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Understanding Ballot Issues: Courthouse, Public Transit

NaboursThe City of Flagstaff needs a new courthouse. No question about it. It is a city obligation to process our criminal and traffic infractions. No one likes to pay for courthouses or jails, but they are part of the system that keeps us safe.

We have wrung every dollar of use that we can from the present courthouse. It is literally falling apart. And the timing is good because Coconino County wants to go 50/50 with us on a new shared downtown courthouse with a parking garage. Let me repeat that – with a parking garage.

This election, you will be asked to vote on Prop 412. A “yes” vote will authorize the City to borrow $12 million to pay for its half of the new courthouse and parking garage. Because we borrow when other loans are paid off, your property tax will not go up, but the tax won’t go down either.

We must do something. If we don’t join with the county to share a courthouse, we will have to rent and remodel a building at considerable expense. I’m voting yes on Prop 412.

On another matter, I remember hearing a presentation on the City of Flagstaff’s “transit tax” for buses about 10 years ago. The then city manager was asked, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy all riders a car?” At that time, it probably would have been cheaper. That’s not the case anymore.

I bring this up because you will be asked, on Nov. 8, to continue the portion of the city sales tax that is allocated to our Mountain Line system. You may not know that your sales tax helps operate the bus system. It has for nearly 20 years.

Next to this column are charts that show how city sales tax is allocated and how the bus system is funded.

In contemplating how you will vote, consider these points:

  • Bus ridership has now reached about two million per year
  • The bus system has a contract with NAU that allows students to leave their cars at home
  • The bus system allows many people to get to work and school who have no alternative
  • The bus system gets cars off the road

To continue (not increase) the sales tax for transit, vote yes on prop 411.


City Sales Tax
General City Operations   1.0%
Bus System                           0.3%
Roads and Urban Trails     0.4%
Road Repair                           0.3%
Bus System Funding
Rider Fees            22%
City Tax                   50%
Federal Grants       28%


By Jerry Nabours 




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