Tentative Tucson budget plan includes deeper cuts

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Tucson city budget has been a struggle to balance in recent years. City employees had to deal with furlough days and reduced overtime to make up for shortfalls.

Tuesday the city manager will present council a tentative 2011-2012 budget plan.

This time around, the cuts will be more noticeable to the average person.

The city's budget woes have been a long time coming, but after the core service tax failed to pass last November, city leaders had to take some drastic measures to cut costs.

"None of the choices were easy and everybody's priorities are different based on what's important to them," said CFO Kelly Gottschalk.

The 2011- 2012 budget plan Tucson Chief Financial Officer Kelly Gottschalk helped prepare includes cuts to services visible to citizens; a $10 million cut from police, $5 million from fire and $3 million from Parks and Rec.

"We really went through and looked at where can we afford to not do what we were doing in the past," said Gottschalk.

Some agencies won't see cuts in the new budget, such as outside non profits that received very little last year.

And transportation, will actually see an increase in funding from $37 million to $39 million.

At least one council member opposes that.

"My big push tomorrow will be lets treat all of our core services at some level equitably.  If we could cut 15 million from public safety, surely we can find a few million to take out of transit," said council member Steve Kozachik.

Steve Kozachik plans to request a 5% cut in transportation funding.

"I would agree to roll some of that money into a road repair," said Kozachik.

That idea would help one thing lacking in this proposed budget, city maintenance.

"We have increased potholes.  That I'm sure everybody has noticed, the litter," said Gottschalk.

And Gottschalk fears what that could mean for Tucson's image in years to come.

If no changes to the proposed budget are made at Tuesday's meeting, council members will tentatively adopt it.

But the public will get a chance to weigh in at a couple public hearings later this month.

The council will take a final vote in early June.