Karin's Note: Friday, May 22, 2015
- Ward 3 Events
- Did You Know?
I hope you’ll provide your thoughts on two particular issues over the coming weeks (and of course on anything else you want me to hear): the City Budget and Charter Change Proposals.
On June 9th we’ll hold a Public Hearing on the Budget as Tentatively Adopted. You can view the details and City Manager Martha Durkin’s summary/comments at this link:
Several issues I have heard a great deal of feedback on include Pima Animal Care, Access Tucson, and Graffiti Abatement.
Regarding Pima Animal Care, it is true that the County surprised the City with some unexpected bills. Their administrative costs billed to the City are higher and some other new costs have been submitted to us for payment (although not in the current intergovernmental agreement). Ms. Durkin has been negotiating with the County in good faith on the City’s behalf. I expect that she’ll succeed in coming to terms we can accept moving forward (and agree with her that we would be hard-pressed to pay unanticipated and un-agreed upon retroactive expenses). The issue is not whether the County can and should provide needed services; it is about how the City and County reach terms through intergovernmental agreements so that both entities can budget and spend accordingly.
Regarding Access Tucson, I admit I am surprised by the recent criticism over the Manager’s RFP to combine Channel 12 with Public Access programming and services for a two-year period at a budget of up to $300,000 per year. In that step we also assume retention of the current facility for at least an additional year while we work to get a better handle on the value of the building/equipment and the actual band width and channel space reserved for Public use. That in turn could help us develop strategies for how best to leverage that asset to keep community media alive. I see Access Tucson as an integral partner moving forward, and certainly know they have the capacity to submit a highly competitive proposal through the RFP process. At the same time there’s no doubt Access Tucson, much like KXCI Community Radio and KUAT/KUAZ Public television and radio, faces pressure to evolve in response to economic pressure over the past few years. Adding partnerships and new sources of revenue will need to be part of their mix, and I know they’ve been working diligently at that to strengthen their proposal as well as their prospects for the future. We cannot let the channel space “go blank” (in that case the public space immediately reverts back to the private cable companies). We’ve got to put it to the best use possible and recognize the bandwidth/channel space in the long term equation.
Regarding Graffiti Abatement, I am pleased the Manager has included in her budget proposal a substantial increase in Graffiti Abatement service. The City of Avondale found that a similar, aggressive investment led to dramatic decreases in the instances of tagging, so the annual costs for abatement actually decreased year-to-year. The additional $800,000+ puts us on that path.
It also reminds us that one-year budgeting may have been necessary during the economic crisis but may not be prudent moving forward. I am hopeful we can return to a budget process covering at least two-year cycles (wherein the fundamental framework is set, and in year two only needed adjustments are made). So many of our fiscal challenges now relate to structural and longer-term line items; they need to be addressed in our multi-year plans for capital investments, debt issuance/retirement, and pension reform. A one-year lens makes it harder for Mayor and Council to map the steps needed to land with greater strength five years out. I’ll be talking the Mayor and incoming City Manager Michael Ortega about these and other ways we could approach our work to better keep both the short term and the long view in mind.
The Mayor and Council have approved two Governance Change items for referral to voters on the November ballot: Mayoral Parity would provide the Mayor with a vote on all matters, just as Council Members have, and count the Mayor’s presence toward establishment of a quorum. Changes regarding Department Directors would include standardizing the City Manager’s and Mayor/Council’s roles in Hiring/Firing Department Heads and change the status of Department Directors to At Will (versus Civil Service; exceptions would include the Police Chief and the Fire Chief).
The Mayor and Council have also moved forward on two fiscal measures (language will be brought to us for further review). Neither would raise any taxes. Both would give Mayor/Council the ability to refer questions to voters for dedicated 1) bonds by aligning City Charter with limitations in State statute 2) sales taxes beyond the existing, Charter-imposed 2% cap. I agree with colleagues that the current Charter limitations set us behind other Arizona cities because Tucson voters cannot even be asked to approve certain new revenues. The Citizen Charter Review Committee concurred as well. I offered a substitute motion to refer these questions to the 2017 ballot. I think that timing would be better and also think specific projects associated with each question would add to the likelihood of passage (for example, asking voters to allow for a dedicated quarter-cent sales tax to cover future public safety pension obligations). Our discussion on this will continue as the City Attorney brings back specific language for Mayor/Council review in June.
VALLEY OF THE MOON
On Tuesday the Mayor and Council unanimously approved a rezoning to designate the Valley of the Moon (VOM) as a Historic Landmark. There’s no doubt VOM provides an entirely unique destination for families, story tellers and story lovers in Tucson. I was heartened by the good faith support offered by next-door neighbors so their concerns about operational impacts can be addressed. As I said at the meeting, I am grateful for neighbors who work hard to protect the quality of life in their corners of the City; and I am grateful to the volunteers who keep the Valley of the Moon magical for all to enjoy. There’s no reason why the quality of life for adjacent residents and the success of the VOM can’t coincide.
I also look forward to reviewing our ordinance and process for Historic Landmarks because VOM served as our first HL rezoning. It wasn’t easy or straightforward. It needs to be for others who step up, willing to partner with the City to preserve historic treasures.
You can learn more about the Valley of the Moon at this link:
Today Comcast announced some exciting news for Tucson. In the fall of 2015 they plan to open a new customer support center here. When open, the 100,000 square-foot facility will be staffed by 1,125 customer service representatives and managers with at least 15 percent of the new positions at the Customer Support Center to be filled by military reservists, veterans and their spouses or domestic partners. While the actual location of the center has not been announced since negotiations are still ongoing, Comcast has begun advertising and posting new positions. Those interested in employment opportunities with Comcast can learn more at upcoming area career fairs and are encouraged to review job profiles and opportunities at https://jobs.comcast.com/ where they can also apply for positions. My office will also keep you posted as we learn more.
Over the past couple of weeks I had the pleasure of attending the Metropolitan Education Commissions’ Crystal Apple Awards Luncheon (https://www.tucsonaz.gov/metedu/about-metropolitan-education-commission), Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Day (https://www.habitattucson.org/), and the Mountain/1st Neighborhood Association’s Annual picnic in Ward 3 (held at the same time as the Graffiti Cleanup in the Amphi Neighborhood). I am grateful to connect with folks across Tucson doing much good work to promote community well-being.
Thanks as well to Vice Mayor Fimbres and Council Member Shirley Scott for representing the City on this upcoming Memorial Day at the VA Hospital. They’ll be presenting Veterans with cards made by local school children that convey gratitude and good wishes on behalf of Tucson.
Have a good weekend,
Ward 3 Events:
- Hedrick Acres NA – Tuesday, May 26th 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Mountain Ave Church, 2848 N. Mountain
- Jefferson Park NA – Wednesday, May 27th 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Ward III 1510 E Grant Road
- Cabrini NA – Wednesday, June 3 5:30 – 7:00 pm at Solar Store, 2833 N. Country Club
Bike Repair Workshop with BICAS! Learn about basic bike repairs with two educational demonstrations and get your bike tuned up by a BICAS mechanic! The Mountain/1st Community Action Group is providing the parts, BICAS is bringing their talented bike mechanics, and all you have to bring is your bike!
Where: Mitchell Park, 1100 E. Mitchell St. Tucson, AZ 85719
When: Saturday, June 6, 2015, the workshop starts at 9 a.m. with educational demonstrations at 9:30 and 10 a.m.!
Who: The Mountain/1st Community Action Group, Neighborhood Association and BICAS!
The first 20 people to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, will receive a free “U” bike lock! Just send them an email with “Mountain/1st Bike Lock” in the subject line, or give them a call at 520-512-5740!
Did You Know...?
Did You Know...?
…that residential and commercial trash and recycling will not be collected on Monday, May 25, 2015 as the City of Tucson will observe the Memorial Day holiday? All City of Tucson residential and commercial customers will have their trash and recycling service delayed by one day. The Los Reales Landfill will be closed Monday, May 25th. Holiday collection schedules are available online at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/environmental-services or if you have a smartphone, download the free ‘my waste’™ App to have access to all collection schedules. City offices will be closed on Monday, May 25, 2015, however, customers may leave a message for Environmental Services Customer Service at 791-3171 or by submitting a service request at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/environmental-services and they will be contacted no later than the next business day. Customer Service will be available on Saturday, May 30, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
For more information, contact Cristina Polsgrove at 520-837-3715.
…that self-guided tours are available via smartphone at Sweetwater Wetlands? - Tucson Water and Arizona Project WET have partnered to provide a series of self-guided tours at the Sweetwater Wetlands. The new Discovery Program engages visitors through a journey along the path that surrounds the ponds and recharge basins. Guests can use a QR code reader app on any smart device to view the Wetlands in a scientific way as they navigate around the 60-acre site. Sweetwater Wetlands is part of Tucson Water's reclaimed water system, where treated wastewater is filtered through recharge basins, replenishing the local aquifer. The reclaimed wastewater is then distributed for reuse at Tucson's golf courses, parks, and schools. In addition, the Wetlands is an urban wildlife habitat that the public can visit seven days a week. Sweetwater Wetlands: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/water/sweetwater-wetlands
…that you can now enroll your student in Ballet Folklórico Xóchitl? Ballet Folklorico Xochitl is a talented group of students based in the Balboa Heights neighborhood who love to dance and perform for public and private events. Many of the dances are traditional Mexican Folkloricodances from regions such as Sinaloa, Colima, Vera Cruz, and Oaxaca. Students are taught under the direction of AntoniaMaria Chavez who has danced Folklorico since she was in kindergarten and taught Folklorico dance at two local schools. Students who grow up to be teachers are a perfect example of passing a tradition on to future generations. Practice is on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:00 – 7:00 pm at 244 W. Kelso #3. Contact AntoniaMaria Chavez at 609-4100 or Monica Parker at 444-4033 for more information.
…that you can access assistance for the Full or Partial Purchase/Rental of New or Used Durable Medical Equipment? HoME Medical Equipment (HoME) is a new program of the Jewish Family & Children’s Services (JFCS) of Southern Arizona. Upon demonstrating financial need and meeting program requirements, the program offers assistance for the full or partial purchase/rental of new or used durable medical equipment such as walkers, non-electric wheelchairs and other ambulatory equipment. Call Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona’s HoME program staff at (520) 795-0300, Ext. 2213 to discuss your specific needs, and to pre-qualify.