Tucson's Prop 412 Ballots Mailed This Week

By Paul Parisi   4-17-2023

City of Tucson voters will start receiving ballots in the mail starting April 19, 2023 for the May 16th Prop 412 special election. This election seeks voter approval for a new 27 year Tucson Electric Power (TEP) Franchise agreement that will raise electric rates for city residences.

The current agreement doesn’t run out until 2026, however the Tucson City Council unanimously voted to have this special election because of an urgency to pay for some low income people getting subsidies, burying power lines in selected areas and funding the controversial Tucson City Climate Action Plan. That plan includes removing driving lanes (road diets), reducing personal vehicle use by 40% by 2050 and promoting the novel 15 minute city concept. This coincides with the Tucson Mayor and Council declaring a “climate emergency” in 2020.

Tucson City franchise agreements and fees are not new. Even before Arizona became a state in 1912 and the Arizona Corporation Commission was formed to regulate utility rates, Tucson was negotiating franchise agreements with gas, electric, water and telephone companies. Tucson Electric Power got their first franchise agreement in 1901.

Back then as today, municipal franchise agreements provided utilities with easements and right of ways to serve current and future customers. Franchise fees were designed to cover administrative costs of municipal governments. Over the years, franchise fees have become special taxes that have nothing to do with benefiting citizens with affordable, reliable services.

By voting, you have a say in governmental policy. You, as a taxpaying citizen, have to determine if this rate increase benefits the citizenry by improving the quality of life, or if this new tax is in conflict with your priorities and ideology.

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country”. Samuel Adams