Taxpayers sued the county board of supervisors for leasing property to a developer without submitting it to the competitive bidding process required by A.R.S. § 11-256. The county argued that it had determined that the lease would assist in the creation of jobs or otherwise improve the economic welfare of the county and had thus leased the property pursuant to its economic development authority, granted by A.R.S. §11-254.04. The superior court held that the two statutes did not conflict and that the board of supervisors must engage in a competitive bidding process before leasing property pursuant to its economic development authority. It therefore entered judgment in favor of the taxpayers.
The Court of Appeals reversed and vacated the judgment, holding that the county need not comply with the competitive bidding process when leasing property pursuant to its economic development authority. The Court found that the purpose of the economic development statute was to lease property at below-market rates to induce economic development, and that requiring a competitive bid process would effectively eliminate the county’s ability to negotiate directly with developers to effect that goal.
Judge Eckerstrom delivered the unanimous opinion, in which Judges Vásquez and Eppich joined.
Posted by: Randy McDonald