Sales tax could one day fund local public transportation

YUMA, Ariz. – Leaders in Yuma County are looking to bring a sales tax that would fund public transportation.

Yuma County Administrator Robert Pickels said, “The cities and the town of Wellton and the County, the two higher education institutions and the two Indian tribes are all participating members of YCIPTA. Every one of us contributes at varying levels to the bus system.”

That’s something leaders throughout Yuma County want to change. County administrator Robert Pickels says they want to introduce a sales tax that would support local transit. He says ultimately voters would decide if that should happen.

“Go to the voters and ask the voters themselves, ‘is this something you want in the community. If so, are, you willing to support it with a sales tax?’”

Before the issue ever comes up on a ballot, a small change to state law must be passed that would give Yuma County the authority to bring the issue up to voters. Something Pickels says has received opposition since 2014.

“It failed then in last year’s legislative session and it failed again this year in the legislative session, because there was one senator — one state senator — that vehemently opposed the bill and would not allow it to proceed to a vote,” Pickels said.

We reached out to that senator — republican Debbie Lesko unsuccessfully. However, we discovered she was awarded ‘hero of the taxpayer’ by an activist group in 2013. Sherri Kreger says the bill that would pave the way to a sales tax for local transit is “extremely important for YCIPTA and the YCAT system. The transit tax would be a dedicated funding source, which would provide a consistent amount of funding to continue operations.”

The county administrator told us he and other community leaders will continue to seek support from legislators. However, it’s not likely to happen soon. Arizona’s 2015 legislative session adjourns mid-April.

“We have to be realistic about getting past this road block and look at what the other alternatives are,” Pickels said.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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