Paul's Note - April 12th, 2019

Is it April already? Yes it is, and you know what that means.

The tax filing deadline is Monday, and if you haven’t filed, there is still time to get help from United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

VITA has been serving Tucson residents for fifteen years. Every year, hundreds (literally, hundreds!) of people sign up to train as tax preparers, greeters and interview specialists to help people get their taxes prepared for free. You might have already used their services at one of their sites this year. One is here in Ward 2 at Abounding Grace Lutheran Church.

So far this year, volunteers with United Way's VITA program have prepared nearly 2,500 returns and brought back nearly $2.5 million in refunds, but the tax filing deadline is still on the horizon, and that means there's still time for them to help even more people.

This work makes a real difference for Tucson residents. While United Way's program serves anyone making less than $66k, the average annual income for their clients is about $20,000, meaning their tax refund might be the biggest check they get all year.

We know these volunteers have a big day ahead of them for their filing finale on the fifteenth, so we wanted to make sure that they weren't volunteering on an empty stomach. At our office, we decided to pool some money to buy the volunteer team serving on the filing deadline some snacks. Together with what other city staff and local businesses are donating, we're hoping to give them a great spread. We'll be wishing them the best of luck.

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Also, this is a good time to remind those of you that are last minute tax filers that tax forms are not available at the Ward 2 office, and that they haven’t been for a few years now. If you need last minute forms, you can visit irs.gov or azdor.gov for your state forms.

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Last year, Tucson won the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, and that was due to the efforts of you and your neighbors. April means it’s challenge time again.

Join your fellow Tucsonans, April 1-30, by pledging to save water and other natural resources for our community. The Wyland Foundation’s 2019 National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation has begun. By pledging to save water for Tucson, residents have the opportunity to win eco-friendly prizes. Winning cities are those with the highest percentage of residents participating in the Challenge. Prizes include a grand prize of $3,000 in utility payments, “Green Your Home” cleaning kits, water-saving fixtures, and more. In addition, a community charity can win a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Tucson was in 1st place in its population category in 2018. Help our city repeat the victory. Make your pledge by e-mail or Facebook during April at www.mywaterpledge.com.

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There will be a shredding event on Saturday, April 20 at Sacred Heart Church at 601 E Ft. Lowell. Documents will be shredded security on site with the first box shredded for free. A $5 donation to Lend-A-Hand is suggested for addtional boxes. The shredding will happen from 8 am - 10 am.

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I’d like to extend congratulations to the University of Arizona’s women’s basketball team for their winning the NIT. With a performance like that, I wonder what they could have done in the NCAA women’s tournament had they gotten an invitation. They’d better get one next year.

Coach Adia Barnes did a remarkable thing to turn the team from one that only won six games last season to one that could dominate in this tournament. It is especially heartening because she was a Wildcat player in the 1990’s. It’s good to see an ex-player come back and contribute, especially after the remarkable professional career that she had.

Women’s sports in general do not get the support of men’s sports, which is why the community support this team got during its tournament run was so good to see. I’m glad so many of our fellow Tucsonans went out to see what these remarkable student-athletes could do. I hope we all come out to support the team next year when we win the PAC-12 and NCAA championships.