Tucson city leaders think about moving forward amid ballot results and budget woes

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Tucson voters rejected two major ballot issues.  Proposition 400, a half-cent per dollar hike in the city sales-tax, went down 38.19% to 61.81%.

Also going down in defeat, Prop 401, by a margin of 43.94% to 56.06%. The measure would have made changes to the city charter, including a full-time council and full voting rights for the mayor.

The City of Tucson was counting on the half cent sales tax increase to help plug a $51 million budget shortfall, but the voters said no. Now the city is working on Plan B.

Its one of the biggest questions the city of Tucson now has to answer. And they were hoping they wouldn't have to.

"I'd be lying if i said i didn't wish it would have passed so we could maintain those services, but they told us what the want and that's what we're going to do," said City Manager Mike Letcher.

Letcher now has to figure out what the next steps will be. Voters rejected prop 400 by a 3 to 2 margin. It's a proposition that would have protected police and fire staffing levels. But now layoffs seem more likely than ever.

"The mayor and council have a huge challenge and this community has a huge challenge moving forward," said Letcher.

The man who led the movement against prop 400 sat in on the city's press conference Wednesday. Shaun McLusky had one message for city officials.

"Cut one police officer, cut one firefighter there will be a recall," said McLusky.

City Manager Mike Letcher had no response.

"I'm not gonna respond to a threat," said Letcher.

Letcher says he's going right back to work to make sure he has several budget cut options to present to mayor and council, but that won't happen until early next year.

"The city manager wants to wait until next January to come back and talk about it," said council member Steve Kozachik.  "We need to talk about it now.  But, no, we have not voted a 10% cut to public safety."

At least not yet they haven't.

"We are going to have to make cuts to every city department," said Letcher.  "That doesn't necessarily translate into cutting staff."

Who goes and who stays will be up to department heads, but they say they'll do their best with the money they're given.

"I think we can still keep the city safe," said Assistant Fire Chief Dave Ridings of the Tucson Fire Department.  "Although it's not gonna be easy."

And it's not going to be cheap.

Council member Steve Kozachik says he's pushing to discuss the city's budget woes and what can be done after Prop 400's failure during next week's city council meeting.