Archive for March 29th, 2009

29th March
2009
written by madge

I got to tell you I’m a huge fan of O’Dell. He has this council’s number down. Their congenial, vote as a group – go along to get along – policy is completely bringing the City of Tucson to a halt.

The city manger is on pins and needles and more worried about self preservation than leading the ship. His cover your A#$s! approach to this years budget has brought the city to a stand still. Hein won’t release a budget until the council gives direction and the council isn’t knowledgeable enough or doesn’t have the guts to propose the needed cuts.  It’s an election year for two power hungry incumbents so watch the sparks fly over the next couple weeks.

We covered Glassman’s impact fee smack down HERE. Tax increases HERE and HERE. Layoffs are off the table HERE. Problems with Rio Nuevo HERE HERE HERE Here, here, here, here….you get the picture.

Do you think there’s a pattern developing in Tucson local government?

From Walter C – AZ Star. 
The City budget is full of emotional, nice-to-do things that could be cut to balance the budget quickly without layoffs. But with the leftist, politically correct bunch on council, don’t look for any logical solutions. Mike Hein’s only goals in this are to keep his job, while crippling the City government to prepare it for a takeover by Chuckelberry and the County goons. Nobody in this game is looking for anything more than advancing their personal goals and agendas (including reelection).

Little action on proposals

The council and Hein have done an intricate dance with the budget over the past year.
Hein urged changes the council either rejected or took no action on — or, in a few cases, implemented.
While rejecting Hein’s proposals, council members offered few alternatives, and haven’t passed any of their own ideas.
Last June, council members complained Hein was over-stepping his authority and they needed to be more involved. But at an October budget-strategy session, in the face of an increasing deficit, they demurred and told Hein to figure out where to make cuts.
In most cases, the council and Hein have backed away from dramatic action.
A timeline
January 2008:Hein created a list of outside-agency funding he believed could be cut. Mayor Bob Walkup stressed belt- tightening in his State of the City speech.
February 2008:Hein announced a hiring freeze, travel restrictions and deferring maintenance and acquisitions to help bridge what was then a $12 million shortfall for the budget year, which ended June 30.
March/April 2008:Hein suspended the city’s sustainability plan of pre-programmed spending increases for road paving, police officers and firefighters, and parks.
June 2008:The council approved this year’s budget, but slammed Hein over a proposal to increase bus fares to raise $1 million. The council soon moved to fire Hein, but then he was retained unanimously weeks later.
August 2008: The city announced it needed to use $12 million to balance the previous year’s budget, lowering the city’s reserves from $44 million to under $32 million.
September 2008:Hein proposed combining Community and Neighborhood services departments to save $380,000. The council agreed.
October 2008:Plunging sales-tax receipts prompted the city’s budget deficit to explode to $51 million. The city said for the first time it might cut or suspend services. The council voted to cut funding for outside agencies by 10 percent, but told Hein to come back in December with a plan for more cuts.
November 2008: The city began to quietly cut swimming pools and recreation centers, the TICET shuttle, graffiti abatement, and the Community Food Bank. It laid off some part-time and seasonal workers.
December 2008: Hein announced another $31 million in cuts were needed. The council signed off on cutting police and fire academies, some Sun Tran bus service, and Parks and Recreation classes.
January 2009: The council said it preferred raising fees and taxes or spending down the city’s rainy-day fund to making massive budget cuts.
February 2009: Hein unveiled budget cuts and potential tax increases for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Cuts included taking $4 million from outside agencies, saving $2 million by combining the Planning and Development Services departments, cutting $4 million in transit, and hitting employees with furloughs, higher benefit contributions and no more sick-leave buybacks to save a total of $10 million.
He also offered a menu of tax increases, from which he hoped the council would implement $5 million worth.
The council agreed it would back most of Hein’s proposed cuts at that time, but, on Tuesday, council members said they need to think about it further.
Still scrapping Despite earlier statements they would back many of Hein’s cuts, council members criticized Hein over his budget again last week.
Councilwoman Regina Romero demanded more public hearings on the budget, including longer ones to allow more people to speak.
Uhlich was much harsher, saying the council needs to vote on many of Hein’s proposals, rather than continuing to let them linger in the public mind until they become de facto cuts with no council input.
For example, the merger of the Planning and Development Services departments is already under way, and employees have been given layoff notices. The council has discussed the plan, but it has not taken action.
In an interview, Uhlich said she has been “very aggressive to have the budget come in front of us. . . . Decisions have to be made sooner rather than later.”
Councilman Rodney Glassman said in an interview that he has been talking for some time about his priorities of police, fire, parks and roads.
But he said the council has not been able to come to any consensus, and he can’t make decisions alone.
“The longer we wait, the more difficult our financial situation will be,” he said. “It takes four votes to align my priorities with the budget.”
Hein said he welcomes policy direction because he doesn’t want to submit a budget to the council that is dead on arrival. But he told the council that submitting his own budget is “a duty under the (city) charter that I’m willing to fulfill.”
He is scheduled to submit the budget on April 21.
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