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FLORENCE -- Officials throughout Pinal County welcomed a decision by a state appeals court determining a sales tax to fund road improvements can move forward.

"I am very pleased with the outcome,” said County Manager Louis Andersen. “The county is ready to start building these critical infrastructure/road projects and have been for some time now. This is a great way to start the new year.”

In 2015 the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) was established by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to be a public improvement and taxing subdivision of the State of Arizona to coordinate multi-jurisdictional transportation planning, improvements, and funding.

The RTA adopted the Regional Transportation Plan in June 2017 (Proposition 416), which identified key roadway and transportation projects to be developed over the next 20 years. The plan explained both Propositions and the need for the excise tax (Proposition 417) in order to complete the planned transportation projects.

In November 2017, Pinal County voters simultaneously approved Prop 416 to adopt a regional transportation plan and Prop 417 to enact an excise tax to fund the plan. However shortly afterwards legal action took place with the Goldwater Institute and a court ruling froze all monies related to the excise tax.

In its decision Thursday the Court of Appeals wrote, “Like the tax court, we decline to consider whether Harold Vangilder, as a consumer of goods and services, has standing to challenge the validity of the tax, because the other plaintiffs who joined him in filing the complaint operate businesses clearly subject to the TPT...We disagree with both the factual premise and the legal import of Vangilder’s argument.”

In September 2019, lawyers from the RTA, the Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Department of Revenue squared off before the Arizona Court of Appeals Division 1 in Phoenix.

"This is a great victory for Pinal County and its residents,” Chairman Anthony Smith said. “My hope is that we can finally get about the business of building the modern road network that the voters approved over two years ago."

To date, there is slightly over $29 million ready to be used for improvements. The RTA is extremely eager and anxious to finally be able to move forward with the much needed roadway and transportation projects.

Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy said: “Apache Junction and the surrounding communities are in line to reap huge benefits and improve our quality of life once the North-South Interconnect is completed."