City of Tucson, Rio Nuevo board relationship likely to be more contentious

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The historically rocky relationship between the Rio Nuevo board and the City of Tucson, soon could get even rockier.

Four new appointees are joining the board.

"The relationship between the city and the district has always been imperfect," said Rio Nuevo Board Chair Jodi Bain.

New members are joining Jodi Bain on the board, Jeff Hill, Jannie Cox, Tim Bathen, and Jonathan Paton.

"Extremely solid people that have business knowledge," said Bain.

"They're going to be hard nosed accountants and business people," said appointee Jonathan Paton.

But it's Paton's appointment that's causing city leaders to worry.

"I don't come away with a high degree of confidence that these changes will be positive," said council member Steve Kozachik.

Paton has been an outspoken critic of the city.

"All of the problems we see have been created by the city," said Paton.

He helped strip Rio Nuevo from city control in 2009 and now is already pushing for the board to toughen up and demand the city pay up the millions he claims it owes the district in assets.

"I have no qualms about saying what I think is right, we ultimately represent the taxpayers," said Paton.

Councilman Steve Kozachik blames the legislature, not the city, for creating the problems.

He says an agreement on terms was ready to go in December.

"He needs to do his homework because we were ready to sign that, the Rio Nuevo board was too," said Kozachik.

Bain disputes that assertion.

"The term sheet was never a guaranteed thing," said Bain.

But she's excited, and looking forward to working with the new team.

"You have a solid core in all of them of fiscally more conservative people.  And if that means we're going to be in more spicy discussions with the city to get a true business end then that's what may occur," said Bain.

"I don't think we need more spicier conversations we need more productive conversations.  When someone shows up and says the city has been standing in the way of progress.  He needs to rewind that tape and see who really did," said Kozachik.

What's clear tonight is, Rio Nuevo board meetings could get a whole lot more interesting.

The new re-constituted board will meet for the first time on April 13.