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Pima municipalities fear Legislature will raid impact fees

State lawmakers have pulled back on an effort to raid up to $210 million in development impact funds raised by cities and towns, but area officials say they are not convinced the issue has gone away.

The Pima Association of Government’s Regional Council aired the issue at its monthly meeting Thursday, with some members fearing that such an action could shred regional transportation improvement programs.

Impact fees collected by municipalities must be spent to lessen the effects of new development. The funds can be spent on roads, police and fire stations, and parklands.

The Legislature is facing a $3 billion deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Senate leaders have vowed not to act on any bills until a 2009-10 state budget is passed.

That is one factor blocking floor votes on the proposal, which would hold back $210 million from state shared sales tax revenues owed to municipalities.

Municipalities would then have to replace those lost shared revenues with money from impact fees to maintain services funded by the state tax receipts.

“It’s impossible to fathom how they’re going to implement this,” John Liosotos, transportation planning manager for PAG, told Regional Council members.

Support for the proposal among legislators in limited, Liosotos said.

“Everything we hear is there is not a lot of support in either party,” Liosotos said.

But Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis voiced concern that the proposal could come back later in the legislative session, after the budget issue is settled.

The measure has the backing of the homebuilding industry in the state, whose members have called for a moratorium on development impact fees during the down market for new homes.

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