Tucson closer to adopting budget

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's been a long and difficult road, but Tuesday night city council pushed one step closer to adopting its 2011-2012 budget.

Council voted to tentatively adopt the budget, but the vote wasn't unanimous.

Councilman Steve Kozachik thought more could be done.

"So, I'm gonna make a few motions, might as well get them done now," said Kozachik.

He proposed new motions. Not once, twice or thrice, but four times.  Each time ended in silence.

But the silence around the table didn't last long.

Kozachik wanted cuts to transportation. The only department untouched in the newest proposal, but council made sure it wasn't going to happen.

"How do you propose to do that, by laying people off, by cutting routes? How do we do that," asked Councilwoman Regina Romero.

"I'm going to stand by the fact, people would rather wait 10 minutes for a bus than 10 minutes for a paramedic," said Kozachik.

"You can have the last word, and I'm sure you will, but I take offense, quite frankly, to the notion that anybody will have to wait 10 additional minutes for police and fire response when that is far from the truth," said Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.

That afternoon debate set the stage for an evening vote for tentative approval of the budget.

"I'm not gonna support it because of those disagreements," said Kozachik. 

"It's inevitable that there will be some disagreement," said Uhlich.

But Councilwoman Karin Uhlich says she's proud of the budget framework. She says public safety cuts could have been worse and overall the taxpayer has been protected.

It was a last ditch effort by Kozachik.   One that didn't go unnoticed.

The tentative budget proposal includes $15 million cuts in public safety and $3 million from Parks and Rec.

The city also plans to restructure over $9.5 millions worth of debt.

The public will get a chance to chime in before the council makes its final approval at the end of the month.