Tucson council debate over ward surplus funds

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Anyone driving a car in Tucson is likely to encounter more than a few pot holes.

One council member wants to repair the streets in his ward, but other council members say there's a better way for him to use his funds.

The streets running through the Sam Hughes neighborhood are peppered with pot holes.

Ward 6 council member Steve Kozachik wants to do something about it.

"Because we have about $85,000 left in our budget I would take $75,000 of that and allocate it specifically to residential road repair in our ward. That's what I want to do.  Every town meeting I go to, every neighborhood association meeting I go to, that's what I hear," said Steve Kozachik.

Some council members, such as Ward three's Karen Ulich, believe extra funds from individual wards should go to the general fund.

"We've moved away from earmarking funds or having specific pots of money that are designated by ward and more towards a city-wide approach," said Ward 3 Councilwoman Karen Uhlich.

Uhlich cites the economic downturn as a reason to pool those funds together to address the city's broader needs. Kozachik says he simply ran a tight budget to the benefit of his constituents.

"If the rest of them have been frugal they can spend the money on whatever their constituents are saying," said Kozachik.

Next week, the council will vote on a motion to gather up the extra money in each ward. Sam Hughes residents expressed they just want the streets fixed.

"It's pretty frustrating you know, it's wear and tear on the car," said Eric Fairfield.

Fairfield believes this is a case of a council member looking out for the people he represents.

"That's good of him to see it and then make plans on doing some proper maintenance because it will be twice as much if he doesn't do it," said Fairfield.

Kozachik says next week he will still try to set aside money for those repairs.

Council member Uhlich admits that, in the past, she has used extra funds to pay for specific needs in her ward, but again, she says the economy has changed the way the council uses that money.