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Karin's Note: Friday, May 18, 2012

Karin's Note:  May 18, 2012

-Bat Night Returns Saturday!

-Third Saturday Art Fair

-Spring Arts and Crafts Fair

-Jacobs and Mansfield Pools Hold Re-Opening Parties

-Pro Neighborhoods Hosts Workshop

-Did you know....

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Dear Tucsonans,

There are a few key items of interest I want to highlight for you.

Economic Development Incentives Process

I am pleased that the Mayor/Council will be considering the approach that I and several of my colleagues have long advocated for, to open up economic development incentives. On Tuesday we will discuss a process that all project developers will follow to express interest in public-private partnership and to submit their initial concept plans for consideration. Once projects have been reviewed we will decide which if any can proceed to a more intensive level of evaluation.

This open and level framework will insure that we don’t prematurely pick winners and losers and that we don’t expend City time or money on any project without the same opportunity being given to all potential, competing proposals. This step, along with the standardized development agreement format we’ve adopted, will help prevent a repeat of mistakes made in the past. It’s an approach I’ve been fighting to put in place for several years, and one I am pleased to see formalized to safeguard our future.

Budget

Mayor/Council adopted a tentative budget which will be finalized in early June. We modified the City Manager’s original budget in a few key areas:

  • We allocated $20 million vs $2 million for street repairs. We will also be holding a Public Hearing for input on the possibility of placing a street repair bond question on the 2012 election ballot.
  • We did not raise bus fares. We gave direction to identify savings in the transit budget for this and coming years through the use of more fuel efficient vehicles and better management of liability/insurance costs. Fare revenues can and should increase by increasing ridership over time.
  • We gave direction for the Golf Enterprise to break even within the next two years and for a financial plan that will reimburse the General Fund for the $6-7 million utilized over recent years (without expressed Mayor/Council approval)  to balance the Golf budget.
  • We approved the proposed 1% COLA for City employees. We gave direction to the Manager to work over the coming year with us to amend the compensation plan so we can better target future adjustments toward lower-paid positions/workers.

Moving forward we plan to keep our focus on the core services identified in our City Charter: public safety, transportation (streets/transit), and parks and recreation. For more information on the current budget proposal (including our utility enterprises Water and Environmental Services) follow this link to the budget on the City website at http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/budget/  

Copper Theft

I placed Copper Theft on our Tuesday Study Session for an update on how the City plans to reduce these thefts and the high costs associated (loss of money, loss of lights and other services, etc.). Just as we recently intensified the City’s work against graffiti, we need to be proactive to stop this form of vandalism and theft.

Urban Planning

After the divisions caused by the Main Gate Overlay process, and resulting concerns about the land use planning for the Grant Road Corridor, I am hearing some good ideas for how we can move forward together to properly plan and implement infill. As I have said before, I have no doubt we share the goal of inspiring quality infill and investment in Tucson. Given that we should be able to work together to make it happen.

At the Mayor and Council meeting last week, I requested that the planning contract for the new street car line include a provision to require coordination with the other land use planning efforts in the urban core (e.g. Grant Road Corridor). Ideally we can start by identifying the specific infill goals for the greater downtown/University area and then plot a course for locating appropriate density. How many units and what types of housing will be needed in the coming decades in the central City? How many additional square feet of commercial and/or industrial space will be needed? And given those specific objectives, where can and should that new development take place?

A “30,000 foot view” can answer so much of the concern and resistance sparked to date. And yet so far no one has been able to answer such simple questions as the number of: student units still needed to be built (remember we already have several thousand new units already built or approved and on the drawing board); the other types of housing that will be in demand for University graduates, faculty, staff; government employees and those who will be working at the new Bridges site at I-10. Similar questions arise regarding retail/commercial/industrial demand. Once we know what we’re aiming for and we’ve identified best sections/areas for receiving density, I strongly believe conflict will give way to cooperation.

We have the planning resources in hand. We have diverse and well-informed people willing to engage (historians, developers, residents, architects, builders, and many more). We have planning experts hired and others ready to assist. Let’s put these resources to good use and prevent more harmful turmoil and delay.

I welcome your thoughts on these topics or other issues of concern to you. Hope to see you out and about this weekend at some of the great happenings noted below!

Thanks,

Karin

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Ward 3 Events:

-Bat Night Returns May 19thBack by popular demand, the Rillito River Project hosts the 5th Annual Bat Night, this time in the spring to mark the arrival of our nocturnal neighbors for their summer stay in Tucson. Free and open to the public.

Welcome the Bats to Tucson Saturday, May 19th at 6:00 p.m. at the Rillito River, just east of the Campbell Avenue Bridge. This year, 140 students from Rio Vista Elementary School, led by nationally acclaimed choreographer Barbea Williams, will entertain the crowd with their very own Bat Dance… and teach us the Bat Dance too!  At sunset, watch 45,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats fly out from under the Campbell Avenue Bridge to forage for food—600 lbs. of mosquitoes! Be a part of this growing Tucson tradition, the marquee event of the nonprofit Rillito River Project, dedicated to raising awareness of local environmental and ecological issues through art, performance, lectures and special events.  For more info visit www.rillitoriverproject.org

Fun fact #1: These 45,000 Mexican Free-Tailed Bats that just arrived in Tucson for the summer are all females, and they're mostly all pregnant.

Fun fact #2: They did not arrive here pregnant. Rather, they carried the sperm with them from Mexico and only once here, allow the sperm and the egg to meet. Therefore, they're all going to have their little baby bats, called "pinkies," roughly at the same time.

-Third Saturday Art Fair – Saturday, May 19, from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Many Hands Courtyard, 3054 N. First Avenue. Join this collective group of artists for an evening of music, original artwork, Eegee’s and twinkling lights. More info: 628-1490.

-Spring Arts and Crafts Fair – Saturday, May 26th , 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Water of Life Metropolitan Community Church, 3269 North Mountain Avenue. Unique items, food court, free raffles. More info: 879-6800.

Jacobs and Mansfield Pools Hold Re-Opening Parties– Jacobs Pool: Friday, June 1, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Free barbeque and activities for children. 1010 W. Lind Street. Sponsored in part by the Catalina Rotary Tucson. Mansfield Pool: Saturday, June 2, Noon to 5:00 p.m. Free hot dogs, drinks and games. 2000 N. 4th Avenue. Sponsored in part by the Mansfield Park Neighbors Coalition. More info: Cheryl at 837-4231.

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City Wide Events:

-Pro Neighborhoods Workshop – Wednesday, May 23, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Ward 6 Conference Room, 3202 E. 1st Street. “Making Things Happen With What We Already Have” invites neighbors to learn how community groups can identify the talents, skills and knowledge of residents to improve the condition of the neighborhoods. More info: janderhat@cox.net or 795-1512

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Did You Know…

that the City of Tucson is accepting applications for home repair funds? Homeowners within the city limits needing roof repairs, heating and cooling system replacements and structural, utility or certain repairs may apply for a grant and/or deferred loan ranging from $7,500 to $12,000. Applications for the Fiscal Year 2012-2014 Tucson Annual Residential Rehabilitation (TARR) Program will be taken via a lottery system to ensure that everyone submitting an application during the application period (5/16/12 through 6/30/12) has an equal opportunity for placement on the list. Applicants must be owner of the property and reside in it as primary residence. Income limits apply and the property must be free of delinquent liens. Call 837-5336 to receive an application by mail. Applications also online at:  www.tucsonaz.gov/fixhouse

that Pima Council on Aging (PCOA) has a Senior Program at the Donna Liggins Center, 2160 N. 6th Avenue? Nutrition Programs, Fitness, Arts and Crafts? To register call PCOA at 790-7262.

…that Catalina Rotary Tucson is the first sponsor to step forward in support of opening City pools for the summer with their pledge of $25,000 to open Jacobs Pool?  If you’d like to support Catalina Rotary’s effort to make that happen, you can purchase $5 raffle tickets--winner will receive a $500 gas card. More information is available at the Ward 3 Council at 791-4711.

…that Council Member Karin Uhlich is once again hosting a “Trim Your Energy Wasteline Workshop?” This is a free, 2 hour energy conservation workshop for homeowners sponsored by Tucson Electric Power, City of Tucson Ward 3 Council Office, and the Metropolitan Energy Commission. Next Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, June 9 at 2:00 p.m. at the Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road. Space is limited so if you’d like to reserve a seat and learn how to reduce your energy bills, call Cheryl Rodgers in the Ward 3 office at 837-4231. Free gifts and light refreshments will be offered to all participants.