Pinal Partnership urged to support new road tax

(Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents a coalition of property and business owners throughout Pinal County who have worked to bring new transportation infrastructure to the region.)

By Mark Cowling | Pinal Central

COOLIDGE — Citizens who’ve paid the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for the last few years aren’t likely to see refunds, local state legislators said Friday morning at the monthly Pinal Partnership breakfast.

The best option now, they said, is to work to pass it again. Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland said approximately $87.8 million has been collected and asked what can be done to make sure it stays in Pinal County.

Rep. Neal Carter, R-San Tan Valley, said he was surprised when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled 4-3 against the tax, “particularly because they allowed us to collect it, which normally would suggest they were sympathetic to our side.”

He learned a West Valley city had a similar case once and the Legislature was able to pass a bill authorizing the money to be spent. But Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer looked into it and found it wasn’t an option here, Carter said, because the case rests on the theory that the tax is illegal. An illegal tax is supposed to be refunded to the payers, in this case the retailers who collected it, he said.

Pinal could ask major retailers to relinquish the tax to the county, “but I don’t think that’s going to fly with them,” Carter said. “Legally, we don’t see a path forward for returning the money (to the citizens). What we do have is the ability to reauthorize the tax moving forward.”

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