VOTER-APPROVED ROAD REPAIR WORK CONTINUES - Southern Arizona Paving and Construction Co., under contract with the City of Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT), is continuing its road repair program associated with the voter-approved $100 million, five-year street bond program. Today, through Feb. 14, crews will be working on Speedway Boulevard, from Wilmot Road to Kolb Road. The work will take place from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Travel lane restrictions will be in place during the work period. However at least two lanes of travel will be maintained in both directions. Read the news release from Tucson Department of Transportation. Learn more about the City of Tucson's Road Recovery Bond Program.
PIMA COUNTY INCREASES PROPERTY VALUES FOR TAX PURPOSES TO MANY - Property valuation notices mailed last week by the Pima County Assessor's Office generally show increases for property owners - some even seeing double-digit jumps. An increase in valuations means an increase in property taxes paid by the property owner unless Pima County property tax rates are reduced an equivalent amount. An Assessor’s Office analysis of median valuations by area shows that South Tucson and properties near Tucson International Airport saw the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, and Midvale/Drexel Heights area valuations were up by 18 percent. The increases in valuations won't be reflected in tax bills until 2015, but a 2012 voter-approved change in state law dealing with how property taxes are assessed limits tax increases to 3 percent. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
MESA MAYOR CALLS FOR INNOVATION BY CITIES - Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, says cities must pursue innovation in order to support job creation, improve education, lift people out of poverty, and invest in the future. Addressing the Winter Meeting of the Conference of Mayors last month, Smith told his colleagues that the 363 metro economies of the United States contribute more than 90 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic product and account for 86 percent of American jobs. He said that's cause for further investment in America’s cities, particularly in terms of infrastructure. “The innovations that drive this country begin with cities and begin with mayors," he said. Read more from U.S. Mayor.
REPORT: ARIZONA PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSION SYSTEMS GAINING STABILITY - A bipartisan think tank study says Arizona’s public pension systems for state employees, public safety personnel and corrections officers are on a path toward financial stability. The study from the Grand Canyon Institute shows changes enacted in 2011 have limited the growth of future liabilities, despite a current funding gap of $14.5 billion. The changes included changing minimum retirement ages based on years of service, while also increasing employee contributions into the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System. The changes apply to those hired after July 1, 2011. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
MEXICAN GRAY WOLF POPULATION ON THE RISE - The Southwest’s endangered Mexican gray wolves continued a four-year expansion in numbers last year, growing from 75 to 83, State and Federal officials announced Friday. There now are 37 wolves in the forests of eastern Arizona and 46 in New Mexico. The population has nearly doubled since 2009. The Mexican gray wolf recovery program started in 1998 with re-introductions from a few captive-bred wolves. Read more from the Arizona Republic