M&C REJECTS PROPOSAL TO PHASE OUT SUN VAN LOW INCOME FARE - After a lengthy public hearing last night, M&C voted unanimously to reject a proposed phasing out of the Sun Van low income fare. Under the proposal the fare, currently $1, would have increased to $2 in October, and then to $3 next July. From KOLD/KMSB.
EL CON WALMART OPENS, M&C DROPS OPPOSITION TO LIQUOR LICENSE - M&C voted unanimously yesterday to instruct the City Attorney to offer no objection at an upcoming hearing before the Arizona State Liquor Board to a liquor license application from Walmart for its new store at El Con Mall. The Council had voted in March to recommend disapproval after hearing strong opposition from nearby neighborhoods. As a result of this opposition, in July the Arizona State Liquor Board voted to deny the retailer's application. Walmart has since negotiated terms with the neighborhoods under which they would agree not to oppose its liquor license application. Among these were limits on the hours of liquor sales and an agreement not to sell guns or ammunition. The new Walmart store opened today. Story from the Star here, story from KOLD/KMSB here.
SPAY/NEUTER PROPOSAL WINS M&C SUPPORT, BUT FUNDING MAY HAVE TO WAIT - In an item on yesterday's Study Session agenda, Council Member Steve Kozachik requested that the City provide funding for a non-profit animal spay and neuter program currently funded by Pima County by earmarking $3 of the license fee for spayed and neutered dogs. The program, operated by the Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona (AWASA), provides free spay and neuter services to pet owners in underserved and economically depressed areas. The County, which is encouraging its cities and towns to contribute additional funds to the program, says it has resulted in a drop of nearly 3,000 animals arriving at Pima Animal Care Center in the past two years, which has in turn resulted in fewer animals euthanized and lower costs to taxpayers. If the City were to similarly program $3 per dog of its share of license revenue, the result would be around $130K annually, but funding for this has not been programmed into the current budget. M&C voted to direct staff to explore the possibility of shifting funds within the existing contract between the City and County for animal care services. Story from the Star here, M&C Memo here.
BALLOT INITIATIVE TO DEFEAT MEDICAID EXPANSION FAILS TO GATHER ENOUGH SIGNATURES - A group hoping to stop Arizona officials from expanding the state's Medicaid patient rolls has fallen short of the signatures needed to get the question on the ballot next year. The expansion is part of the federally funded Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. It will add an estimated 300,000 poor Arizonans to the state's health-care program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. From Arizona Public Media.
ADMISSION FEES TO INCREASE AT DESERT MUSEUM - The price of admission at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will soon be increasing by as much as $5 per person. Museum officials say the increased fees, which still need the approval of County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, are expected to generate more than $500,000 in new revenue. From the Star.