Karin's Note: Thursday, April 25, 2013

-Karin’s Note

-Ward 3 Events

-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)

-Citywide Events

-Did You Know?

 

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Dear Tucsonans,

Our budget deliberations continue, and we’ve achieved some benchmarks important to note:

We have implemented steps to improve the solvency of the Tucson Supplemental Retirement System
We have several revenue sources now dedicated to funding our self insurance and risk fund (tort liability reimbursements through the secondary property tax and dedication of funds received from legal settlements/claims)
We have grown our reserves even during the economic downturn (many cities depleted their rainy day funds entirely)
We operate now with approximately 4,940 employees, down from 6040 employees in 2005/06 (while sustaining the numbers of commissioned public safety officers per 1,000 residents at 2005/06 levels)

We could not have achieved all this without significant community and employee support. Now that we have begun to turn the corner and see our revenues increasing, we owe it to our community and our employees to take the long view and recognize their contributions during those toughest years.

That requires balancing the annual FY2014 budget AND looking ten years out at what investments will be sustainable and make sense. I believe City employees deserve modest compensation adjustments after years of furloughs and increasing workloads. On Tuesday there was a motion to cut transit services, resulting in a 4.5-5% reduction in bus ridership, as a “tradeoff” to fund $2M worth of employee raises this year. I did not support that move for a lot of reasons

In addition to funding already identified within our budget spreadsheets, management identified some funds not yet formally programmed into our FY2014 budget. The pending Auto Mall and other annexations plus the probable sales tax revenue growth beyond the 4.5% growth conservatively projected in the budget will, combined, likely yield at least an additional $5M per year. New developments throughout the urban core and City will also boost revenues.
As reported in the Arizona Daily Star on Sunday, a key challenge we must tackle for economic growth will be attracting/retaining young professionals in our community. As stated by Mike Holmes of Imagine Greater Tucson, “They don’t like to drive and want the ability to walk, bicycle or have modern public transportation”.  In addition, the Express Bus Route eliminated in this proposal would have been the Houghton to Downtown Route on Broadway-- the very corridor we agree is a designated transit corridor --which may not require radical widening for car traffic. In addition many, many people already rely on transit for affordable mobility to work, medical appointments, shopping, family and friends.

Cutting transit (a key element for robust infill and economic growth) ought to be a last resort, considered only after we have taken other key steps to reduce debt service and operations/maintenance pressures on our General Fund. I am advocating that we stop issuing Certificates of Participation debt (interest charges paid out of the General Fund) and rework our long term Capital Improvement program in order to return existing infrastructure to excellent condition rather than building or acquiring new facilities/land. We can’t conduct business as usual, extending new COPS borrowing every time some of our existing borrowing has been paid off (thereby sustaining a constant pressure on the General Fund). Already in Ward 3 we have returned the Neighborhood Center in Old Pascua to management through the San Ignacio Tribal Council (saving the City $90,000/year) and removed a planned new recreation center from the County Bond package (saving at least $100,000/year in future O&M costs). Especially in the Parks and Recreation Department, we can and must collaborate with school districts and the County to stop building, and start serving the public more collaboratively.

It’s high time that Mayor and Council frontload priorities in the budget process rather than having management team corner us with such conservative projections, only to approach us at the end of the fiscal year with a management-generated list of spending priorities as we—again---land in the black. We all recognize long-term challenges and we have to make tough choices. Those choices should be made now, in accordance with Mayor and Council’s best judgment on priorities for Tucson. That, of course, is made very hard when management messaging continues to be “you better pick between transit and employee compensation”. No doubt we need cuts and targeted spending in our plans. I say we pick between smart and strategic investment VS business as usual to get there.

Crafting the budget remains a Mayor and Council duty under the City Charter; management plays a key part in providing us with full information and then implementing the direction given. Right now our HR Director recommendations differ from those of our Finance Director. I agree with HR that compensation problems must be addressed, and that modest adjustments in line with those being made by surrounding jurisdictions ought to be funded.

 Additional factors were cleared through our dialogue yesterday that will help economic growth. We have been able to restore funding to the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau to 33% of bed taxes collected. We will also sustain workforce development funding at $600,000 (acquiring skills that match higher wage, available jobs is a key to economic growth and reducing poverty).

While areas of disagreement always get the most attention, overall we have reached consensus on the majority of factors included within our draft $1.269 billion dollar annual budget. I believe the Mayor and Council will find the best balance for the coming year and the coming decade.

Cyclovia

I am excited to be launching the April 28th Cyclovia event at 10am in La Madera Park! The route crossed through Ward 3 and promises to offer family friendly and health affirming fun for everyone. I hope to see you there (details below).

Have a great weekend,

Karin

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Ward 3 Events:

-National Prescription Take Back Day – Saturday, April 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Westside Police Service Center, 1310 W. Miracle Mile. Bring in your unused or expire prescription medications for disposal. More info: Kara Curtis at 837-7241 or kara.curtis@tucsonaz.gov

- Cyclovia Tucson in Ward 3 – Sunday, April 28th from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p. in and around Ward 3!  Cyclovia gives people from the greater Tucson region the chance to enjoy great weather, see neighbors, friends and people from throughout the area, and get a little exercise – all on city streets that will be closed to car traffic and open to walkers, joggers, cyclists, skaters and all other forms of people-powered movement. This new route will, for the first time ever, connect central Tucson neighborhoods and business districts including Keeling, Hedrick Acres, Samos, the Campbell Avenue Business District, La Madera and Cabrini and more before delivering participants to the Pima County Loop multi-use path at Dodge Boulevard and Brandi Fenton Park.  For more information, and to get a map of the route go to the following link:  http://www.cycloviatucson.org/events/april-28th/

-Amphi Community Action Group Spring Movie Night – Friday, May 3 at 6:30 p.m. (movie starts at sundown). Navajo Park (‘Amphi Park’) at 510 E. Navajo Road.  This is a FREE event for all ages. Bring a blanket or chair to sit on. More info: 520-297-0702.

- Neon Mile - 6th Annual Historic Miracle Mile Open House and Tour  - May 10 starting at 5:30 p.m. at Monterey Court Studio Galleries and Café at 505 W. Miracle Mile.  In its 6th year, the event will highlight the historic significance of the area with particular attention to the contribution of neon.  Tour the historic gardens of the Ghost Ranch Lodge, listen to presentations, take a flashlight tour of the Evergreen Mortuary, and celebrate the 1st anniversary of one of Miracle Mile’s newest gems—Monterey Courts.  For more information contact the Ward 3 office at 791-4711 or go to https://preservetucson.org/ and click on News & Events.

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Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s):

 Northwest Neighborhood Association – Wednesday, May 1 at 6:00 p.m. Donna Liggins Recreation Center, 2160 N. Sixth Avenue.

Amphi Neighborhood Association – Wednesday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m. 240 W. Navajo Road.

North University Neighborhood Association – Thursday, May 2 at 6:00 p.m. Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road.

Feldman Neighborhood Association – Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. St. Luke’s Home, 615 E. Adams.

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City Wide Events:

-Tucson Homeless Connect – Friday, April 26, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Trinity Presbyterian Church, 400 E. University Boulevard. This one-stop access to services for local homeless offers everything from haircuts to information on employment, housing, Social Security and DES benefits.

-Global Youth Service Day – Friday, April 26 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Pennington Street between Stone and Scott Avenue, an indoor venues on the ground floor of City High School at 48 Feast Pennington. Come celebrate youth and community at this 5th annual Pennington Street Block Party. Global Youth Service Day is a family-friendly event in the heart of Downtown Tucson and includes music, teaching demonstrations, plays, art exhibits and carnival games.

-Canine Walk for K-9 Cops – Saturday, April 27, 7:30 – 11:00 a.m. Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, 3482 E. River Road. This one-mile dog walk and breakfast benefits the K-9 Units effort to upgrade the heat monitors in the K-9 Unit vehicles. $20 per dog and walker, and includes breakfast. $10 for each additional dogs, $5 for just breakfast. Sponsored by the Tucson Police Department K-9 Unit. More info: 207-2878.

-3rd Annual Firefighter’s Ball – Saturday, May 4 at 5:00 p.m (silent auction, dinner at 7:00 p.m.). JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, 3800 W. Starr Pass Boulevard. All proceeds benefit Tucson Firefighter’s Charities. Information and tickets: 907-4932 or tfdmedicman@aol.com

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 -Did you know…?

…that Pima Community College is hosting a “Future Foster Family Fair” on Saturday, April 27? From 1:00-4:30pm at the Downtown Campus (1255 N. Stone/Speedway) exhibitors from various agencies will provide information on children needing temporary homes. Food, speakers, live music, games for children.

…that the Splash Pad at the Marty Birdman Center opens Saturday, April 27.  Opened for the first time last summer, the Splash pad offers a place for cooling off and having fun as our desert starts to heat up.  Come join the fun at 2536 N. Balboa from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during normal Park hours.