Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:
The PinalCentral article "Audit: 2 Pinal towns misused transportation funds" radically mischaracterizes the town's HURF and Excise debt. The town of Superior has been diligently working to address this use over the last five years and has made significant progress in reducing the net interfund borrowing. The borrowing in question happened over a decade ago during the Great Recession, when community leaders mistakenly used dedicated street funds to pay general fund operating expenses. Rather than paving streets, they used that money to pay the police and fire and other general fund expenses. None of the town officials who made those decisions still work for the town and have not for almost a decade.
The borrowing reached a maximum of over $2.8 million, a huge interfund debt for a town of our size. We have been diligently correcting by spending money on significant street projects. Our 2020 audit will be released soon and will show that we have reduced the borrowing to just over $1.6 million, decreasing the total by $1.2 million in the last five years. This means that we have spent an average of $240,000 a year on street projects from the general fund.
The fund borrowing not only means that the general fund owes the street fund a substantial sum of money; it means that for almost 10 years almost no money was spent on maintaining or improving our streets. A 2017 Transportation Pavement Study found this deferred maintenance to be valued at over $6 million. The town has been following this study diligently over the last three years and has completed significant projects that were identified as high priority.
The auditor general's report focuses on a year that was difficult for all of the small towns on the audit report. According to our accountants, our excise imbalance is now completely paid off. The auditor general report does not give any credit for overpayment in previous years and does not average years, so year to year economic pressures cause the small towns to receive unnecessary bad press and the threat of even more economic pressure by the withholding of streets revenues by the state government.