In my 25 years as a small business owner, my career has spanned economic booms and downturns. Through it all, I have gained a great deal of experience in managing budgets and industry trends, as well as developing long-term strategies.
It has become clear that one of the most important keys to success is having a vision. As Pinal County’s population rapidly grows toward nearly a half million residents, it is important to review past visions as we look to a prosperous future.
Not too long-ago Pinal County had a population under 100,000, according to a 1985 Special Census. At that time, Pinal County maintained a little more than 2,000 miles of roadways with almost 65% unpaved. Luckily, our local leaders had a vision to invest in transportation, which has positioned this county for our current success and long-term growth.
In 1986, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors proposed a half-cent tax to the voters dedicated to transportation. Proposition 400 was placed on the ballot and passed with 51.1% of the votes. The funds are distributed through a population-based formula among the cities and towns of Pinal County. For nearly 40 years, Pinal County has used this half-cent road excise tax to help improve streets and roads in the county, and its incorporated towns and cities.
Often referred to as “the pothole tax,” this program is the county’s Transportation Improvement and Maintenance Program. This successful program generated nearly $115 million in transportation funds between 1986 and 2006. During that time, just under 400 miles of roadways were surfaced, the number increased to almost 2,100 miles of roads, and about half of all roads were paved.
Facing the sunset of this essential tax in 2006, local leaders once again placed the proposal on the ballot in 2005. The voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 400 with a 73.7% majority. The 20-year life of this proposition is due to expire Dec. 31, 2026. Since 2006, the funds have been a vital part of paving and fixing roads, improving safety and supporting economic development as our population has nearly doubled again.
Four decades of commitment to maintaining our roads, fixing our potholes, and investing in our future has given us the results we have today. To help citizens better understand “the pothole tax,” a public effort called “Preserving Our Future” is being launched. Our vision is to educate the public about the program and how it is used for road improvements, safety enhancements and economic development in Pinal County.
We encourage all to visit www.PreservingPinal.com to learn more about the program and the potential expiration date as we maintain ongoing community discussion regarding transportation and maintenance needs. It is my honor to continue to serve Pinal County and preserve our future.
Jeffrey McClure is vice chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.