Mr. Mayor, before I make my vote, I want to say a few words.
I want to thank the City Manager, Kelly Gottschalk, Marie Nemerguth, Sylvia Amparano, Joyce Garland and the staff of Budget Office and the staff of the Finance Department for their work on this year’s budget.
Many questions were asked and answered and tonight, the Mayor and Council are voting on a balanced budget.
This budget will have no layoffs of police or fire fighters, and that includes a COLA for all city employees, who have worked the hardest and have sacrificed through furlough days and budgetary cutbacks over the past three years.
Through my time as a Councilmember, starting in 2009, I have seen nothing but big budget deficits.
Even with that, the Mayor and Council have taken steps to erase these deficits, even while state shared revenues were being swept from Tucson by the Arizona Legislature.
I have brought proposals to the table:
Changing the Certificate of Occupancy process, to stimulate new businesses, to the tune of 71 opening their doors in Tucson.
Saving $600,000 through the vote-by-mail process for City Elections.
Initiating the effort for more usage of the City’s Procurement Card Program, which has saved more than $3-million in transaction charges and brought in $400,000 in revenues for usage.
Ending the restrictions on bus advertising, which has tripled the revenue, to now at a little more than $300,000.
Lifting the 25 year prohibition on the Parks and Recreation Department from soliciting sponsorships and advertising.
Bringing $585,000 in HURF funds for road repair work, thanks to the Landmark student housing project at 22nd and Park.
And thanks to a talk with Doug Martin of Good News Communications and Rick Stertz, with 4Tucson, at the annual National Day of Prayer Breakfast, we brought back the splash and opened six more pools with this private/public partnership in its first, of many years of existence.
There have been many successes with these and the other ideas brought forward by my colleagues and there has been progress made, but the work cannot stop with just the adoption of the budget tonight.
We have begun the work with an Economic Development Manager and the Mayor’s Business Advocate, but this must not stop there.
The City of Tucson must focus on international economic development and the time is now, and I will be bringing proposals forward for this to become a reality.
The City has begun the process of using the Procurement Card system but that effort must be expanded. If the University of Arizona can get more than $1.0 million alone in revenue for usage of their card, why can’t the City of Tucson? I have asked for this to be agendized in August for an update and for further discussion.
Sun Tran, PTM and the Transportation Department cannot rest on the initial work on advertising for buses. I will be agendizing this for discussion about the effort, the contract and the results so far.
For the City of Tucson, as well as our community to succeed, the public/private partnerships, such as “Bring Back the Splash,” will continue to be a part of this discussion. This effort was not just a one time shot for one aspect of the Parks and Recreation program.
The restrictions have been lifted for Parks and Recreation to go out and use this option to help any and all programs they offered. As it has shown with Bring Back the Splash, the private sector benefits, the public sector benefits and most importantly, the community has six more pools open.
As with the other areas mentioned, I will be requesting this be agendized for an update and discussion.
When it comes to the City’s infrastructure, such as its computers, the past way of operations by the City of Tucson I.T. department cannot continue. I will be agendizing this to have a discussion about the third party contracts and outside vendors that the City pays for services which are not keeping up with the times.
I want to thank City staff, my colleagues and the community, for their work on this budgets, the discussions and for being able to get to this point tonight. So with that, I will vote in favor and look forward to the continuing work ahead.