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Budget, union pay concessions on council agenda

When the Tucson City Council was briefed on changes to the city manager’s recommended budget last week, members held their questions.

“I think we’re saving them for next week,” Councilwoman Nina Trasoff said with a smile.

Tuesday will be the big day. After weeks of budget talks, the council will finally have a completed budget to reference.

They’ll also have copies of a five-year plan for infrastructure improvements.

The first of three public hearings on the budget is set for April 28 at the Tucson Convention Center.

Part of the council’s talks Tuesday will center on employee union concessions worth about $5 million.

The sum is the result of increased health insurance co-pays and deductibles, frozen uniform allowances, furloughs, changes in supplemental pay and pension contributions and no merit or cost-of-living pay increases.

The changes were laid out in an April 14 memo from Human Resources Director Cindy Bezaury to Acting City Manager Mike Letcher.

Furloughs, announced about a month ago with a 12-day total, were shortened to five days and will not affect police or firefighters, according to the memo.

Former City Manager Mike Hein had set a $10 million goal for concessions from unions. Hein was fired April 7 amid questions about how the budget was being compiled.

Trasoff, who voted to keep Hein, sent a memo Monday asking that the council talk about how to replace him.

Among the issues she proposed discussing were whether to do a national search, how to time the recruitment and whether to ask Letcher, formerly Hein’s deputy manager, to stay past his planned retirement date at the end of November.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council is expected to approve measures that would make all public safety employees eligible for five one-year extensions beyond a mandatory retirement age of 65. An application from Police Officer Steve Smith to work another year is on the consent agenda.

A public hearing is scheduled to discuss whether the Environmental Services Department, whose fees are supposed to cover its costs, can charge less per pound of garbage to certain haulers if they pledge to deliver a certain amount of trash.

Private landfill operator Waste Management opened a transfer station last year near the city-owned Los Reales Landfill that has siphoned trash away, leaving the department with a budget shortfall that may result in a fee increase.

The city has seen a 40 percent drop-off in trash brought to Los Reales this fiscal year compared with the year before, according to a memo from Letcher to the council. Revenue from the landfill pays for the future costs and liabilities of closing the landfill, and maintenance on 22 other city dumps, the memo states.



What: City Council meeting

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

When: 2 p.m. study session, 5:30 regular session

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