Pauls Note: Friday, June 12, 2020

Paul’s Note
Friday, June 12, 2020
 
Paul’s Note
Pet of the Week                 
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
City-Wide Events
Did You Know?
 
Paul’s Note
 
This last week, Mayor and Council made important decisions regarding our budget and a controversial ordinance that is getting a lot of attention. I’ll touch on both below but I also want to share some various updates on City business that I think are important for Ward 3 residents. And, importantly, there’s a great story here about the Tucson House Resident’s Council and the work that they are doing right now to take care of the neighbors. Stay tuned, there’s a lot of good information ahead.
 
Tucson House Residents’ Council
 
As I have communicated previously, and something I intend to continue doing, I would like to introduce to Ward 3 residents the valuable work of three of your neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Norma Adame
Sheri Gerou
Mike Edmonds 
 
The trio are part of the executive committee of the Tucson House Residents’ Council. The six-member executive committee represent and work on behalf of the more than 400 residents of the Tucson House, the City’s largest public housing facility, located at North Oracle Road and North Drachman. The Tucson House is nearly 94 percent occupied, with residents living in 381 of 407 units. 
 
 
Norma Adame, middle, and Sheri Gerou, right, with architect Sharayah Jiménez, left, look over design plans during a Thrive in the '05 meeting. The Executive Council members have been active with a city-sponsored initiative to improve the Tucson House and nearby neighborhoods.
 
Since the pandemic swept into Tucson, forcing a state-wide lockdown (which has since been lifted) and the continued closure of municipal buildings, the three committee members have devoted endless time and expended endless energy in making sure that the residents, who are elderly, disabled and previously homeless, have the necessary food and household items to sustain themselves. 
 
“We’ve been very busy,” said Sheri, a 16-year resident of the Tucson House and treasurer of the residents’ council. 
 
The primary focus of the committee, during the pandemic, has been collecting, sorting and boxing food and necessities, and delivering the care packages to the residents. The committee works closely with GAP Ministries, a Ward 3 faith-based group, which provides the food and items. The need is great and has increased. 
 
On Wednesday the committee delivered 131 boxes, the most ever, Sheri said.  
 
Milk is high on the list of residents needing food. “That and candy, too,” she said with a chuckle. 
 
Recently individuals, who had been living in transitional housing, were given shelter at the Tucson House. They came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and whatever else they could carry in their hands. 
 
“They don’t have anything,” said Mike, who moved into the Tucson House nearly a year ago after being homeless. 
 
 
Mike Edmonds is a Tucson House resident and member of the executive committee of the Residents' Council. He is also a Street Ambassador for the City's Department of Transportation and Mobility's Move Tucson Initiative
 
Staff with the City’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which oversees the Tucson House, scrambled to find beds and bedding for the new residents, said Pauline Nuñez, the Elderly Disabled Service Coordinator for HCD and who works with the Residents’ Council. UnitedHealthcare insurance purchased 33 new air mattresses for the new residents who eventually will receive beds and bedding, Nuñez added. 
 
In addition to what GAP Ministries provides residents, Nuñez said that Pima Council on Aging currently provides 370 frozen meals a week with a grant from the CARES Act, the $2 trillion coronavirus financial relief plan passed by Congress in March, and the Community Bank of Southern Arizona provides provisions once a month, all of which are distributed by city employees from HCD and Parks and Recreation. But the city employees can’t do all the work by themselves. The TH residents’ role is critical, Nuñez said. 
 
“They fill the need,” she said. “It’s really amazing,” adding that the volunteers are in the high-risk age category for COVID-19. 
 
Despite some of the residents’ hardships, there is a return that Sheri, Mike and Norma, and other Tucson House volunteers receive for their boundless work. 
 
“People are very appreciative,” Norma said. She has lived in the Tucson House for 6 years and served on the committee for nearly 3 years. 
 
Like her counterparts, Norma said she feels the satisfaction of helping her Tucson House neighbors. 
“I find it joyful to be able to do that,” she said.  
 
Bus Rapid Transit in Tucson
 
Yesterday I learned that the City of Tucson received a $950k grant from the FTA to support comprehensive planning for a future Bus Rapid Transit line in Ward 3 and Ward 5. 
 
You can view the full announcement from the FTA here and a description of the grant here
The proposed new fixed guideway bus rapid transit (BRT) project is a major 14.5-mile north/south regional corridor.
 
 
The corridor comprises two BRT segments that would operate primarily within a fully dedicated right-of-way. Stations will be located at major intersections, transfer points, and trip generators spaced half a mile to one mile apart.
  • The north segment extends from the Tohono T’adai Regional Transit Center to Downtown Tucson/Ronstadt Regional Transit Center and serves Pima Community College (PCC) Downtown Campus and the Tucson Mall.
  • The south segment extends from the Tucson International Airport to Downtown Tucson and serves the City of South Tucson, regional VA Hospital, Tucson Rodeo Grounds, and Roy Laos Transit Center. Both segments will connect to the existing streetcar line in Downtown Tucson and fixed-route bus service throughout the corridor.
This planning grant gets us one-step closer to seeing this important transit improvement come to fruition. Congratulations to the team at the Department of Transportation and Mobility who developed the proposal as well as Mayor Romero and our Congressional Delegation for supporting the proposal.
 
Recycling Grant
 
As regular readers are aware, Tucson has experienced a number of issues maintaining our recycling services. This dynamic is not unique to Tucson, however, and municipalities across the country are having similar issues as the global market for recycling has shifted significantly in the last two years.
 
One of the main issues that we face are high levels of contaminants in our recycling stream. This is caused by non-recyclable goods being dumped in the blue bins. This can include pesky products like plastic bags or Styrofoam but also items such as plastic blinds or patio chairs. Many of the worst offenders simply use their blue bin as a garbage bin which then can contaminate the entire load in the truck that pick it up. Learn more about what is recyclable here.
 
The City of Tucson’s Environmental Services Department was recently awarded a grant from the Recycling Partnership to help combat recycling contamination in Tucson. The grant will allow the city to work with 30,000 households to reduce their contamination levels by using targeted education. The effort will run for 8 weeks and will include before and after contamination level assessments to evaluate its success.
 
The $140,750 grant from Recycling Partnership will support the City of Tucson in discerning how best to ensure residents have accurate information and to what extent that will impact behavior. I will share those results with you once we have them.
 
Governing During COVID-19
 
City Budget
 
On Tuesday, I joined with colleagues to ensure the City of Tucson budgeted resources for the next fiscal year to support our Climate Action Plan and Equity Needs Assessment as well as support our hiring of a Housing First Director and eight social workers. Each of these investments are responsive to needs we have heard loud and clear from Tucson residents. Now the onus is on us to ensure we can meet these needs within a structured budget.
 
To help us ensure that the city is able to thoughtfully invest our funds in alignment with the priorities of constituents, this week I signed a memo with Mayor Romero and Council Member Fimbres to alter the timeline for approving the budget. The aim is to ensure that we can meet statutory requirements that dictate the process and timeline for budget approval while also ensuring that residents have opportunity to weigh in. Slowing down the timeline will allow us to host additional virtual public hearing and budget town halls to ensure that, even while we must physically distant ourselves, that adequate forms of participation are available. Here’s the new time line:
 
June 23, 2020:
Study Session: Discussion on Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
Regular Session: Continuation of Public Hearing on Recommended Budget from June 9, 2020 meeting
 
June 30, 2020: Special Meeting
Regular Session:
  • Discussion on Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
  • Public Hearing – Recommended Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2021
  • Tentative Adoption of Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
July 7, 2020:
Study Session: Discussion on Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
 
July 21, 2020: Special Meeting
Regular Session:
  • Public Hearing – Truth & Taxation for Primary Property Tax Increase
  • Public Hearing - Tentative Adoption of Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
  • Final Budget Adoption
August 11, 2020: Special Meeting
Regular Session: Adoption of Property Tax Levy
 
In addition to the timeline changes, we have also requested a more robust presentation of the budget. The goal here is to ensure that all members of Mayor and Council as well as the public have the complete view of the budget. To that end, we have asked for a one-page budget summary sheet showing the following funds:
 
o General Fund
o Special Revenue Funds
o Enterprise Funds
o Debt Service Fund
o Capital Project Funds
o Internal Service Funds
o Fiduciary Funds
o CARES Act Funds
o HUD CARES Funds
o FEMA Funds
o Total All Budgeted Funds
 
I’ve had a number of constituents ask for a more robust presentation of the budget and, quite frankly, we just don’t have one currently prepared at this moment. We plan to have the participatory tool up and available by the start of next week. That tool will also allow you to provide direct comment on the budget.
 
The town halls I referenced earlier are planned for June 22 from 5:30-6:30pm and June 29 from 12:00-1:00pm. Once I have registration information, I will share that on my social media.
 
COVID-19 Statistics

On Wednesday, at a press conference with Governor Ducey, Dr. Cara Christ said, “We are not going to be able to stop the spread and so we can’t stop living as well." That came from Arizona’s top public health expert as the state is seeing massive increases in new positive cases and hospitalizations. It strikes me as a de facto endorsement of herd immunity. Such a move would place a huge burden on older adults and immuno-compromised residents of all ages.

We are still in a state of emergency. The City of Tucson still strongly recommends that individuals wear face coverings when in public and maintain a 6-foot distance at all times with anyone from outside of your household whenever possible. Had the Governor not limited cities and counties ability to enact further restrictions, I’m confident we would be requiring greater adherence with CDC recommendations. As it is now, we need our residents to do their very best to limit their exposure so as to best protect others in their community.

Pima County continues to see major increases in both new cases of, and hospitalizations related to, COVID-19. You can see our positive case and deaths trends below.
 
 
Arguably, Pima County is doing much better than many other parts of the state. That said, if cases continue to climb we run the risk of overwhelming our hospitals. As of Wednesday, June 10, the state had hit 83% capacity in Arizona hospitals. That figure is up 5 points from just two days prior. Numerous public health experts have linked the increases in positive cases and hospitalizations with the Governor’s action to reopen the economy too quickly.
 
Unfortunately, the Governor has also limited the actions that counties and cities can take. If this troubles you, as it troubles me and my staff, I would encourage you to reach out to the Governor’s office directly and ask that he take immediate action to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
 
As always, I wish you health and happiness over the coming week. Don’t forget, wear a face covering in public and give your neighbors and passers-by a 6-foot bubble.
 
 - Paul D.
 
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Pet of the Week
 
 
 
My name is Elliot! I am a friendly boy, who currently shares space with a female roommate and we get along great. I do play with dogs who share my medium level of energy but of course, would need to meet them first to determine if we get along. I love people of any size and would make a great family member but will need some initial guidance of how to approach very small humans. I have nice leash manners, once my excitement of going for a walk has subsided, which is quick. Once I have greeted my humans with affection, I am respectful and polite. The folks at Humane Society of Southern Arizona think I’m about a year old. Let me tell you I’m ready to be your new best friend. Come meet me and fall in love (Just look at the heart on my forehead!).
 
You can call 520 327 6088 ext.173 to schedule an appointment to meet Elliot today!
 
PACC Offers Help For Pet Owners Affected By COVID19
 
Does your pet need vaccinations or mild medical care due to the struggles you’ve faced because of COVID-19? Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) is offering free vaccinations and minor medical care for non-surgery procedures, such as ear infections, urinary tract infections, allergies, etc. Dental work, cancer treatment, and more serious issues are not covered as part of the program. To see if you qualify, follow the link below.
 
PACC Is Helping Struggling Pet Owners
 
Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) plans to hold drive-thru food distribution centers for pet owners affected by COVID-19. GreaterGood.org donated the food to Friends of Pima Animal Care Center, PACC’s official nonprofit partner. PACC staff and volunteers will hand out one gallon resealable zipper storage bags with pet food to people facing hardship because of COVID-19. This can be due to illness, job loss, financial insecurity or any other challenges related to the pandemic. Starting Sunday, May 10, the drive-thru line will take place in PACC's main parking lot every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 7:30-9:30 am. People will drive into the lot from the main entrance at Silverbell and Sweetwater where volunteers and staffers will be waiting with food.
 
 
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Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
 
Keeling Desert Park Cleanup
Saturday
June 13
8-10 am
Keeling Desert Park
245 E Glenn St
 
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City-Wide Events
 
Webinar Series Part XII. Navigating the Impacts of COVID-19
Monday
June 15
3-4 pm
 
 
Please attend this free webinar, hosted by the City of Tucson Office of Economic Initiatives, and learn about the Blax Friday project, an effort to create an accessible list of black-owned businesses in Tucson. Plus, hear from Pima County administrators about the Back to Business initiative, how the County is marketing the campaign, plus re-opening requirements for restaurants, bars, gyms, pools and spas. Featured speakers from Pima County include Ashley La Russa, Jan Lesher, Loni Anderson and Mark Evans.
 
Webinar Series Parts I - XI are now available at ConnectTucson.
 
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Did You Know?
 
Mayor and Council to Revisit an Ordinance Dealing with Police and the Public
 
The Mayor and Tucson City Council is accepting comments on an ordinance it passed on April 21 that prohibits a person from knowingly obstructing or hindering police from their official duties, but does not prohibit recording police in public. The council will review the ordinance on June 23, saying it needs more community input. Comments can be submitted at comments@tucsonaz.gov 
 
New online payment system for City utility customers goes live Wednesday, June 17 at 8 am
 
The City of Tucson is launching a new online payment system for utility services accounts.
On June 17, all current AutoPay and eBill/paperless customers will be required to create an account in the new system to continue automatic payments and/or receive their bill electronically. New signups for AutoPay and eBill will not be available until that date.
 
 
 
Other Ways to Pay
 
PAY BY PHONE
Pay 24 hours a day using:
  • MasterCard, Visa, Discover
  • Or electronic check
Interactive Voice Response system:
(520) 791-3242
 
PAY BY MAIL
Use the pre-addressed envelope included in your bill or mail to:
City of Tucson
P.O. Box 52771
Phoenix, AZ 85072-2771
 
PAY AT DROPBOX 
(All City cashier locations are temporarily closed for in-person payments.)
 
 
Hownd
 
 
Hownd is an Arizona-based foot traffic generation platform for brick and mortar businesses. We are working to get an initial 50 Tucson businesses to take advantage of this program. 
 
Since the pandemic began, Hownd has generated more than $1.5 million in immediate revenue to merchants by selling Buy Now Visit Later Support Vouchers (essentially non-expiring gift cards) to consumers who want to support local businesses.
 
There is no risk to local businesses because the City of Tucson is paying all of Hownd’s usual ‘pay-per-visit’ fees as businesses bring in customers over the next 12 months (which started on June 1) or when the City’s pay-per-visit fee coverage budget is depleted (whichever comes first). Businesses don’t pay any upfront cost, and there’s no monthly subscription fee. Business owners can promote their business to thousands of nearby consumers by offering gift cards, coupons, and Buy Now offers.
 
The sign-up process takes less than 10 minutes and activating offers on their platform is effortless because Hownd does it all.
 
You can learn more about Hownd here
The City’s page
The City/County page
For a recent webinar with Hownd
 
 
School Districts Provide Free Summer Meals for Kids
 
Local school districts and community organizations are providing free breakfasts and lunches for children Monday-Friday throughout the Tucson area as part of the federal summer meal program. Most locations are distributing free meals to all children ages 18 and under. There are no income requirements, and children do not need to be enrolled in the district or school. The Arizona Department of Education has a mapping tool to find the closest school meal site to you.
 
Avoid Crowds at Early Voting Sites
 
 
The Pima County Recorder offers Early Voting and Emergency Voting before Election Day. Early Voting begins on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at the three County Recorder offices.  Other Early Voting Sites will be open on Monday, July 27 through Friday, July 31, 2020, the week before Primary Election Day. For a list of early voting sites and deadlines please visit this website.
 
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Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
 
Ward 3 has Facebook and Twitter pages so you can keep up with our Council Member and stay in touch with what's happening in Tucson and around the Ward.
 
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham
 
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