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The Marana Town Council unanimously increased the town sales tax on Tuesday by a half-cent per dollar to pay for a multi-generational recreation and aquatic center.

The tax increase will go into effect on Jan 1. The tax increase will stay in place until the financing, design, and construction of the project are complete. Town officials estimated that will take seven years.

Marana has used temporary sales tax increases to fund other municipal projects, including the new police headquarters at the municipal complex and the Twin Peaks overpass.

“We heard something loud and clear from our community and they felt underserved in a particular area relative to recreational facilities and aquatic centers,” said Town Manager Terry Rozema during the meeting.

The Town Parks & Recreation Master Plan 2020-2030 included a survey with community input revealing recreational preferences. The prospect of a new community center and aquatic facility was the most popular among the respondents.

Rozema said during the council meeting the center would not only provide more recreational opportunities for community members, but also spur economic development in an area Marana planners see as a developing downtown, creating more jobs and encouraging businesses to set up shop in the area.

Economic development is important for Marana’s rapidly increasing population, which has increased 4,000 percent since 1970, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority. 

“Eventually, the downtown area will be the center of our community,” Rozema said.

The community and aquatic center would be built on the northwest corner of Bill Gaudette Drive and Marana Main Street, near the Marana Road exit on Interstate 10 on land that the town already owns. The 55,000-square-foot community center would include an indoor gym, weight rooms, meeting rooms, pools, sport fields and more.

Rozema said community members expressed an interest in the tax increase raising money specifically for the proposed projects and ending after all the bills were paid.

After much discussion between councilmembers, they agreed the sunset would continue Marana’s traditions around community outreach. Anytime the town would like to increase sales taxes for a specific project, they go to community members to educate, discuss, and receive feedback.

“I don’t think that’s too much work, what’s wrong with telling our citizens what we’re doing and why?” Vice Mayor Jon Post said during the meeting.