Cities, towns seek transportation tax extension

Phoenix Metro

By Nathan Brown and Camryn Sanchez | Arizona Capitol Times  

Legislation is in the works to extend an extra half-cent sales tax that has funded major expansions of Maricopa County’s highways and public transportation systems over the past few decades. 

Maricopa County voters first approved the tax in 1985 and approved Proposition 400 in 2004, extending it for another 20 years.  

With the sunset date coming in 2024, the Maricopa Association of Governments is gearing up to push lawmakers in 2022 to authorize a public vote on whether Maricopa County voters want to extend the tax, said MAG Executive Director Eric Anderson. MAG is comprised of mayors from 27 cities and towns, and officeholders from three Indian nations, Maricopa County and parts of Pinal County.  

According to Arizona law, 56.2% of the money collected by the sales tax is used for freeways and state highways in Maricopa County, 10.5% goes to improving arterial streets and the remaining third is used for public transportation. 

It has been a major source of funding for major freeway projects. The original tax and the renewal helped to finance construction of state Route 51 and loops 101, 202 and 303, including the recently completed South Mountain Freeway extension of 202 – as well as helping to pay for the Phoenix area’s bus system and the light rail. The Prop. 400 annual report shows that revenue from the proposition increased every year since 2010. 

“It’s a significant source of funding,” Anderson said of the tax. “Right now, we’re collecting around $600 million a year. 

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