Tucson city leaders diverge on addressing budget

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Tucson's city council will meet Tuesday for the first time since Prop 400's failure. The city now has a huge challenge on its shoulders, balancing its budget while still keeping the community safe.

Police and fire positions are on the chopping block, but no decisions will be made until January.

Critics say city officials are wasting time.

"We owe it to them to say these are our plans..We're not going to punt for 3 months and let you sit and wait," said council member Steve Kozachik.  "We need to make a decision now so they can make decisions in their own lives."

Council member Steve Kozachik doesn't want to wait until January 5 to take action. City manager Mike Letcher does.

"The longer we wait the more damage we're doing to both agencies," said Kozachik.

"Why aren't we doing it now?  It needs to be done now," said former Tucson Police Captain Rich Harper.  "We can't wait till January."

Rich Harper says police officers are stuck in limbo.

Their jobs right now are uncertain, so many are choosing to go elsewhere.

"When you have a government that says we don't know what to do and we don't have a plan then you have to plan for yourself and for your family," said Kozachik.

Those plans include jumping ship to other law enforcement agencies hiring across the state.

"Sierra Vista's hiring.  Pinal County is hiring.  The border patrol is hiring," Kozachik continued.

The city knows up to 400 jobs will be cut. The mayor and city manager say the layoffs could be far less than expected through attrition. But as far as Kozachik is concerned attrition is political cover, a job lost is a job lost.

"Even if its by attrition its gonna be like we laid them off," said Kozachik.

And it's not just officers and firefighters playing the waiting game. Taxpayers want to know what their city will look like in a post Prop 400 world. They don't want to wait almost two months to see it.

"I can't wait till after Christmas to make the tough decisions in my life. Those are decisions that i have to make now. I urge the city council to do the same thing."

Tuesday's city council meeting begins about 12:30 P.M.