Brent Davis, who is a friend and once served as your Ward 2 councilperson, posted on Facebook this week that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He is doing okay: asymptomatic and quarantining at home. I’m glad for that, but I know it could be a whole lot worse.
In case you needed another reminder, Coronavirus is serious and real. Limit your time out of the house. If you must be out in public, wear a mask and practice distancing. And, if you have any symptoms, stay home. As I said a couple of weeks ago, this is not only for your safety, but the safety of others.
We passed a preliminary budget on Tuesday. You can think of what we passed as a sort of outline, but we are still looking for input. An hour and a half of our meeting on Tuesday was dedicated to public input, and we still want more.
Our General Fund is projected to be $517 million for the next fiscal year. That includes city programs from parks to the police and fire departments, but it doesn’t include things like water and environmental services, which are enterprise funds that generate their own revenue. That is only a part of our $1.7 billion budget.
Most of you are savvy about budgets for your household or for your business, but that little paragraph alone tells you that this isn’t a simple matter of credits and debits. Municipal budgets are a complicated beast, and it can be hard for citizens to have all the information they need before weighing in on budget issues. It is especially more difficult right now with everything that is going on.
We want and need your input, and we want to give you the tools to do so. In fact, we are even calling it the Community Participatory Budget Tool.
When you sign on, you’ll find information about our tentative budget for departments that provide direct service to the community along with some information about the services those departments provide to the City. After review of the City Manager's proposed funding distribution, you'll have an opportunity to share how you would distribute funds to these departments.
So far, 1600 Tucsonans have browsed the budget tool, with almost 400 submitting their own budgets.
Additionally, there will be a chance for the public to weigh in again at our next council meeting, Tuesday, July 7th. To participate remotely, email firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions. You can also send written comment (with your name and address) to that address as well.
My colleagues and I will use all of this input when we pass the budget in August.
As we go through this process, don’t hesitate to contact my office with any budget questions. We’ll make sure to connect you to the right people.
I’d like to give you all, particularly those of you that own small businesses, another reminder about the We Are One/Somos Uno Resiliency Fund.
The fund is managed by the Business Development Finance Corporation (BDFC), has no-interest loans available for Tucson small businesses. Since the loan program rolled out in April, more than $300,000 has been awarded of the $1 million authorized by my colleagues and I to assist local small businesses. The remainder of the funds will be allocated for direct loans to businesses that are minority-, women-, veteran-, or disability-owned and/or located in low-to-moderate income areas.
Eligible businesses must be located within Tucson city limits, have a valid City of Tucson business license, and be registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in good standing. Sole proprietors do not have to be registered with the ACC. The deadline to apply is midnight, May 26. For more information on these loan programs, go to the BDFC website or contact the City of Tucson Small Business Hotline at (520) 837-4100.
Unfortunately, we will not be having fireworks this year. I made my feelings known to the city manager that between COVID-19 and a particularly bad fire season, I could not in good conscience support the city doing them this year. Next year, our fireworks display will be better than ever.
Even without the fireworks, I hope that all of you find a way to celebrate America and all that we share. Keep in mind the health professionals, emergency personnel that are hard at work, and the fire fighters on the lines of the Bighorn Fire.