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City to discuss slashing social service funding

Citizen Staff Writer



City contributions to local charities, social service agencies and other nonprofits could be cut by nearly 30 percent next fiscal year and City Council members are preparing for the expected protests.

A $2 million cut in funding to the agencies last fall prompted a protest and furious calls to council members, many of whom count social service agencies among their top supporters and allies.

City officials have to come up with another $30 million of cuts to close the shortfall in next fiscal year’s general operating budget.

That makes another chop at “outside agency funding” imminent. The topic is slated for council discussion, but not a decision, on Tuesday.

The agencies are to receive a collective $13.9 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30, spread among 33 groups, according to a spreadsheet attached to the agenda item.

The recipients of the largest chunks were the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau at $4.2 million, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities at $1.5 million and Pima County Animal Control Center at $1.3 million. The smallest amount, $1,800, went to the Old Time Fiddle Contest.

The spreadsheet includes question marks for each line item in the fiscal year 2010 column but shows the column total at $9.94 million, an almost 30 percent change from this year’s sum.

The council also will review a list of free or below-market city leases some of the groups enjoy.

About 50 of the 662 leases the city administers go for less than the market rate, according to a city report. Many groups pay $1 a year. The lease subsidies are not part of the city’s funding calculation.

There’s another political lightning rod on Tuesday’s agenda: impact fees, paid by developers to cover infrastructure costs.

The task force assigned to recommend local economic stimulus measures – with a waiver or deferral of impact fees chief among the earlier suggestions – is scheduled to present its findings to the council.

A proposal from Councilwoman Regina Romero to reduce the burden on developers by giving them longer to pull permits on approved plans is also slated for talks. Developers now have one year to act on plans; under the proposal, they would have three years, or longer for projects to be built in phases.

Council will discuss slashing social service funding

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