/ Modified apr 28, 2017 4:20 p.m.

Episode 135: Tucson Sales Tax Election Begins, 19 Days to Vote by Mail

At issue: whether to raise sales tax a half percentage point to pay for police and fire equipment, road repair.

Tucson voters will receive ballots in the mail this week to decide whether to raise the city sales tax to 2.5 percent.

The city is asking voters to boost sales-tax revenue by an estimated $250 million in the next five years, and the proceeds would go to pay for police and fire equipment, and continue ongoing rehab of city streets in bad condition.

An increase is projected to cost about $3 a month for the average person, and it would be charged to taxable sales in Tucson, regardless of whether the buyer is from the city or elsewhere.

Ballots were sent to registered voters Wednesday and are due back to election officials by 7 p.m. May 16. City officials recommend mailing them back no later than May 10, and they can be hand-delivered to city election offices through 7 p.m. May 16.

In this episode of Metro Week we explore the sales tax question:

  • An overview of the sales tax, what it means for the local economy and where the money would be spent. AZPM’s Brandon Mejia explains 60 percent of the money would go to police and fire equipment, such as police cars and fire stations. The remaining 40 percent of the money would be spent on neighborhood and major streets, improving those that are in the worst state of disrepair in the city.

  • A pro-con discussion featuring leaders of the local political parties. The Pima County Democratic Party is endorsing the tax increase, and Chairwoman Jo Holt says it is one of the few ways the city can solve public safety and transportation needs. Pima County Republican Party Chairman David Eppihimer argues against the proposed increase, saying the city should find the money elsewhere in its budget and not ask taxpayers for more.

  • A look at how election officials combat fraud and illegal voting practices in every election, as explained by AZPM’s Christopher Conover.

  • A tour through the Old Pima County Courthouse as it undergoes renovation. The county is restoring it to its original 1928 look by removing walls, matching old paint samples and refurbishing the iconic tile dome. It will become a visitor’s center after the work is complete.

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