Some observations on Tucson’s $33 million budget deficit

tucson-downtownAccording to a story in the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson faces a $33 million deficit in the next fiscal year. Tucson City Manager, Richard Miranda, says that too many departments and services have become “outdated” and “inefficient.”

Miranda was vague on which departments fall into those categories. I suspect that the City will, as usual, threaten to cut vital services, rather than cut nice-to-have, but unnecessary functions.

Why does Tucson have a deficit? In my opinion, Tucson spends too much money on politically correct, eco-fad projects and policies. The City also does not competently manage parking or the convention center.

The “Modern” Street Car:

“In its first full year of operation, city officials expect the new Sun Link Streetcar system to bring in $306,000 in rider fares – and require nearly $4 million in local government subsidies.

Fares will cover only 6 to 7 percent of the system’s annual operating cost, according to a draft five-year Strategic Transit Plan. By comparison, fares pay for 24 percent of Sun Tran bus system operations.” AZStar October 09, 2012

“Operating costs, previously estimated at $2.9 million, are now pegged at $5.2 million in 2017 and $5.4 million in 2018.” AZStar March 06, 2013

And there was approximately $200 million in capital costs.

See my post: Will the Tucson modern streetcar be a money pit?

Other Tucson departments:

Take a look at the list of Tucson City departments: See any, or parts of them, that we could do without?

I have a candidate: Tucson Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development (OCSD), Their website gives me the impression that they would be more accurately named the Office of Eco-fads and Global Warming Hype.

The Energy Office, ( ), seems, at least in part, to duplicate the OCSD. They, too, are heavily into non-essential eco-fads.

The Tucson Convention Center, operated by the City of Tucson, is another money pit.

Remember this: “Booking missteps at Tucson Convention Center costing City $300,000.” AZStar, Nov. 25, 2012.

Or this: “The cost of losing gun shows at the Tucson Convention Center” Tucson News Now, Feb. 11, 2013.

Or this: In 2013, “the city paid $3.4 million in losses and lease costs. Even though the city traditionally puts money into the Convention Center every year, city officials believe declining events and revenues don’t justify the expenses.” AZStar, July 10, 2013.

At least the City brought in a private management group, but why not sell the convention center outright and see if private enterprise could operate it at a profit?

How often do you watch City owned and operated Channel 12: ?

Which Tucson city departments would you cut or downsize?

These conditions may also have something to do with the deficit:

“Tucson is one of the nation’s five least-friendly cities for small business, according to a new national business survey. The city failed in five of the 10 factors measured, receiving an F grade for its zoning ordinances, license requirements, tax code, ease of start-up, and overall friendliness toward business.” Inside Tucson Business, May 10, 2012

Tucson sued over preference for local, not lowest, bidders AZStar Feb. 8, 2014. The Goldwater Institute says, “The City of Tucson recently enacted a discriminatory local bid preference ordinance, casting off the fundamental concepts of fairness, openness, and predictability in the public procurement process. In doing so, the city raised costs for taxpayers in Tucson and throughout the state, guaranteeing Tucsonans will pay more for public services, while encouraging other cities to discriminate against Tucson businesses that seek to do work outside Old Pueblo.” Read more from the Goldwater Institute.

Related articles:

Goldwater suit aims to stop Tucson bid preference policies

Downtown Tucson obstacle course creates hazards for pedestrians