Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Annexation of airport won’t be easy task for city

Tucson’s annexation of Raytheon Missile Systems is all but guaranteed by a 1995 contract clause requiring the company to support the city’s move by 2010 in exchange for an already-paid $7.5 million in cash.

A closed deal is expected to bring in more than $1 million in tax revenue the fiscal year that begins July 1, officials said.

But the real prize for city coffers and the logical next step in the expansion of city limits – Tucson International Airport – is no ace in the hole.

According to a 1995 unsigned internal memo, there “will most likely be lengthy, sensitive, high-level negotiations needed to annex TIA.”

“The complexity of annexing both TIA and Raytheon together was probably the main reason earlier efforts were aborted,” the memo states.

The recommendation in bold type at the top of the memo reads, “Pursue annexation of Raytheon followed by annexation of TIA.”

The city has approached TIA to work out a deal “several times over the past 20 years,” the memo states, but the airport authority refused, saying it opposed any change that would increase the costs to its tenants.

A 2005 estimate of how much the city would get per year through annexing the airport put the figure at $1.5 million using 2004 data.

The city could tax car rentals, space and land leases, cargo landing fees, jet fuel sales, parking fees, food, drinks, gifts and utility taxes.

The estimate did not take into account the use tax, a type of alternative sales tax that officials say is being used in the Raytheon deal. The details of that deal won’t be available until March 24, when a City Council public hearing is held, officials said.

Tucson is facing a projected $30 million shortfall the fiscal year that begins July 1 and has identified annexations as a way to make up some of the deficit.

City Manager Mike Hein has not returned calls for comment since Thursday.

Paula Winn, a spokeswoman for the Tucson Airport Authority, said in a statement Monday that there have been annexation talks in the past, though none recently, and the airport authority has no position on the city’s annexation of Raytheon.

She said the authority also had no position on the potential annexation of the airport itself, which was built on city land.

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