Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Huckelberry: Health, parks departments will face big cuts

Citizen Staff Writer



The Pima County Health Department faces up to a 15 percent cut in next year’s budget and the county’s park department up to a 20 percent cut, under orders by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

“The county faces unprecedented times of fiscal distress, particularly related to local and state revenues,” Huckelberry told supervisors in a recent memorandum.

“State and local revenue sources continue to deteriorate with no sign of recovery.”

The Legislature made deep cuts last month to help offset a projected $1.6 billion deficit.

A $3 billion state budget deficit is forecast for the 2009-10 budget cycle, which likely will result in more cuts at the local government level, Huckelberry said.

Huckelberry has directed other departments to prepare for major budget reductions for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The cuts would hit at the worst possible time, Dennis W. Douglas, Pima County Health Department director, told Huckelberry in a Jan. 21 memorandum.

“The department is beginning to see the effect of the economic downturn in the increasing number of clients and families seeking public health services,” Douglas said.

Department staffers have a plan to cut about $1.4 million, which would include leaving vacant 16 of 370 funded positions and reallocating some staff to programs funded by grants, Douglas said.

Patti Woodcock, community relations director for the department, said Thursday the department’s projected general fund allocation for fiscal year 2009-10, which begins July 1, would be about $8.2 million, down from the current $9.6 million.

The overall department budget, about $27.2 million this fiscal year, is slated to be reduced to about $25.3 million. About 68 percent of the overall budget is funded through grants and service fees.

Fees for services likely will have to be raised across the board, Woodcock said.

Such fee increases – totalling about $1.38 million – would likely range from 10 percent to 30 percent, depending on the service.

The fee increases represent one alternative to cutting major services and programs.

“We’re trying to do everything we can not to eliminate services,” Woodcock said.

Douglas worried that the unforeseen – such as a major disease outbreak, natural disaster or terror-related incident – could severely test the department’s ability to adequately respond after such deep cuts.

The Pima County Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation Department would suffer the biggest percent reduction of all county departments.

The department has an approximately $16 million budget for the current fiscal year.

“Our budget is due in by Friday,” Rafael Payan, director of the county department, said Thursday.

It will be up to the supervisors to provide direction on which facilities and programs will eventually be cut for the coming fiscal year, Payon said.

Layoffs also are included in Payan’s review of the department finances.

About 60 department employees could lose their jobs, Payan said. The department currently has about 300 full-time employees, he added.

Some further cuts could be avoided with fee increases for programs and facilities use, such as the county shooting range and sports teams’ rental of lighted fields, he said.

About $150,000 could be saved by closing the Pima County Plant Nursery, Payan wrote in a 17-page memorandum to Huckelberry on Jan. 29.

The Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation Department is funded with general fund money. Its programs are not legally mandated, as are services provided by law enforcement, the courts, and criminal justice.

Severe cutbacks in available facilities and programs during economically difficult times would remove recreational opportunities when public demand might increase, Payon said.

“It’s ironic because parks are one of the few things out there that are free or low cost,” Payan said.

Pima County health, parks departments face big cuts in 2009-10 budget

Considered for closure


• Catalina Regional Park

• The A7 Ranch: Close and sell off cattle herd at auction to raise about $250,000

• Ironwood Picnic Area: Close and redirect public to two nearby picnic areas

• Raúl M. Grijalva: Canoa Ranch Conservation Park: Close until next bond election

• Ted Walker Park: Closure would affect youth leagues

Three community centers could be closed and/or transferred to other jurisdictions.

• Joan Swetland Community Center in Sahuarita: Could be transferred to town of Sahuarita

• Lew Sorenson Community Center: Tanque Verde School District could locate a junior high school on the site

• Rillito

Vista Community Center: Not heavily used but home to several programs for disadvantaged youth

Possible parks fee increases

• Use of lighted sports fields: From $5 per hour to $10 per hour

• Shooting range: From $3 per day to $6 per day

• Environmental education classes: From no fees to $5 per class

Possible public health fee increases

• Communicable disease prevention

• Family planning

• Consumer health and food safety

• Vital records

• Animal care services

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

Search site | Terms of service