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Council balks at approving cuts

Citizen Staff Writer



The Tucson City Council mulled budget cuts for almost 2 1/2 hours Tuesday but put off decisions, especially about layoffs.

Directors of departments financed primarily by dramatically lower-than-expected sales tax receipts sketched futures that included consolidations, service reductions and a “leaner staff.”

Conversations in the city employee-packed chambers bounced from proposed 12-day furloughs to suggested layoffs and back again as the council grappled with numbers and necessities.

Some members cautioned against making cuts that would hurt the city when the economy rebounded.

City Manager Mike Hein said he didn’t anticipate a recovery any time soon. “I don’t see us rebounding,” he said. “I don’t see us growing.”

Hein said a proposal to make about 30 layoffs mostly in development-related departments was motivated not only by economics, but by a drive for efficiency.

Of a furlough-only plan designed to avoid layoffs, he said, “I’m not sure it would be the best approach.”

City officials are talking with labor groups about the details of the cutbacks Hein recommended earlier this month.

Fred Gray, who directs the Parks & Recreation Department, outlined a plan that included shortening the summer swimming season by three weeks, closing three pools, nearly eliminating the department’s part-time staff, cutting adult sports leagues in half and eliminating as many as 40 leisure classes. Maintenance will likely be affected, as will events, he said.

Transportation Director Jim Glock said to expect less street sweeping, pothole filling and replacements. Major roads, however, will be repaved and major projects will go forward.

The police and fire chiefs, whose departments would not be hit by furloughs or layoffs, said they could meet spending targets without cutting basic services. The council will discuss the budget each week until April. Tuesday’s talks will cover departments whose fees are to cover their costs such as Environmental Services and Tucson Water.

City manager: Furloughs likely would not be enough

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