Apr 23, 2013 8:43 PM by Lorraine Rivera
TUCSON - Tucson City Council members have begun reviewing the budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
The proposal is a $1.2 billion plan with a $15 million deficit, however city officials say it's the lowest deficit in recent history.
Among the measures are a $.55 per hour increase for every employee, a proposal that could cost the city $5 million.
Councilman Steve Kozachik said, "we can't pretend we've got money we don't have. The mortgage is due, we got the car payment, little Susie needs braces and our second kid is about to go off to college next year. Taking on more debt right now is just not responsible."
A point that Councilman Paul Cunningham agreed with.
"We just borrowed $13 million this year to balance so I don't know how we're saying that we got money to do this," he said.
Among the discussion was how to pay for the raise, Councilwoman Uhlich said to Kozachik that it was offensive to suggest that the raises might call for furloughs, "to suggest that our employees are lining us up for a budget that is going to line us up for furloughs is ridiculous."
Dozens of Tucson Police personnel who are members of the union turned out for Tuesday's first public hearing on the proposed budget.
Also discussed at Tuesday's council meeting was how to meet the increasing needs of SunTran and SunVan while not immediately raising fares. Among the measures being proposed, eliminating holiday service and possibly cutting the number of routes offered.
Councilwoman Regina Romero said it was too early in the discussion to reach any conclusions, "we don't know what the potential impact is to individuals and them getting to work and back. We are saving more than saving more than $382,000 with potential of bringing in more than $200,000 with advertisements. That's half a million dollars." Romero was referring to a plan that would sell ads on buses, and bring in extra revenue.
The mayor and council are tentatively scheduled to approve the budget on Tuesday, May 21.