RTA construction cash for potholes? Pima supervisors must get on board

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RTA construction cash for potholes? Pima supervisors must get on board

CREATED Mar 22, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson City Councilmember Steve Kozachik has a plan to patch up miles of potholes but it needs a green light from Pima County Supervisors and it's not at all clear the idea will get any traction.

Kozachik wants voters to decide whether the Regional Transit Authority should shift millions of dollars from building new roads to fixing old ones.

Kozachik wants to devote about 20 percent of the millions in sales tax you're paying into RTA into fixing streets, instead of building new, or wider roads.

He says, "This is not a new tax; reallocate the tax you're already paying into road repair."
Because voters approved RTA based on the promise of new roads and bridges, any change in the plan would require you to vote again.
Drivers we asked like the idea of moving part of RTA's money to maintenance.

Sharon Zoyetz says, "I would if I could be guaranteed that they would use if for fixing the roads.  A little skeptical about that?  A little skeptical."

Steve Hayden says, "As far as putting in front of the voters money to fix roads, I think that would pass in a flash."

But an election would require the RTA board asking the Pima Board of Supervisors to call the election.  The Authority's Executive Director says RTA's devoted to improving capacity, not road repair, so it's not ready to request a vote.
Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson tells KGUN9 she might favor revising priorities for new construction, but not to move money to maintenance.
District 5 Supervisor Richard Elias says before deciding to call for a vote on shifting RTA funds for roads, he'd have to balance public input now, against the promise of new roads in the original RTA vote.

He says, "There's a lot of people now that are thinking RTA money could be converted into different kind of uses.  I just think we need to be very careful about following through with the promises that were made to the voters by the RTA."

RTA's Executive Director suggests local jurisdictions need to lobby harder to keep state lawmakers from diverting gas tax money to balance the state budget, when that money was meant to go back to cities and counties to maintain their streets.