Tucson From Potholes To “Budget Hole”

On Tuesday, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild delivered his State of the City address replete with thematic music to set the tone. On Monday Steve Kozachik, delivered the truth and had his newsletter included thematic music, one would have heard Barry McGuire singing Eve of Destruction.

Kozachik says that the City has “budget hole” of $25.6 million that the Mayor and Council are “still trying to address before July 1st of this year.”

In his newsletter, Kozachik claimed that the City can get to structural balance by continuing to reduce ongoing costs, but “that equates to reducing services to the public.” He rejects that option and wants to raise taxes.

He is counting on the Review Committee to come up with “some suggestions relative to ballot questions we could take to you this November.”

“I’ll share the results of the recent polling we did that will inform some of their recommendations and ultimately our final decisions,” wrote Kozachik. “By way of example, here’s how the ballot question may be framed. This is simply one example out of several I could concoct, but it will give you the general idea as to how we’ll need to frame the November ballot discussion.”
Kozachik’s speil is both meandering and alarming. He wrote:

“We have a deficit going forward. Parks and Recreation is about a $38M line item in the General Fund (GF). A ½ cent sales tax will yield between $45M and $50M. One possible idea is to pull P&R out of the GF and earmark a cap of $40M to fund it – the remainder of the sales tax hike revenues going back into the GF. That would instantly ease the stress on the General Fund by between $40M and $45M dollars. With those newly freed up revenues, we can make some of the capital purchases (police and fire vehicles) that we sorely need to make. We can also do some of the deferred maintenance on our infrastructure that has been left waiting for a catastrophic failure for far too long.

The key in that scenario is that we get approval from you to increase our sales tax by ½ cent. Otherwise, we continue to make budget cuts, and services suffer. So what did you say in the recent polls?

Kozachik reports that the public is none too happy with their limited choices. Over 50 percent said they would oppose increasing the City’s sales tax. More than half of that group said they were strongly opposed to an increase.

Nearly 40 percent would accept an increase, but of that group, only 25 percent strongly supported an increase.

A majority of people said they would support a sales tax increase if it would prevent reductions to public safety. However no one believes that a tax increase will protect public safety because it has never been a priority of the City Council.

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