Last week’s daily scramble to save Rio Nuevo is having little impact in the Legislature, where lawmakers are poised to take control of the downtown revitalization project from the city.
The firing of former City Manager Mike Hein, cutting Rio Nuevo director Greg Shelko’s position from the budget as of July 1, and the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District Board’s announcement Friday that it would seek new management and financial management for Rio Nuevo are hitting on deaf ears with the Legislature.
“It’s irrelevant,” state Rep. Frank Antenori, a Tucson Republican said. “We’re going full-speed ahead for a state oversight board.”
State Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, is crafting legislation to either add state-appointed members to the Rio Nuevo board or create a new board with state-appointed members.
“We’re still working on the language,” Paton said. “I’d say we’re not going to have a budget soon.”
Antenori said legislation would focus Rio Nuevo entirely on the Tucson Convention Center expansion and companion hotel.
“No trolley, no Fox Theatre, no Mercado District, no more anything else,” Antenori said. “We gotta get the convention center built.”
The City Council, in the meantime, will consider a resolution Tuesday stating the TCC and its hotel are the top priorities for downtown revitalization, a position the council had already taken March 17.
The Rio Nuevo Board on Friday made its first public hint at changing the intergovernmental agreement that has the city operating the Rio Nuevo district, but no marching orders were issued to Rio Nuevo legal counsel Bill Hicks.
“I have none to speak of,” Hicks said about assigned duties regarding refashioning Rio Nuevo. “It’s at this point an undefined course of action.”
Hicks said “presumably” there would be modifications to the IGA, “but none of that has been discussed.”
The decision to cut the Rio Nuevo director from the fiscal 2010 budget also presumes changes to the agreement, but interim City Manager Mike Letcher said he would get advice from the city attorney about the IGA.
Letcher dismissed notions the city was handing off Rio Nuevo, even though it won’t have a director for day-to-day operations.
“There’s still people in charge,” Letcher said. “I’m in charge.”