Archive for June 29th, 2011
Ms. Uhlich, Ms. Romero, Ms. Scott, and Ms. Walkup are now mandating how Koz uses his Ward’s discretionary funds. Is this the same crew that swept $12 million out of the road paving fund to build the Cushing St. bridge so they can get their magic choo-choo(a choo-choo that further increases the taxpayers’ transportation subsidy burden)? If Rawson and Vogt are smart, I would do my best to inform the Ward 6 residents that Ms. Scott and Ms. Romero voted to block fixing the streets of their neighborhood. Hey, Karin, we know you are butt-hurt because Steve is making you like bad. Let it go. There are plenty of Ward Sixers that voted for you.
Fixing Ward 6 roads becomes a contentious council item
Rhonda Bodfield, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Monday, June 27, 2011
City Councilman Steve Kozachik has money left over in his office budget that he wants to useon road repairs in his ward.
He doesn’t take a city car. His chief of staff works part time.
So before the fiscal year calendar clicks over in July, when leftover dollars are swept into the general fund, Kozachik wants to use it to fill some potholes in his territory.
There is historical precedent.
Over the years, council members have routinely dipped into their office budgets to help neighborhoods pay for such things as street lighting or road humps or park improvements or festivals.
Just look back to 2008. Councilwoman Karin Uhlich reallocated $10,000 from her office budget to support Habitat for Humanity. Councilwoman Regina Romero similarly was granted approval to put $5,600 toward a long list of organizations, from Little League to nonprofits to the Sunnyside and Menlo Park neighborhood associations.
So Kozachik had reason to think the vote on his plan would go down the same way.
Instead, on a 5-2 vote, with Paul Cunningham voting with Kozachik, the council continued the item to July 6 to explore a “pooled” approach.
“People in my ward aren’t real amused by the rest of the council members dipping their hands into the Ward 6 cookie jar,” an incensed Kozachik said. “The hypocrisy is just dripping off this thing.”
Each council office gets the same amount of tax dollars. Kozachik said he doesn’t care how any of the council members want to spend theirs. But his residents are deeply unhappy with the state of the roads. The city’s own transportation staff has indicated that 50 percent of residential roads fall into the “poor” or “failed” categories.
He said he thinks politics are at play. “All I have is speculation, but it appears to me this group has just been disinclined to let me take the lead on something. And it’s really getting old.”
Uhlich, who made the move to put on the brakes, said it’s about equity, not politics. She’d prefer council members pool their resources into one big pot for a more comprehensive paving effort.
“I’m simply suggesting we have a coordinated approach to make sure one resident over another does not get a different level of service,” she said. Saying the council has been moving in recent years away from what she characterized as a “parochial or Balkanized” manner, she added that a pool would mean all residents get their fair share.
Uhlich said it’s not because she’s afraid Kozachik will look better than she does. Her own office is on track to have $49,000 left over, not including $80,000 in unused Back to Basics money. The offices, which used to have $425,000 in funding, are now allocated $323,000.
But she said some offices won’t have any money left.
Plus, she said, she wants the Transportation Department to determine where the roads are in the worst shape. Maybe they’re in Ward 6, she said, maybe not.
“That should be done by an objective approach. It shouldn’t be just because one council member happens to not need a car for whatever reason.”
Won’t that be a disincentive for council offices to be frugal? “If we end up doing it for less, then it should benefit all the taxpayers in the community,” she said.
So what about some of her office’s earlier requests? That was then, she said, before times got tougher on city finances and council members pooled their Back to Basics money.
You can make the argument that council members are elected at large, even though they’re nominated by ward.
But the way Kozachik sees it, the system is designed for council members to advocate for their wards.
He’s hosting a neighborhood meeting on Wednesday at the Ward 6 office to prepare for the July 6 item. We’ll see if Ward 6 residents see it his way.
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