Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Water, Rio Nuevo on council’s agenda

The City Council has extended its study session portion of the weekly meeting to deal with numerous items that have been mounting over the past two months.

Among the items are the city budget, water rates and a review of hiring policies that would limit the city’s search for a new police chief.

Another item on the agenda will be a discussion of accountability and transparency in the city’s Rio Nuevo project.

A hearing also will be held during the council’s regular session Tuesday evening to gather public comment on a proposal to annex Raytheon Missile Systems, a move which could lead to the annexation of the nearby Tucson International Airport.

The council is expected to discuss possible ways to balance the city budget that could include cutting contributions to social service programs.

According to previous documents and discussions, cuts to outside agencies for the fiscal year beginning July 1 could total almost $4 million.

City departments such as Parks & Recreation and Transportation have been providing city officials with proposals that include scaling back services and cutting city jobs.

The city also will be looking at the financial plan for Tucson Water, one of the three city departments that does not rely on sales taxes to operate.

Water officials are proposing a 10 percent water rate increase to help meet the 2010 fiscal year budget expectations.

The rate increase would begin on July 6 and the plan calls for another 10 percent rate increase for the 2011 fiscal year with subsequent 8.1 percent annual increases for three years after that.

The increases would make up revenue shortfalls that city officials say were caused by a decline in new home construction and usage patterns over the past two years. Water conservation programs also have caused a decline in water rate revenues.

Other measures being taken to make up for the overall budget shortfall include 12-day furloughs for employees and a hiring freeze for some vacant positions.

Rio Nuevo discussions will center around a memo sent by Councilwomen Regina Romero and Karin Uhlich calling for greater fiscal responsibility for the special taxing district.

The memo recommends separating the finances and management of the district from regular city business. The discussion comes in the wake of a decision by the city to suspend the council’s Rio Nuevo subcommittee earlier this week.

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IF YOU GO

• What: City Council meeting

• Where: Council Chambers in City Hall, 255 W. Alameda St.

• When: Study session begins at 1 p.m. and regular session begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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