Rural Transportation Advocacy Council (RTAC)

Published on October 24, 2023


The best defense is a good RTAC: Arizona's Rural Transportation Advocacy Council meets in Yuma, Arizona for its 24th Annual Arizona Rural Transportation Summit.

This week, on Wednesday, October 18th, and Thursday, October 19th, the Rural Transportation Advocacy Council (RTAC) met in Yuma, Arizona for the 24th Annual Arizona Rural Transportation Summit.

RTAC's Executive Board features a number of Arizona's County Supervisors, including:

  • Supervisor Paul David (Graham), as RTAC's Chairman and the representative from the Southeast Arizona Government's Organization (SEAGO).
  • Supervisor Jeronimo Vasquez (Coconino), as the alternate representative from MetroPlan Greater Flagstaff.
  • Supervisor Mary Mallory (Yavapai), as the representative from the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG).
  • Supervisor Alton Shepherd (Apache), as the alternate representative from NACOG.
  • Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter (Mohave), as the representative from the Western Arizona Council of Governments (WACOG).
  • Supervisor Duce Minor, (La Paz) as the alternate representative from WACOG.

The Summit, a productive and info-packed event featuring transportation stakeholders from across the state and the country, included a number of critical takeaways.

  • First, in an attempt to guard against rising prices after the signing of a contract, David Martin with the Arizona chapter of the Association of General Contractors introduced an idea that would install a 15% buffer - covering both inflation of a contract and deflation of prices - to be added to construction contracts. As he described it, this flexibility would help prevent the contractor (in times of rapid post- contract inflation) and the payor (in times of rapid post-contract deflation) from seeing unexpected costs.
  • Second, James Carusone with Eco Material Technologies - appearing in his capacity as a board member of the Arizona Rock Products Association - forecast price increases in the aggregates sector. To hear him describe it, these price increases are due to a) easy-to-find aggregate already being mined, b) the costs associated with lengthy permitting timeframes, and c) the costs necessary to modernize and "green" operations.
  • Third, Kristine Ward - a Deputy Director with the Arizona Department of Transportation - gave a revenue outlook for ADOT. As many Supervisors know, the gas tax - one of the primary inputs into the Highway User Revenue Fund - is seeing less and less purchasing power due to a) inflation (as the tax has not been adjusted for decades), b) gas-powered cars becoming more fuel-efficient, and c) the market shifting towards electric vehicles (which do not pay into the gas tax).
  • Fourth, Kevin Adam - RTAC's Legislative Liaison - previewed the legislative environment, noting that the state's projected budget deficit would make RTAC's annual ask that the Legislature fund a variety of transportation projects - which has seen incredible success over the last several years - that much more difficult. RTAC will still proceed with their annual ask, which will include around $400 million in projects.
  • Fifth, we saw members of RTAC's Executive Board - including Supervisor David (Graham), Supervisor Vasquez (Coconino), Supervisor Mallory (Yavapai), Supervisor Miller (Pinal), and Supervisor Minor (La Paz), talk about their region priorities. These span from the creation of an overpass in Flagstaff - which seeks to bypass the train that runs through the City - to the rehabilitation of Vicksburg Road.
  • Sixth, we were able to hear about the upcoming Legislative Session from Senator Frank Carroll, Senator Rosanna Gabaldon, Representative David Cook, and Representative Theresa Martinez. Despite conclusions from many at the conference that the state's gas tax diving in purchasing power necessitated an increase, Rep. Cook - who is also Chairman of the House's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee - dismissed that possibility outright. He seemed much more interested in establishing tax parity between gas-powered and electric vehicles. Later, Representative Neal Carter referenced that - when contemplating new taxation - lawmakers were likely to take the recent close failure of Pinal County's RTA (in 2022) and the failure of a statewide sales tax for fire districts (also in 2022) as a sign that the public wants more fiscal responsibility.
  • Seventh, we heard from representatives of the two existing half-cent excise taxes for transportation - Maricopa County's Supervisor Jack Sellers and Pima County's Ted Maxwell - about how their efforts to go to the ballot are proceeding. We also heard from Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland, about when Pinal County will put their half-cent tax for maintenance - as well as their half-cent excise tax - on the ballot.