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NewsNet 12-06-13

TUCSON FACES BUDGET SHORTFALL FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR - Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Kelly Gottschalk says the City's deficit could be at least $15 million next fiscal year, but the calculation will be more precise in a few months. “The Council is going to have to make priority decisions," she says. "We are seeing on an annual basis that our revenues are going up, but our expenses are going up faster than our revenues, so we are going to have to face challenges in Fiscal [Year] '15." Hear the interview with Arizona Public Media.

CHICAGO PURSUES DEAL TO CHANGE PENSION FUNDING - As many government entities, including Tucson, address issues related to their pension systems, Chicago is hoping from some relief, after the State of Illinois made some legislative changes. The passage Tuesday of a landmark bill trimming retirement benefits for state workers, aimed at fixing the vastly underfunded pension system, is relevant to the nation’s third-largest city, which has its own pension systems in various stages of financial problems. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says some sort of pension reform is required to preserve city services and maintain tax rates into the future.  City employee group representatives oppose these efforts, saying that retirement benefits are contractual and constitutionally-protected obligations that City of Chicago government should honor. Read the story from the New York Times.

URBAN LAND INSTITUTE (ULI) ADVISORY SERVICES PANEL DEVELOPS A ROADMAP TO THE FUTURE OF DOWNTOWN TUCSON - The ULI, an independent global nonprofit that provides leadership in real estate development and responsible land use, visited Tucson last month to provide a technical assessment for underutilized properties in Downtown Tucson. The ULI team toured the downtown area, met with many downtown and community stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, and listed some key recommendations last week. Watch the Tucson 12 video and read more about the project and review the Powerpoint presentation at http://tucsonaz.gov/uli.

TUCSON POLICE NO LONGER PROHIBITING PHOTOS OF PUBLIC RECORDS - Tucson Police will now allow citizens to take photos of public documents, reversing their policy after Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wrote a legal opinion saying public records must be available for free inspection, including permitting the use of photographs. "Throughout the city, our practices already were in line with what the AG opinion concludes," Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin tells NewsNet. "However, in one particular instance (records through TPD's Public Information Office), we were not letting people photograph the record, and instead we told them they could either inspect the record and not pay anything, or we would provide a copy and they would pay the copy cost. In light of the AG Opinion, we've given the direction to stop that practice." Read more from Capitol Media Services via the Arizona Daily Star.

HOLIDAY DECORATION SAFETY TIPS - If you're planning on hanging holiday lights this weekend, make sure to keep safety in mind. Tucson Fire Department Captain Barrett Baker says it all starts with a properly-sized ladder to hang your lights.  Learn more from KGUN9's "No Bad Days with Barrett" segment.