Paul's Note: Friday February 02, 2018

Paul’s Note

Friday, February 2nd, 2018


  • Paul’s Note
  • Ward 3 Events
  • Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
  • City-Wide Events
  • Did You Know?
Notes on the Budget

Mayor and Council met for the afternoon on January 26th to begin the process of preparing the City’s budget for the next fiscal year (starting July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2019). We’ll meet again in about a month for the second budget meeting. This, of course, is the first time I’ll be part of this process. It’s not boring, but it is difficult.

It’s difficult for a number of reasons, but probably the major difficulty comes from the fact that our expenses are growing faster than our revenues, particularly in the areas of pensions and health insurance.

The City’s required contribution to the public safety pension plan (PSPRS), which was $2 million in fiscal year 1999 and $83 million in the current year, will climb to $125.9 million in 2029 if we stay on the current schedule for paying off our unfunded liability. City Manager Ortega has suggested that one option would be to switch to a longer amortization period for that unfunded liability. He is suggesting that we consider switching from our current 20-year schedule (one year of which has passed) to a 30-year schedule.

Taking all other costs and revenues into account, that change would free up about $6 million in the next fiscal year. That matches the one-year cost of a 2% across-the-board salary increase for all City employees. From other funds, City Manager Ortega is proposing a 2.5% across-the-board increase effective April 5th, for a total of about 4.5% by July. Of course, these suggestions have not been approved by Mayor and Council.

I am concerned that the City Manager’s proposal amounts to borrowing to pay for a salary increase, but if Tucson loses the ability to recruit and retain our employees, the cost will be much greater. And it’s also the right thing to do for our employees. I haven’t even mentioned other needs like parks maintenance, capital needs at City-owned golf courses and maintaining or increasing funding for other City programs. The budget is a real challenge!

We are working on some other ideas, such as self-insuring for health care costs to save money, and creating (with voter approval) either a parks or fire district with the ability to levy a property tax. The property tax could be accompanied by reduced sales taxes, thus increasing progressivity of the City’s taxes over all. But these ideas will take time to implement, a few years in the case of the parks or fire district.

Tucson is still struggling to provide the best city services we can possibly afford. A lot of progress has been made (we no longer face multi-million dollar deficits), but we still can’t afford what we really need.

The budget is perhaps the most important single thing the City Council does. So you’ll hear a lot more from me on this subject.

 -Paul D.



Ward 3 Events: 


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program returns to Ward 3

February 3rd – April 14th
9am – 1 pm
Ward 3 Council Office
1510 E. Grant Rd

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona provides FREE, quality tax preparation from IRS-certified preparers to individuals and families earning up to $66,000 annually. United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s VITA program helps taxpayers access all tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which has been recognized as the single most powerful tool to lift children out of poverty. Please bring a copy of last year’s tax returns and a photo ID.



Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings:

Alvernon Grant Initiative Tuesday Feb. 13th 6pm, Church of the Brethren, 2200 N Dodge Blvd.
Flowing Wells NA  Thursday Feb. 15th 6pm, Ellie Towne Center, 1660 W Ruthrauff Rd.
Mountain View NA  Thursday Feb. 15th 6pm, Habitat for Humanity, 3501 N Mountain


City-Wide Events:


Tucson’s Annual Gem Shows Continues

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil continues through Sunday, Feb. 11. Visitors and residents come to hunt for jewelry, jewelry-making supplies, bargain-priced collectibles, and rare treasures. Shows take place at dozens of locations throughout the Tucson area. Most are open to the public with free admission. The showcase concludes with the 64th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center, Feb. 8-11. The Official Tucson Gem Show Guide app (see links below) provides show locations, hours of operation, transportation options, and a guide to local dining. Park Tucson offers GemRide, a free shuttle service that connects convenient parking locations with most of the shows.
Visit Tucson event listing:
Official Gem Show Guide app:
Park Tucson Gem Show Parking and Free GemRide Shuttle:
Tucson Gem and Mineral Show:


Get Your Tickets for Tasty Mesquite Pancakes and Family Fun!

Sunday, February  11th
9 a.m.-Noon

1137 N Dodge Blvd
Buy Tickets Today

Bring the whole family to celebrate the delicious shade of mesquite, and enjoy music, puppet shows, live music, presentations, demonstrations, free native trees from TEP and more. Limited to 500 people.



Did You Know...?


St. Francis Shelter is in need of volunteers!

The St. Francis Shelter, housed by Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 601 East Ft. Lowell Rd. in Ward 3, provides dinner and a place to sleep for those experiencing homelessness. Their Director, Carl Zawatski, has recently been diagnosed with cancer and they are short staffed while he undergoes treatment. They are seeking volunteers for:
Food Line: 7:30-9:30pm
Shelter: 9:30pm-12:00am
Thrift Store: 9:30am-1:30pm
If you're interested and able to help, call Jonny at (520) 389-9487 or you can contact them on Facebook at:

Food Donation Box in the Ward 3 Community Room

Food donations can be dropped in the Community Room box Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. The Community Food Bank welcomes your donations of nonperishable items, as 1 in 4 children in Arizona are at risk for hunger, and 1 in 5 adults. Please join the fight against hunger and donate nonperishable items to help feed kids, families and seniors. Nonperishable food in plastic, cardboard or cans works best for transporting (glass can easily be broken). Thank you for making a difference with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona!


Reid Park Zoo Celebrates Grand Opening of Animal Health Center

Reid Park Zoo is now leading the way in innovative animal medicine with the grand opening of its state-of-the-art Animal Health Center. Dedicated yesterday, the facility will provide the Zoo with more opportunities to teach curious young minds through additional educational programming. Also, students from the University of Arizona’s new Marley Foundation Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Program will have the opportunity to train in whole-life animal care by observing and assisting at the new center. The new 11,000-square-foot facility expansion includes a larger treatment and surgical area, hydraulic tables to make it easier to move large animals, an on-site lab to provide vital diagnostic data, digital imaging to produce fast x-rays with less radiation exposure, an education gallery with floor-to-ceiling windows for real-time observation of procedures, video monitoring so staff can observe ill animals without disturbing them, and more.
Reid Park Zoo:


Toilet Replacement for Limited Income Homeowners

Tucson Water offers free toilets to qualifying limited-income households. The rebate program is in conjunction with Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona (CHRPA) and offers free replacement of toilets manufactured in 1991 or earlier that consume 3.5 or more gallons per flush. You must be a Tucson Water customer and show proof of income to receive this service. Rental properties are not eligible. The program also provides hardware and installation. For more information, call CHRPA at (520) 745-2055.
Tucson Water toilet replacement program:
Tucson Water:


Overnight maintenance on Interstate 10 frontage roads continues next week in Tucson

The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to plan for the following restrictions on the I-10 frontage roads in Tucson:
•The east- and westbound I-10 frontage roads and ramps at Miracle Mile (SR 77) will be reduced to one lane (alternating lane closures) from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. from Wednesday, Feb. 7, through Thursday, Feb. 8.
•The east- and westbound I-10 frontage roads and ramps at Grant Road will be reduced to one lane (alternating lane closures) from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily from Thursday, Feb. 8, through Saturday, Feb. 10.
Drivers should proceed through the work zone with caution, slow down and watch for construction personnel and equipment.
Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call the ADOT Project Information Line at (855) 712-8530 or email For real-time highway conditions statewide, visit ADOT’s Traveler Information Site at, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511, except while driving.

Council Member Paul Durham is on social media!

Ward 3 has created new Facebook and Twitter pages for our new Council Member to keep in touch with what's happening in Tucson and around the Ward.
Please "Like" us on Facebook:
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