Frequently Asked Questions
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Please check out our Projected Town of Vail Budget Feasibility Analysis PDF document.
Vail is a prime area for growth due to the many attractive facets of our community. Many large parcels are currently being looked at for development. With an incorporated town, we can appoint our own planning and zoning function made up of local people. This gives us the ability to have our town grow the way we want it to.
A rural or semi-rural lifestyle appeals to many of the residents of Vail. By incorporating, we can help retain that way of life since local residents will have control of our destiny.
Rather than being an unrepresented community in a large county where the demands for resources are limited, an incorporated entity can:
- Express itself by exercising self-determination in providing the levels of service they need and can afford.
- Local government is more responsive and attuned to the needs of the residents; represented by elected representatives who are closer to the people, and as a result, can react more quickly to the community’s needs.
- A town government will receive substantial amounts of state revenue sharing dollars which don’t flow to unincorporated areas like Vail.
- An unincorporated town is under the jurisdiction of the county, and therefore doesn’t have much control over the level of services provided to the residents. The county must provide services as uniformly as possible throughout the unincorporated areas of the county. On the other hand, a town council has the authority to determine the level of services that the town desires and can afford.
- An incorporated town is able to plan for the future growth of the community by adopting planning and zoning regulations which will provide for smart land use (existing zoning is grandfathered). Thoughtful, local planning helps protect the community from undesirable land use patterns.
- A separate town helps preserve the unity and pride of a community and maintains local individuality.
- As a governmental unit, the town can better represent its citizens in transactions with the County, State, and Federal governments which may gain it access to additional resources within the region. In addition, local government may be used as a vehicle for positive progress in the larger community.
- A town can help spur positive growth acting as a seedbed for residential, retail, and commercial expansion to benefit the community.
The most common argument against incorporation is that it will increase taxes. In the case of Vail incorporation, we are planning for no increase in property tax and a tax neutral strategy. This means no municipal property tax (which Tucson has), and a possible two percent (2%) sales tax equivalent to Tucson’s tax rate—which every other city or town in Arizona has (2% is the most common tax rate). Property taxes can be proposed by a Town Council BUT the voters must approve it to take effect.
Another con is incorporation is hard to do and even with state shared revenues, municipal budgets are tight. However, no incorporated city in Arizona has ever failed.
Vail has experienced unprecedented growth and can expect growth to continue... yet has no direct control or little influence over its future in the areas of service levels, infrastructure, or growth. After studying this issue for some time, community members believe incorporation is the best path for Vail to 1). Preserve its past 2). Improve service levels to the community [e.g. roads and police] 3). Provide more responsive local government 4). Exert more influence in how Vail grows and develops, and 5). Create a more
attractive and friendly environment for retail, commercial and residential development to benefit the community.
Our studies and proposed budget show that the Town of Vail can function within projected the budget with State revenue funds as indicated. We foresee no need (or desire) for a property tax at any time in the foreseeable future. Even if a property tax were needed, it could only be instituted by A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE. The only function the council can play is to recommend it—they cannot enact it without voter approval.
The Vail Community Action Board (VCAB) initiated an effort a few years ago to look at gaining a greater voice for Vail in terms of the local community having a greater say in how Vail develops and receives its share of County regional, and State resources for a growing, developing community. Today, these resources are largely going to communities within Arizona that have organized.
VCAB was instrumental in setting up a study group to look at different regional governance models; like incorporation, improvement districts, the Green Valley model, etc. At the conclusion of the study, VCAB held a town hall on April 20, 2011 to share the results with the community. Participants were shown the various options and asked to share their preference for a governance model. The overwhelming majority of participants selected Incorporation as a model to further study.
VCAB subsequently setup another study group on incorporation and invited a number of local residents to participate, based on their background and expertise. They spent 12-months examining the ins and outs of incorporation; studying things like financial feasibility, public services, and governance models. They met with local, regional, and state experts to understand the requirements and feasibility for incorporation. They took a disciplined approach to look at incorporation; examining legal, geographic, and population requirements and then examined other small city incorporations in Arizona to determine whether it’s financially feasible and practical for Vail to incorporate without raising property taxes. After 12-months of study, the study group has determined that incorporation is feasible and desirable for Vail.
The VCAB now endorses the issue of incorporation. The VCAB originally agreed to sponsor feasibility studies on various models to increase Vail’s local and regional influence, including incorporation. The Town Hall meeting on October 29, 2012 was sponsored by VCAB to share the results of the analysis and they concluded their involvement in Vail incorporation.
An independent group of citizens has formed a committee (Citizens for Vail) to take the incorporation message to the local voters. They are inviting people within the community to contribute to and participate in the incorporation process.
A subcommittee was formed to determine a boundary. Several basic principles were established including “leaving no islands,” “allowing for growth,” and “not taking on huge municipal liabilities.” A balance was sought in determining the size of the boundaries. We felt it was important to keep the town at a manageable size in the beginning - to be sure the town didn't bite off more than it could chew. They should be large enough to allow the community to have control of the growth of the outlying areas. However, they should be small enough so that the cost of providing services is not prohibitive. Providing services to the far reaching areas could become unmanageable until the town becomes more experienced. Taking the leap from the freeway to Andrada was easy because the area is mostly vacant land. However, extending into the more heavily populated areas beyond that became risky. We are sure the town council will be willing to consider annexation later if the residents of those areas want it.
The rule can be waived if the neighboring city council approves a resolution approving the proposed incorporation. Based on our discussions with City of Tucson leaders, we believe they will support our request for incorporation.
It would encompass 43 square miles (Pima County is 9,187 Sq Mi), have approximately 11,500 residents, and be the 40th largest town out of the current 91 towns/cities in Arizona.
Today, as residents of Arizona, we pay state income tax, sales tax, gasoline tax, and vehicle registration tax. The State divides a portion of these taxes and distributes them back to local governments to the tune of $1.4B in the current fiscal year. Because Vail is an unincorporated entity—we get nothing! That makes us a donor community to areas like Maricopa County, which is ~93% incorporated (they get ~65% of the State revenue sharing dollars).
Based on population estimates, Vail would get ~$3.2M back to our community from taxes that we already pay.
It would be up to a local elected Town Council to determine how to best use the money. There are many possibilities including taking better care of our roads, building and maintaining community parks, working with the County to provide a library, etc. Of course, there will always be more uses than available money.
Only public roads will be maintained by the Town. Maintenance for private roads and wildcat roads will continue as it is today. The amount of road maintenance to be done will depend on the actual funds available in the Town budget; however, it is reasonable to expect that there will be significantly more funds available than are currently being used.
By statute, Arizona cities and towns have to provide administration, transportation services (roads), and police coverage. Cities and towns don’t have to provide fire, trash, water, sewer, social services, or parks.
We believe a new incorporated Vail can survive initially with the AZ revenue sharing dollars. We would basically be a contract city—contracting out to other entities for services—only we decide the service levels. We envision a bare bones staff to provide administrative support and public access to Town services. This is normal start up experience from looking at the other cities we have examined. And as the Town grows, more revenues would be provided by development impact fees and possibly a small sales tax, similar to what other cities do. And we have tried to position the Town boundaries to accommodate reasonable residential, retail, and commercial growth.
The vote will be held on November 5, 2013.
Registered voters who domicile within the proposed boundaries can vote. It requires a majority vote to take effect. Voters outside of the proposed boundaries aren’t eligible to vote according to state law.
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Vail participates in the Pima County Library District which is paid for as part of the property tax we already pay. That’s why we get a bookmobile once every two weeks. Incorporation may give us a stronger voice to get a County library in Vail.
If the voters approve incorporation, the county board of supervisors appoints seven persons from the community to serve as the first town council. This Appointed council serves until a new council is elected by voters in May following the incorporation.
The State is required to begin distributing funds to the Town immediately after election. The State makes the payments monthly. Meanwhile, the County is responsible for maintaining the services through the end of the fiscal year at their own expense. Accordingly, the town will not incur costs for roads and police until July 2014 giving them time to organize the services appropriately and to save the money to pay for them. The town will incur administrative costs during this period.
There is always a risk that the elected officials will not act as expected. In this case, our democratic system provides a way to replace elected officials who don’t heed our wishes. The advantage of a local government is that each person voting has a higher percentage of the voice, making it more likely for them to have influence.