our target is the summer of this year," Cole said. The city plans to ask contractors to bid on the work, instead of doing the construction with city crews.

The new roadwork is being paid for by a voter-approved increase in property taxes. The city plans to sell $20 million in bonds each year for five years, because that's how much work the city decided it could tackle in a year, said Kelly Gottschalk, the city's finance director.

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The money will start coming in later this year.

"The tax gets set in August," Gottschalk said, which means the first payment is due in November, and then the following March.

Property taxes are calculated based on the assessed value of a home, which is the value the Pima County Assessor's Office gives each property for tax purposes. When the city asked voters to approve these bonds, they built interest into the bond, which is like a loan. The first year, residential property owners will likely pay about $3 for every $100,000 in assessed value, Gottschalk said.

As more bonds are sold, that amount will climb, but Gottschalk estimates homeowners will not pay more than $18 for every $100,000 in assessed value.

A homeowner with a $200,000 home would pay about $36 when the tax is at its highest, she said. As the bonds are paid down, the amount will decrease.

Cole said 85 percent of the money will go to fix major roads, and 15 percent for residential roads. The treatment each road will get varies based on its condition.

See a map of the roads, and the schedule for improvements.

The city isn't just tackling the worst roads. Some roads will get a simple seal to prevent them from deteriorating, while others that are in bad shape will basically be repaved, Cole said.

"Typical life span of a pavement in the Southwest is 20 years," without any maintenance, Cole said. "The idea is to provide the right treatment, if you will, to the right road at the right time, to extend that lifespan."

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