MAYOR AND COUNCIL PRESENTED WITH BUDGET FORECAST FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR - Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda and his budget staff yesterday told Mayor and Council the City faces a $33.2 million dollar shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015, if current conditions and policies remain the same. Since it's still early in the budget process, Miranda didn't offer details on where cuts would need to be made, but he said City staff has evaluated 174 City programs and services to determine how critical they are and how much they can be cut. He said some City programs have become outdated or inefficient. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star and view the PowerPoint of the budget presentation.
GEM SHOW VENDORS SAY BUSINESS IS STEADY - Many vendors at the Tucson, Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase say they are happy with the pace of sales. The shows are being held at various locations, through Feb. 16. Visit Tucson estimates the shows pump about $100 million into Tucson's economy. GemRide shuttles offer free rides between shows from 33 locations. Parking is available at six City of Tucson parking garages and surface lots in Downtown Tucson. Read more from Tucson News Now.
Tucson Gem and Mineral Society
SILVER ALERT COULD COME TO ARIZONA - In a variation of Amber Alerts for missing children, Arizona soon could join 15 other states in developing a system for missing vulnerable adults. The Arizona Senate passed a bill to create a Silver Alert system, sending the bill to the Arizona House. If the House approves the measure, it would go to Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature. read more from KGUN and Tucson News Now.
STUDY SHOWS LIFE EXPECTANCY IN UNITED STATES DEPENDS ON STATE - A mapping of state data shows a varying degree of life expectancy, depending on where you live. A report in The Atlantic shows the average age of death in Arizona is 79.6, matching statistics from Chile. The report breaks down each state and compares it to different countries. On average, American life expectancy is roughly 79.8 years. The United States ranks 35th in the world, nestled between Costa Rica and Chile. There’s profound variation by state, from a low of 75 years in Mississippi to a high of 81.3 in Hawaii. Possible factors cited in the disparity include diet, environment, medical care, education and access to doctors and healthy food.
NEED HELP STARTING OR EXPANDING A BUSINESS IN TUCSON? CALL THE SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE LINE - The City of Tucson's Small Business Assistance Line, (520) 837-4100, is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Help is available in both English and Spanish. Staff from the City Manager's Office of Economic Initiatives answer the calls. The Small Business Assistance Line is one of a number of City initiatives, along with 21 new business incentives, streamlined permit processes and more, to make the City of Tucson more business-friendly.
DEMION CLINCO IS NEWEST MEMBER OF ARIZONA HOUSE - The Pima County Supervisors today appointed Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation President Demion Clinco to replace Andrea Dalessandro in the Arizona House. Clinco and Dalessandro are both Democrats. The 3-2 vote to appoint Clinco fills the Legislative District 2 House seat vacated by Dalessandro, who was appointed by the board to replace Linda Lopez in the Arizona Senate. Lopez resigned last month, saying she needed to focus on her new job as director of Children and Family Services for the Easter Seals Blake Foundation. Read more from Arizona Public Media.
FOURTH STREETCAR ARRIVES IN TUCSON - The City of Tucson this morning received its fourth streetcar, leaving four more to complete the fleet. The fourth car will undergo static testing at the Sun Link Operations and Maintenance Facility before testing on the street. Streetcar fare service is expected to begin this summer. The Downtown Tucson Partnership reports the $200 million American-made streetcar project already has helped generate $800 million in public and private investment along the route, through downtown and the University of Arizona. Read more from KVOA and Sun Link Streetcar.
PRIMAVERA WORKS HIRING HOMELESS FOR TRASH PICKUP DOWNTOWN - Some of Tucson's homeless are being offered temporary jobs to pick up trash during the two weeks of the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase. Primavera Works is offering $8 an hour for up to 12 workers each day from local shelters to pick up trash in the downtown area. Read more from KOLD/KMSB.
BIKE CHURCH SANCTUARY GETS ENHANCEMENTS - New additions to the Bike Church have turned it into a sanctuary with brick pavers. Jean and Jim Gorman, whose son, Brad Gorman, was killed by a motorist while he was riding a bike in 1999, helped fund the enhancements. Tucson 12 was at the recent re-dedication of the Bike Church and produced this video.
ADOPT A SAGUARO PROGRAM FUNDS CONSERVATION - The group Friends of Catalina State Park started the Adopt a Saguaro program about a week ago, using the donated funds for park improvements, such as adding a new ramada in the group area and installing roofs on shelters in the horse corrals. As part of the program, people may choose to "adopt" a saguaro at a variety of levels - ranging from a basic one-year adoption for $25, to a 25-year adoption of an old or unusual “granddaddy saguaro” for $3,000. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
VOTER-APPROVED ROAD REPAIR WORK CONTINUES - Southern Arizona Paving and Construction Co., under contract with the City of Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT), is continuing its road repair program associated with the voter-approved $100 million, five-year street bond program. Today, through Feb. 14, crews will be working on Speedway Boulevard, from Wilmot Road to Kolb Road. The work will take place from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Travel lane restrictions will be in place during the work period. However at least two lanes of travel will be maintained in both directions. Read the news release from Tucson Department of Transportation. Learn more about the City of Tucson's Road Recovery Bond Program.
PIMA COUNTY INCREASES PROPERTY VALUES FOR TAX PURPOSES TO MANY - Property valuation notices mailed last week by the Pima County Assessor's Office generally show increases for property owners - some even seeing double-digit jumps. An increase in valuations means an increase in property taxes paid by the property owner unless Pima County property tax rates are reduced an equivalent amount. An Assessor’s Office analysis of median valuations by area shows that South Tucson and properties near Tucson International Airport saw the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, and Midvale/Drexel Heights area valuations were up by 18 percent. The increases in valuations won't be reflected in tax bills until 2015, but a 2012 voter-approved change in state law dealing with how property taxes are assessed limits tax increases to 3 percent. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
MESA MAYOR CALLS FOR INNOVATION BY CITIES - Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, says cities must pursue innovation in order to support job creation, improve education, lift people out of poverty, and invest in the future. Addressing the Winter Meeting of the Conference of Mayors last month, Smith told his colleagues that the 363 metro economies of the United States contribute more than 90 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic product and account for 86 percent of American jobs. He said that's cause for further investment in America’s cities, particularly in terms of infrastructure. “The innovations that drive this country begin with cities and begin with mayors," he said. Read more from U.S. Mayor.
REPORT: ARIZONA PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSION SYSTEMS GAINING STABILITY - A bipartisan think tank study says Arizona’s public pension systems for state employees, public safety personnel and corrections officers are on a path toward financial stability. The study from the Grand Canyon Institute shows changes enacted in 2011 have limited the growth of future liabilities, despite a current funding gap of $14.5 billion. The changes included changing minimum retirement ages based on years of service, while also increasing employee contributions into the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System. The changes apply to those hired after July 1, 2011. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
MEXICAN GRAY WOLF POPULATION ON THE RISE - The Southwest’s endangered Mexican gray wolves continued a four-year expansion in numbers last year, growing from 75 to 83, State and Federal officials announced Friday. There now are 37 wolves in the forests of eastern Arizona and 46 in New Mexico. The population has nearly doubled since 2009. The Mexican gray wolf recovery program started in 1998 with re-introductions from a few captive-bred wolves. Read more from the Arizona Republic
ARIZONA LAWMAKERS APPROVE $6.8 MILLION FOR CHILD PROTECTION - State lawmakers yesterday gave final approval to $6.8 million in additional funds for the state’s new child welfare agency. The measure requires a signature from Gov. Jan Brewer, who has advocated for the increased spending to fund the hiring of additional caseworkers. The legislation adds funding to the budget of the Division of Child Safety and Family Services, the new agency created earlier this month by the governor’s executive order. The agency will absorb much of what was in the troubled Child Protective Services division of the Department of Economic Security. Read more from Capitol Media Services via the Arizona Daily Star.
TUCSON POLICE OFFICERS GET NEW TRAUMA KITS - About 600 officers and sergeants in the Tucson Police Department (TPD) have been trained to use the new emergency kits, which aim to bridge the gap before medical help arrives from the Tucson Fire Department. The kits cost the department $39,000 and the department qualified for a military surplus program to help equip the kits with additional medical supplies for free, said Lt. Eric Kazmierczak of Operations Division South. The kits contain items such as special wound packing gauzes, a tourniquet, pressure dressings to treat severe wounds, a large bandage to cover abdominal wounds, and an airtight sticker that seals holes in the chest cavity. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
TRAFFIC ALERT: UTILITY WORK ON AVIATION HIGHWAY THIS WEEKEND - The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will have intermittent closures on Barraza-Aviation Parkway (State Route 210), just west of Kino Parkway (milepost 2.08), from 6 a.m. to noon Sunday. Traffic will be stopped in 15 minute intervals during the work.
GOV. BREWER GETTING READY FOR NEXT YEAR'S SUPER BOWL - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is in New York City for Super Bowl weekend and a ceremonial hand-off for next year's big game in Glendale. Brewer's spokesman Andrew Wilder says the governor is promoting Arizona (and its warm temperatures) on the trip and will meet tomorrow with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Read more from KGUN.
REPORTE EL GRAFFITI DE SU VECINDARIO - Si usted ve el graffiti de su vecindario. Llame al (520) 792-2489 o envíe un correo electrónico a email@example.com. Además puede utilizar la aplicación MyTucson y seleccionar SeeClickFix en cualquier teléfono iOS o Android.
SERVICE ALERT: TUCSON WATER PAY-BY-PHONE UNAVAILABLE SATURDAY - Electricity to Tucson Water’s main office downtown will be interrupted on Saturday, Feb. 1, resulting in a phone outage. Because of the scheduled work, the main Customer Service phone lines at (520) 791-3242 and (800) 598-9449 will not be available to access the utility’s pay-by-phone system. Callers likely will hear a busy signal. However, the public will be able to access the utility’s website and send e-mails, because servers for those are housed in another location. The pay-by-phone system is expected to be back online Sunday.
ARIZONA GAINS NATIONAL ATTENTION FOR GOVERNOR'S DECISION TO ABOLISH CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES - Using an executive order, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer abolished Child Protective Services earlier this month, in hopes of creating an independent agency that reports directly to her - something only 10 other states have done. The Arizona Legislature will have the final say on creating the new agency. Meanwhile, Brewer created the Division of Child Safety and Family Services in her cabinet and appointed Charles Flanagan as the new director. Flanagan previously was in charge of Arizona's Department of Juvenile Corrections. Governing Magazine recently spoke with Flanagan about the Governor's plan.
PIMA ANIMAL CARE CENTER (PACC) WANTS TO 'EMPTY THE SHELTER' - PACC is competing against 49 other shelters across the country, hoping to win $100,000 in the 2014 ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. The money would be used to help adopt pets and reduce the shelter population. So far this fiscal year, the adoption rate is 75 percent, up from 55 percent two years ago. Challenge winners will be announced on or before Oct. 7, 2014. Read the Pima County news release.
HOW TO REPORT TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS - Is there a pothole you'd like to see fixed? Is a street sign missing? Is a tree limb hanging too close over a roadway or sidewalk? You can report these issues to the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT), (520) 791-3154, or email the exact location to firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can use the SeeClickFix website and app.
SeeClickFix app for Android: http://bit.ly/1fpHIyF
SeeClickFix app for iOS: http://bit.ly/19frEkG
JOB OPPORTUNITY: POLICE OFFICER RECRUIT - The Tucson Police Department is looking for candidates to become police officers. Successful applicants will be considered for any funded academy class(es) within the next six months. The earliest academy that will be filled from the list is July 2014. Application deadline is Feb. 2, 2014. View the job listing.
GEM SHOW VISTORS AND VENDORS ARRIVING IN TUCSON - For the next two weeks, about 55,000 visitors and vendors will be in Tucson to participate in the 2014 Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase. This is the 60th year of the annual event, which has about $100 million in local economic impact. The Gem Show actually is 41 shows in hotels, tents, and exhibit halls around Tucson. GemRide shuttles offer free rides between shows from 33 locations. Parking is available at six City of Tucson parking garages and surface lots in Downtown Tucson.
Downtown Tucson Partnership
Tucson Gem and Mineral Society
WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL MEDIA 'OPEN HOUSE' TODAY - The Obama administration is taking to social media today for a day long "open house" to answer questions after last night's State of the Union address. Anyone can tweet a question using the hashtag #AsktheWH. Later this week, President Obama is taking a virtual roadtrip across the country via Google+ Hangouts to discuss the speech with citizens around the country. People can ask questions now with #POTUSRoadTrip, and watch live on Friday.
KIDICAL MASS SATURDAY - Kidical Mass is a safe, fun bike ride for kids and adults. The family-friendly rides take people through the city to highlight routes that connect different parts of our community. All types of bicycles are welcome and those under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. Coordinated through Living Streets Alliance, the event begins Saturday at 10 a.m. at the John C. Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson, 1550 S. 6th Ave. The bike rides first started in Eugene, Oregon in 2008 and now take place in more than a dozen cities.
SIERRA VISTA-BASED DRONE CRASHED NEAR SAN DIEGO - U.S. Customs and Border Protection say they deliberately crashed an unmanned plane Tuesday near San Diego. The drone, from Libby Army Airfield in Sierra Vista, went down about 20 miles off shore after it developed mechanical problems and wasn't able to return to Sierra Vista, authorities told KGTV in San Diego. This drone was a maritime version of the "Predator B," which is worth almost 12 million dollars. Eight years ago, a similar Predator crashed about 20 miles south of Tubac. Read more from KGTV via KGUN.
JOB OPPORTUNITY: ZOOKEEPER - Tucson's Reid Park Zoo wants to hire three energetic keepers to join their team. The desired candidates should have previous zoo keeping experience and the willingness to invest the time needed to learn specifics of how to care for elephants. The application deadline is Feb. 12, 2014. View the job posting.
PRESIDENT TO DELIVER STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS TONIGHT - President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address at 7 p.m. and he's expected to discuss raising the minimum wage, developing worker skills, college affordability, high-tech manufacturing, housing, retirement security and other issues. Federal issues important to the Tucson Mayor & Council include immigration reform, housing, transportation, nutrition programs and postal reform.
CITY OF TUCSON SEEKS GRANT TO PROTECT BICYCLES FROM VEHICLES - Tucson officials hope the City is one of six cities selected for the People for Bikes' Green Lane Project, which would allow our community to receive technical and financial support to build protected bicycle infrastructure. A protected bike lane separates bicycles and motor vehicles using a physical barrier. City of Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager Ann Chanecka says one of the first protected bike lanes the City wants to implement is on Church Avenue, from Sixth Street/St. Mary’s to Cushing Street. The Green Lane Project award winners will be announced in March. Read more from Tucson Velo.
TUCSON TO GET NEW AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER - The Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) expects to break ground in March on a new air traffic control tower to replace the current tower that was built in the 1950s. The Federal Aviation Administration is on course to issue a construction contract this spring for the federally funded, $43 million tower, according to President and CEO Bonnie Allin. Construction is expected to take about two years. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
MICHIGAN GOVERNOR WANTS IMMIGRANTS TO MOVE TO DETROIT TO HELP FILL EXODUS OF RESIDENTS - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced plans to seek federal help in bringing 50,000 immigrants to the bankrupt city over five years, as part of a visa program aimed at those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in science, business or the arts. "Isn't that how we made our country great, through immigrants?" said Mr. Snyder, a Republican. Under the plan, which is expected to be formally submitted to federal authorities soon, immigrants would be required to live and work in Detroit, a city that has fallen to 700,000 residents from 1.8 million in the 1950s. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other city leaders say they support the plan. Read more from the New York Times.
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT GIVING AWAY COMPOST BINS IN CONTEST - Tucson-area schools with gardens and other community gardens have a chance to win one of four compost bins through the Do More Blue Tucson Facebook page. The Environmental Services Department is sponsoring a Facebook photo contest, to be decided by public vote. Entrants should submit the photo which best represents the garden. Photos will be displayed for voting until Feb. 14th. View the contest details at Do More Blue Facebook page.
CITY MANAGER CALLS STREETCAR 'LINK TO THE FUTURE' - Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda says construction of the Sun Link Modern Streetcar is largely complete and is the largest construction project in Tucson's history. In his monthly letter to City employees, Miranda says the work of employees, contractors, area business owners, residents and the University of Arizona has been key to ensuring the streetcar's future success. The Downtown Tucson Partnership reports the $200 million American-made streetcar project already has helped generate $800 million in public and private investment along the route, through downtown and the UA.
GEM SHOW NEEDS VOLUNTEER 'DOWNTOWN AMBASSADORS' - The Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is one of the largest events that takes place in Tucson each year, and it takes hundreds of volunteers to make it all happen. The Downtown Tucson Partnership is recruiting "Downtown Ambassadors" to help visitors find their way around and make them feel welcome. Visit Tucson estimates up to $100 million is pumped into the local economy, as about 55,000 visitors come to the shows every year. This year's shows run from Feb. 1 - 16. Read more from KVOA and Visit Tucson. Volunteer by sending an email to email@example.com.
FESTIVAL DE LA CANCIÓN EN EL DESIERTO DE TUCSON JAN. 30 - FEB. 16 - Los lugares más artisticos de la ciudad de Tucson seran los scenarios para el Festival de la Canción del Desierto de Tucson, que se llevará a cabo del 30 de enero al 16 de febrero. Durante estos tres fines de semana podremos deleitarnos de las voces de los solistos, conferencias y clases para los entusiastas de la música.
Tucson Desert Song Festival
Vamos a Tucson
REPAIR WORK UNDERWAY AT SITE OF BURNED BUILDINGS DOWNTOWN - About a year after a fire burned portions of a three-section building at the southeast corner of East Congress Street and South Scott Avenue, crews are working to repair the building. City Planning and Development Director Ernie Duarte says boards and fences were installed around the building to keep it secure while it is being restored. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
LOVE TUCSON? THEN 'LIKE' TUCSON ON FACEBOOK - "Like" the City of Tucson on Facebook to get the latest news, community updates and fun facts about Tucson local government and our community. You can also "Follow" the City of Tucson on Twitter for timely, concise updates throughout the day.
ARIZONA LEGISLATURE'S BUDGET PROJECTIONS DIFFER FROM GOVERNOR'S - Legislative budget analysts have provided revenue projections that differ from Governor Jan Brewer's staff projections by approximately $600 million over the next three years. Richard Stavneak, staff director of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, says the Governor’s budget is built on this year’s revenues growing by 5.3 percent over last year. He says the panel of economists that prepares the legislative estimates puts that number at 4.3 percent. Read more from Capitol Media Services via the Arizona Daily Star.
FEDS TELL MAYORS TO INVEST IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT - Officials from the U.S. Labor and Commerce Departments told city leaders at a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting this week in Washington, D.C. to work with area businesses to match workers with jobs. Representatives from those departments offered sobering statistics on the nation’s unemployment problem and activities at the federal level to alleviate joblessness, while highlighting innovative programs at the city level. They say many businesses need to raise wages, but government also needs to reassess how it invests in workforce development to help people obtain the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. Read more from Governing.
ARIZONA GAINED JOBS LAST MONTH - Arizona's unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.6 percent in December. State Department of Administration economists reported yesterday that Arizona's economy added 6,900 non-farm jobs in December, with the majority in the private sector. The state's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is at its lowest rate since October 2008. A year ago, Arizona's jobless rate was 7.9 percent. Read more from KVOA.
SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK’S RESTORATION PLAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC REVIEW AND COMMENT - Saguaro National Park's plan includes action intended to restore natural vegetation and mitigate impacts to park lands from damage caused by fire, flood, invasive species, or other human causes. One of the proposals includes aerial delivery of herbicide to combat buffelgrass in areas of the park that are not reachable by ground crews. The comment period is open until February 24. Read the plan and visit the public comment website.
HOW TO MANAGE HARD WATER AND OTHER TIPS FROM TUCSON WATER - Get tips on how to manage hard water, increase dishwasher efficiency, flush your water heater, check faucet aerators and more. Information is available in English and Spanish. You can download, print, or request a mailed copy of the tips. You can also learn how to pay your water bill online and stop and start service. Visit Tucson Water for more information.
REPORT: CITY BUS SYSTEM SHOULD CONSIDER FARE OR SERVICE CHANGES - A peer review panel of transit experts from other cities says Tucson's Sun Tran bus system doesn't recover enough revenues to pay for the services it provides. One of the key findings of the report, presented at yesterday's Mayor and Council meeting, is that the City spent $16 million last year on Sun Van service for the disabled and recovered only about five percent of that amount in fares. The report also says bus fares in general don't pay enough to help fund the system. The Council was scheduled to discuss fare increases during yesterday's study session, but that discussion was tabled until Feb. 4 to allow Council Members time to study the outside report. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star and view the PowerPoint presentation.
CITY OF TUCSON DEDICATES NEW WATER TREATMENT FACILITY (VIDEO) - Tucson Water’s new Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) Water Treatment Facility helps ensure the delivery of a safe and reliable supply of water. The new facility on West Irvington Road will treat up to 8 million gallons of water per day. Watch video of the dedication from Tucson 12.
PENSION REFORMS LEADING TO EARLY RETIREMENTS IN SOME STATES - A Governing Magazine analysis of retirement data finds that pension reforms contributed to significantly more workers retiring in at least six states. More than 9,500 Oregon state employees retired last year - a 44 percent increase from 2012 - as they opted to begin drawing checks from the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) before a change that effectively trimmed retirement benefits by roughly 2 percent for a portion of long-time state and local workers retiring after Dec. 1. Similar scenarios played out elsewhere in recent years, as debate over pension reform in state legislatures sparked a corresponding spike in public employee retirements.
SCORE A DEAL ON CITY SURPLUS - Need a credit/debit card machine? How about some folding chairs? Maybe four pairs of basketball shoes will satisfy someone in your family? You can find these items and more on the City of Tucson's surplus auction website. View the items listed for bid and learn more about Tucson's Public Surplus auctions.
DILLINGER DAYS DOWNTOWN SATURDAY - This year marks the 80th anniversary of the capture of notorious outlaw John Dillinger near Tucson's historic Hotel Congress downtown. The event celebrates Tucson's Police and Fire Departments for the roles they played in the Jan. 25, 1934 arrest of the infamous gangster and bank robber once known as Public Enemy No. 1. Hotel Congress plans a number of events to commemorate Dillinger Days. The family-friendly event begins at 9 a.m. and is free.