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Valley Municipalities Fight for Tax Extension That Will Affect Futures

By June 13, 2023No Comments

By Philip Haldiman | Scottsdale Independent

For nearly 20 years, Proposition 400, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2005, has been funding some of the Valley’s most traveled roads, freeways and transit projects.

The tax will sunset in 2025, so legislators are at work on an extension, but some aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, with Gov. Katie Hobbs saying she has a deal backed by a majority of lawmakers from both parties to let Maricopa County voters decide on the tax.

Meanwhile, GOP leaders have their own plan.

If renewed when it expires 20 years later, the tax is expected to raise about $15 billion over its life, according to Maricopa Association of Governments, the agency developing the long-range transportation plan for the region.

It is a foundational policy issue upon which cities and towns across the Valley have relied upon, and many say it is crucial to the region’s future for generations to come.

As Maricopa County continues grow faster than any other county in the nation, that growth will need to be accommodated for.

Municipal officials across the Valley say even a gap in funding could harm the region, and that’s why many cities and towns are pushing get it on the ballot no later than 2024, despite a push at the Arizona Legislature to alter what MAG and cities believe is necessary.

Scottsdale Transportation and Streets Director Mark Melnychenko said Prop. 400 has great regional significance, and for it to sunset before renewal would put a heavy burden on municipalities, and lead to inconsistent arterials across city boundaries.

“Most of the city of Scottsdale’s portion of the freeway system was improved during the Prop 400 improvements. The East Valley freeway system was constructed first to accommodate growth and now the West Valley freeway system is completing build-out to serve growing West Valley cities,” Melnychenko said. “The entire system is connected, and holistically serves the entire metro area. These regional highways are the critical connections across cities.”


Dozens of road projects in Scottsdale have been funded by the Prop. 400 tax including: improvements to Scottsdale Road, Redfield Road, Northsight Boulevard, Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Miller Road; improvements to the intersection at Shea Boulevard; improvements to Carefree Highway from Cave Creek to Scottsdale roads; as well as Loop 101 interchanges at Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Raintree Road and Shea Boulevard.

If the Prop 400 tax sunsets, Scottsdale is estimated to lose $671 million in important transportation and transit funding, Melnychenko said. This equates to the 70% regional match for 15 roadway projects, bus rapid transit expansion into Scottsdale, improvements to the traffic interchange at Pima Road and Loop 101, bus purchases, and transit operations for the supergrid system and paratransit.

If the tax is not extended, Melnychenko said Scottsdale would lose the opportunity for improvements to many regional roadways in the area.

“Much of the success of Prop. 400 has been due to the Arterial Life Cycle Program funding that has provided regional funds to streets that have regional significance,” he said. “If the regional tax is removed, continuing improvements on these roadways would rely solely on each communities’ local funds.”

Valley freeways received most of the funding from Prop. 400, with transit improvements as the second highest funded mode followed by the arterial streets program.

Public transit is a vital service that provides an alternative to those who cannot or do not want to drive, Melnychenko said.

“We must maintain a functioning regional transit system that does not stop at the city of Scottsdale’s boundaries, but rather crosses jurisdictions to complete the regional system,” he said. “Routes should effectively serve major employment hubs, activity centers, local businesses, community services and schools throughout Scottsdale, and provide transfers to other routes that link to various parts of the Valley. Convenient and safe access to transit supports seniors, employees who work within and outside of Scottsdale, along with students from elementary to college age.”

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