Letter: Facts every voter needs to know about Props 416/417

Peg Chapados, InMaricopa |

My fellow Maricopans, it's time to make a critical decision for our city and county. The Nov. 7, all mail-in election asks for your vote on Prop 416 and Prop 417. These two items are of vital importance to our future, but there is a lot of misinformation and narrowly-focused misperceptions about what these items will do for Maricopa. I want to share some facts with you so that you can cast an informed vote.

FACT: State Route 347 and East-West Corridor improvements are included in Phase 1 of the "164 new Parkway lane miles throughout Pinal County" (publicity pamphlet, pg. 7) even though they are not specifically listed by name on the ballot.

FACT: The Maricopa Area Transportation Plan concluded that if improvements to SR347 are not made, the Level of Service rating by 2028 will be "F" - roadway failure. Now is the time to begin the improvement process.

FACT: This is a county sales (excise) tax, not a property tax. The proposed tax is 1/2 cent for 20 years.

FACT: The average cost per household is estimated at $88, or about $7.34 per month. It is not just Pinal County residents, but anyone who purchases taxable items within Pinal County.

FACT: There are multiple projects, with two in the first of three phases designated for Maricopa. One is options to improve flow and alleviate traffic congestion on SR347. The other is a proposed East-West corridor improvement, which offers an alternative route to Interstate 10. There is also additional funding to support our local transit system.

FACT: The two Maricopa projects are estimated at around $100 million. Relying on current funding capacities or federal and state assistance won't get the job done.

FACT: Without funding provided through the tax, Pinal County cities and towns have zero leverage ability to request transportation improvements. ADOT and others have made it clear that without local contributions, infrastructure projects will need to "take a number and get in line." The line is already long and the number (wait time) is over 800 years.

FACT: Growth is inevitable, bringing more traffic, congestion, demand for services and the need for expanded infrastructure. State and federal governments have not been responsive in allocating adequate funds for critical transportation projects. It's up to Pinal County stakeholders to identify a viable plan and funding mechanism, namely Props 416 and 417.

FACT: Both items must be approved for projects to be executed. Prop 416 asks for approval of the Pinal County Regional Transportation Plan, or RTP. Prop 417 asks for approval of the tax element (1/2 cent for 20 years). Both items need a "YES" vote to pass.

FACT: Maricopa faces multiple challenges, yet we continue to grow. Our need to expand and improve our transit system has a direct correlation and impact on our economic development and growth. To attract business, retail, employment opportunities, create jobs, expand our housing options beyond single family residences and provide public safety services, we need to find solutions for transportation and transit needs. These issues are inter-connected, and without viable funding, our options for continued development and sustainability only increase obstacles rather than opportunities. The question is, can obstacles be overcome, by who and at what cost?

As a taxpayer, councilmember and passionate Maricopa advocate, I urge you to get the answers needed or additional information to cast an informed vote. As a resident and neighbor, I ask you to join me and VOTE YES on Props 416 & 417. Thank you.

Peg Chapados is a member of Maricopa City Council.