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Tucson agenda

Pima County Supes to address cash bail changes, capital funding tax hike

A quick look at what's planned for local government meetings

During a meeting Tuesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will jump into the question of eliminating cash bail for petty offenders.

Amelia Craig Cramer, who used to be the deputy Pima County attorney in charge of the civil division, will present the proposal. She is working with the NAACP on this issue.

The idea isn’t new. In fact the not-so-liberal Arizona Supreme Court Task Force on Fair Justice for All recommended eliminating cash bail for low-level, non-violent offenders in 2016. It’s been a hallmark of criminal justice reform and has gained momentum in recent years in academic and legal circles. 

On the other hand, those criminal justice reform efforts have coincided with statistics showing crime on the rise and the elimination of cash bail has been blamed/used as a bogeyman to attack those reforms. The increase can be attributed to small changes in small numbers leading to big changes in percentages.

The numbers provide Republicans like Supervisor Steve Christy the chance to say, "Hey wait a minute now..." 

Still Cramer's report included in the agenda packet for the meeting says more than 450,000 Americans are in jail awaiting trial only because they can't afford to post bail. 

Either way, pushing cash bail elimination would have been a lot easier politically had crime rates at least remained unchanged while the reforms were taking place.

Christy is no doubt clearing his throat on this one. 

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But for all the guff Board Chairwoman Sharon Bronson has taken from the Left on issues like the minimum wage, this is her agenda item. She has been talking about changes to criminal justice system for years.

COVID, leave and leftovers

The county board will also take up coronavirus testing in virtually all regards possible with one of the most all encompassing bits of agenda-ese I’ve seen in some time: "Discussion/Direction/Action: COVID testing capacity expansion, testing sites security, take home test kits capacity and their distribution, mobile testing in rural areas, testing funding needs."

That pretty much sums up public sentiment on testing right now.

The supervisors will also vote on whether to expand paid family leave from six weeks to 12 weeks. County human resources staff estimates the cost of this expanded benefit will run $900,000.

Last month the board agreed to provide full pay for six weeks at an estimated cost of $250,000 per year. The four Democrats rolled right over Christy on the vote. 

HR staff are coming back for another bite at the proverbial apple, and we'll see how deep they can sink their teeth.

The supes will also discuss Supervisor Matt Heinz's idea of changing the the county's pay-as-you-go policy in a way that raises primary property taxes more than currently planned to pay for capital projects. The county is looking to shift 60 percent of the savings from paying off debt with the secondary property tax into capital projects funded by the primary property tax. Heinz wants to accelerate that to 80 percent. So as secondary taxes fall, primary taxes would climb.

The county needs money for capital but I explained a couple weeks ago why this is dangerous policy.

The board will also consider Supervisor Adelita Grijalva's proposal to start each meeting with a land acknowledgment statement. That’s just a statement declaring the land of Pima County once belonged to peoples who had it taken from them.

Christy has called the idea divisive. Isn't taking the land in the first place the divisive part? Just asking.

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The finance staff will also provide the preliminary budget briefing to the board as planning gets underway to cobble together the Fiscal Year 2022/23 budget.

Up Marana way, down in Santa Cruz

Up in Marana, the Town Council will get a budget presentation from Town Manager Terry Rozema. This is standard practice at the top of the budget process. The council discusses its priorities and the manager reminds them of budget constraints.

The council will also discuss Rozema’s contract during an executive session.

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will vote this week on spending more than $2 million on upgrades at Nogales International Airport – including $1.5 million on high and medium-intensity runway lights.

The money is coming from state transportation grants but the supervisors still must approve spending the money. It’s their basic appropriation authority.

This isn’t the Nogales International Airport on the Sonora side of the border. It’s the Nogales International Airport the county runs on the U.S. side. It’s a general aviation airport, so don't try to book flights on Delta.

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Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bronson has asked that her colleagues discuss ending cash bail for small-time offenders.

The Tucson agenda

Public meetings this week:

Pima County Board of Supervisors

Marana Town Council

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors

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