Tucson's tough budget decisionsPosted: Updated:
Tucson is in a budget crisis and city leaders say it'll be tight even if voters approve a .5¢ sales tax increase in November. But one city council member claims to have a plan for budget relief.
Higher bus fares or fewer cops on Tucson streets, it's a reality residents may soon have to face.
"If you and i have a problem in our home,we don't wait to win the lottery, we start making decisions now," said Council Member Steve Kozachik.
That lottery would be if voters pass a half cent sales tax increase this November, that's plan A. If not, plan B includes laying off 148 police officers and 100 firefighters. But Steve Kozachik unveiled what he calls plan C. "There are things that city councils in the past have not had the political will to do," said Kozachik.
Plan C calls for things like pay cuts for the highest paid city workers, and reductions in all city department budgets. The public would pay as well. The Kozachik plan calls for a 5 million dollar slash in Sun Tran funding plus a 25 to 100 percent increase for bus fares.
His plan would save officers, but is this what Tucsonans prefer?
"It's an easy question to answer just intuitively," said Kozachik. "If my house is getting burglarized or my house is on fire or I have to wait 10 minutes at the bus stop, I mean how are you gonna go?"
But the choice for those waiting at the Ronstadt Center isn't so clear cut. A lot of people depend on low fares for their daily transportation. "I would like to keep the fares the same i think they're enough cops out there," said one bus rider.
But Police Union President Larry Lopez says the recent spree of murders shows otherwise. He says now more than ever, public safety should be priority number one. "We all understand that some people think Parks and Rec. or transportation are priorities," said Lopez. "However, when you pick up the phone and call 911 you don't get a Parks and Recreation person, or a Sun Tran employee you get a firefighter or police officer."
Kozachik hopes his proposal gets support. "I'm hoping that the political will exists now," said Kozachik. "And that's the reason I put the proposal back out there."
Because for now, there's no plan D.