City Manager Mike Letcher, City Budget Director Marie Nemerguth, and Core Services Tax Advisory Committee Co-Chair Jaime Gutierrez will be present to answer questions.
When: Wednesday, August 11 from 6-8pm
Where: El Pueblo Senior Center
101 W. Irvington Rd. (near SW corner of 6th Avenue)
More info: call Council offices Ward 1 at 791-4040, Ward 3 at 791-4711, and Ward 5 at 791-4231.
On the Nov. 2 ballot is Proposition 400 to increase the city sales tax by .5% (half a cent) to pay for so-called core services: police, fire, parks and recreation centers and programs, street repair and the courts. The City of Tucson is facing a projected $40 million shortfall. The Mayor/Council (by a 5-2 vote on July 7, Councilmembers Paul Cunningham & Steve Kozachik voting no) thought this was reasonable to ask the voters to decide on how to continue to function at the same level, and whether a sales tax increase is merited.
Text of Proposition 400 – “Proposed amendment to the Tucson Charter referred by Mayor and Council relating to increasing the authorized upper limit of the City’s Business Privilege Tax (“Sales Tax”) from 2% to 2.5% for a period of 5 years and dedicating the portion over 2% to maintaining and preserving staffing and programs for Public Safety Services, Transportation Services including maintenance of City streets, and Parks and Recreation facilities and programs.”
But also on the ballot will be Proposition 401, a City Charter proposal to increase the Mayor’s salary from $42,000 to approximately $82,000 per year, and Council Members’ salaries would increase from $24,000 to approximately $62,000 per year.
This was done to match the salaries of the full-time County Supervisors.
These Mayor/Council positions are supposedly part time jobs. Voters have not supported smaller pay increases in the past during better economic times, and Tucson is not a high wage city. (According to the 2000 Census, the median income for a household in Tucson was $30,981, and the median income for a family was $37,344, hopefully a lot more in the 2010 Census recently taken.)
This proposal to put these measures on the ballot was narrowly passed by the Mayor & Council on July 7 (4-3 vote with Councilmembers Romero, Uhlich, Fimbres voting no). At that meeting Councilmembers Fimbres, Romero, and Kozachik expressed concern about these large pay raises, to be coupled with 3 other Charter changes in the same proposition– the power of the Mayor, election cycles for Council elections to concurrent terms, and hiring/firing authority of the City Manager.
Text of Proposition 401 – “Proposed amendment to the Tucson Charter referred by Mayor and Council relating to providing the Mayor with equal voting authority as the members of the Council; designating specified officers of the City as employees outside of the classified, civil service; providing that the salary of the Mayor be 100%, and the salary of the Councilmembers 80%, of the salary of the Pima County Board of Supervisors; and eliminating staggered elections of the Mayor and Councilmembers beginning in 2013.”
After that vote, Ward 6 Councilmember Steve Kozachik sent out an email on July 13, saying he would decline the pay increase (if it passes) with this proviso:
“From a personal perspective, if the salary increases are approved, I will not accept the increase but will continue to serve on Council at the current salary level as long as I retain my position with the University. Adopting such a significant salary increase at this time strikes me as being insensitive to the budget cuts we have made, and will continue to have to make. The increases will need to fall under the existing Council office budgets. Cutting back on my staff would have a negative impact on constituent service and that is not an option I find acceptable. I want to make clear, though, that other Council Members may not have the benefit of a second income as I do. Each of us will have to weigh our own personal circumstances and gauge accordingly if the measure is adopted by the voters.”
Let’s hear from the other Councilmembers about their proposed pay increase.
And attend this core tax town hall to hear why the proposal to increase the City sales tax may be needed.