by Jim Nintzel
Critics of Pima County government often point to the bond program when they’re knocking the Board of Supervisors or Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
They say the county allows voters the opportunity to borrow too much and shifts the money around in order to reward friends and punish enemies.
Former state lawmaker Terri Proud was one of the loudest critics of Pima County’s bond program, accusing Huckelberry of having “repeatedly taken bond money and spent it on projects other than what voters intended.”
Proud first tried to run legislation that would have allowed the small towns in Pima County to veto bond projects, but eventually settled on passing a bill calling for an audit of the Pima County bond program.
That audit came out today and Huckelberry is calling it a “complete validation of the integrity and importance of the bond program.”
“We hold as sacred voter trust and believe strongly that voters must have assurance that they will get what they paid for,” Huckelberry said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased that this independent review has unequivocally found Pima County to be accountable and transparent in its management of these programs.”
The audit notes that using bonds that were approved by voters in 1997, 2004 and 2006, the county had completed 477 of 513 projects (or 93 percent) on time or ahead of deadline. Any changes were approved by the Board of Supervisors, “without any indication in the board’s records that changes were made to reward or punish an entity, party, or official who stood to benefit from or be affected by the project.
UPDATED: The Range reached out to Proud, who did not seek reelection last year, for a comment. She tells us via Facebook that she has no quarrel with the audit's conclusions.
"I'd like to thank Mr. Huckelberry and his staff for their cooperation during this audit," Proud says. "I am pleased it turned out well. It's my hope that this audit will restore some confidence back into the taxpayers in Pima County knowing that the bond monies are being taken care of appropriately."
We’ll have more after we’re dug deeper into the audit, but if you want to look it over, it’s here: bd-auditor.general.bond.audit.report.pdf