Karin's Note: Friday, February 7, 2014

Karin's Note: Friday, February 7, 2014

-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?

Dear Tucsonans,

This week we reviewed the Management team’s projection of a $33M shortfall for the upcoming FY2015 budget. No shortfall could be characterized as good news, but I would say that the projected gap can be closed with reasonable action by our Manager and the Mayor/Council.

First of all, the projection stems from conservative assumptions on revenues (understated) and expenses (overstated), which is always where we should start (i.e. with the worst case scenario). It did not include anticipated RTA “gap funding” for street car operations ($1-2M) or the $1M expected through a new state contract for Van Tran services. Overall revenue growth has been pegged at 5% (vs the state’s projections of 5.7%--which would yield an additional $3M locally). We’ll settle on these and other numbers on the revenue side of the equation over the coming months.

The projection also included expected growth in departmental expenses without any offsets we ought to be able to expect from further savings that departments can and should identify together, particularly at the management/administrative levels. The administration and management of Parks and Recreation offers an example of a place to start with that savings approach. Let me first emphasize that the Department employs close to 500 people; collectively they work hard and offer great service to Tucson. In fact, the average Parks employee deserves a revamp of the management and administration of Parks and Recreation just as I believe the public does.

Here’s a spreadsheet I just compiled, pulling from budget books 2010-2014:



Parks and Recreation Department
                                                              2010 Actual             2014 (Current FY) Budget
Total Budget                                         $46,970,000                             $40,445,000     
Total Admin                                           $ 5,534,000                              $ 4,474,000
Admin Positions (Total Dept )                 52 (592)                                    40 (497)   

General Services

Total Budget                                          $49,218,000                             $58,921,000
Total Admin                                            $     750,000                             $     771,000
Admin Positions (Total Dept)                       7 (324)                                      7 (229)     

Tucson Fire

Total Budget                                           $82,734,000                             $94,023,000
Total Admin                                             $  1,061,000                             $  1,150,000
Admin Positions (Total Dept)                  11 (732.5)                                    10 (753)   

So according to our own budget documents, Parks and Recreation carries administrative and management expenses four times that our Fire Department and almost six times that of General Services. I shouldn’t have to dig and recalculate for days to get at this truth as a Council Member; and you can bet I won’t be supporting the usual approach to budgeting now that these kinds of patterns have become clearer to me.

The Manager is absolutely on the right track in demanding that the City squeeze expenses from the top and middle of the organizational chart rather than at the ground/services level. Within certain departments, and across common functions that are embedded in multiple departments, there can be significant savings identified. I would suggest that before we fill any more management or administrative positions in the City we first consider reassigning people already in our organization with the skills we need to the areas they’re most needed. I would also expect us to reevaluate every consulting contract to be sure any outside expertise being paid for does not exist in any corner of any City agency first. We may need specialists from time to time; but we better be leveraging all of the managerial and administrative talent we’ve hired over the years before we approve any costs that burden our delivery of services.

I met with the Manager last week. He and I quickly began rattling off a similar list of specific administrative and functional expenses that concern us. I know he’s been working with our Executive Leadership Team (ELT-Department Directors) with the expectation that they will provide concrete plans that will impact our FY2015 budget and beyond. On Tuesday I asked that the Manager’s planned budget presentation include a specific accounting of those savings and strategies identified for implementation during FY2015.

Budgeting and operating in silos can obscure important patterns. Parks and Recreation might not even be the best example and I doubt it’s the only one. It’s the Manager’s job to push these improvements as far as we possibly can. I applaud him for insisting that we revamp as a whole entity, demanding that priority be given to the on-the-ground services our community pays for us to deliver. These patterns didn’t all start under the current ELT’s watch, but this is the team that can identify real breakthroughs in order to serve our City better.

Ward 3 Investments

Look for some new improvements across Ward 3 in the coming months! The Campbell Avenue landscaped medians south of Grant will soon be extended north between Grant and Fort Lowell, along with other beautiful improvements. By fall, Grant Road between Mountain and Country Club will be repaved with funds made available by the Pima Association of Governments (above and beyond the City’s bond-funded street-paving work slated).

Vanguard private sector partners have also recently chosen Ward 3 for investment. This month Literacy Connects announced the planned relocation of their headquarters to the Amphi Neighborhood (NE of Stone and Fort Lowell Avenues). This will bring valuable site and infrastructure improvements to the area, as well as the service of dozens of agency staff members and hundreds of volunteers. Literacy Connects provides Tucsonans a full range of high-impact learning opportunities from birth through adulthood, including reading, computer skills, English acquisition and artistic self-expression. You can learn more at http://literacyconnects.org/ . My staff and I can’t wait to officially welcome Literacy Connects to Ward 3. I hope you’ll consider getting involved in the literacy movement, too!



Ward 3 Events:

-Free Tax Help – The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program once again opens at the Ward 3 Council Office (in the Community Room) on Tuesday, February 11 at 1:00 p.m.  1510 E. Grant Road.  Volunteers will be at this location each Tuesday through April 15 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon beginning February 15 through April 12. Volunteers will prepare tax returns free of charge to eligible low-income families and individuals. No appointment necessary, clients are taken on a first-come, first served basis. Those wishing to receive assistance must bring a picture I.D. and original social security card for each family member, proof of income, including W2 and 1099 forms, documentation of deductible expenses, prior year tax return if possible, and account routing numbers for those wanting to have direct deposit of refunds.


-5th Annual Tucson Sculpture Festival – The Art Gallery, 1122 N. Stone. The art will be on display there and at the Sculpture Resource Center, 640 N. Stone, through February 15. Both galleries will be open 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All events are free, proceeds from the sale of art will benefit BICAS, who will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary and raising money to get their own building.  

-Emmett, Down in My Heart – Tucson Symphony Center, 2175 N. 6th Avenue. This award winning play, sponsored by The Tucson Alliance of Dramatic Artists (TADA!), in association with Tucson Juneteenth Festival presents a special world premiere, in honor of Black History Month. The play is the story of Emmett Till, an African American teenager brutally murdered in 1955. Performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. February 22 through March 8. Sunday matinees on February 23 and March 1 and 9 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $20/adults, $15/students and seniors. Preview Friday, February 21/$15. Reservations: 520-722-9553 or email: theDrektor@gmail.com


Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s):


-The Oracle Project Steering Committee (TOPS)—Tuesday, February 11 at 5:30 p.m. TPD Westside substation, 1310 W. Miracle Mile

-Alvernon/Grant Initiative (AGI/TNBC)—Tuesday, February 11 at 6:00 p.m. Emerge! 2425 N. Haskell

-Campus Community Relations Committee (CCRC)—Tuesday, February 11 at 6:00 p.m. U of A Student Union.


Citywide Events:


- Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood 32nd La Reunion De El Fuerte – Saturday, February 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  This walking tour celebration of the neighborhood's historic sites meanders from Fort Lowell Park westward along Fort Lowell Road to the San Pedro Chapel, through the historic neighborhood known as El Fuerte (The Fort).  Start your day there at 10 a.m. with an Arizona Territories Vintage Baseball League game between the Bisbee Black Sox and the Tucson Sahuaros on the baseball field at Fort Lowell Park. While you're in the park, be sure to visit the Fort Lowell Museum. From Noon to 4 p.m. enjoy the free walking tour. The day will also include 2 mariachi groups "Trio Gala" and "Mariachi Tesoro," Folklorico dancing, flower making in the Adobe House, pizza, salads and soft drinks provided by Vero Amore and book store hours noon to 4:00 PM.  Free admission.

-Household Hazardous Waste Program 2nd Saturday Collection - Saturday, February 8 at the El Rio Center, 1390 W. Speedway Blvd. from 8 a.m. to noon. Drop off of HHW is free for residents.  Accepted materials include: Automotive fluids, auto and rechargeable batteries from electronics equipment, toxic cleaning products, fluorescent lamps, paints, solvents, lawn and garden products, and computer equipment ($2 for monitors without computer). The program only accepts materials generated in homes, no commercially-generated materials are accepted. More information is available on-line at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/es/household-hazardous-waste, by downloading the  my-waste App or by calling ES Customer Service at 791-3171. Contact: Cristina Polsgrove at 520-837-3715.

-60th Annual Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase – February 1 through 16 at over 50 venues throughout Tucson, with the finale held at the Tucson Convention Center between Feb 14 and16. Over 55,000 people will be in town for this event. Best way to get around? Gem Ride! This free shuttle system connects convenient parking with the shows around Tucson. Hop on or off the shuttle at any of the 29 stops on 4 routes. 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily. Routes and info here.  For more general information on the showcase, please visit https://www.visittucson.org/visit/events/featured-tucson/tucson-gem-mineral-fossil-showcase


-Sustainable Tucson Meeting – “Is Your Neighborhood Ready for Climate Change?” – Monday, February 10 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Joel Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room, 101 N. Stone. Free lower level parking off Alameda. Speakers from Pima County Public Health, Neighborhood Support Network, Building Resilient Neighborhoods group will be present.


- Tour of the Los Reales Landfill and the ReCommunity, Inc. Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) – February 14 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  Tour participants will meet in the upper level parking lot at 4004 S. Park Avenue.  The tour is not for children younger than age, and is available on a first come basis. To reserve a seat, call ES at 791-3175 by Tuesday, February 12, 2014.  More information is available in the “Did you Know” section below.


-32nd Annual Peace Fair & Music Festival – Saturday, February 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Reid Park Bandshell. This year’s theme: Climate Justice. Join us for this free event with live music, food, entertainment and activities for children. More info: 445-4110 or www.TucsonPeaceCalendar.org


Did You Know...?

…that last year Cyclovia Tucson's two events drew 25,000 people? Participants poured out into the streets to reconnect with neighbors, explore the city, dance together, and meet new people. This year there will be two  Cyclovia events as well -- on Sundays April 6th (through South Tucson) and November 2nd (through Ward 3), both from 10 am to 3 pm. More info available here.  You're invited to participate!   If you have questions or need more information, or if you'd like to take part in the planning, please email info@cycloviatucson.org.

…that the City of Tucson Economic Initiatives staff has been working on finalizing the "Downtown Entertainment District."? Currently, certain types of liquor licenses such as those for Restaurants and Hotels/Motels are able to locate next to any church or school throughout the City.  House Bill 2596 (2010) allows for Cities, on a case by case basis to approve the location of additional types of liquor licenses only if they are located in an Entertainment District. Public outreach was done in 2010 and 2011, and staff is reactivating the process with an Open House to gather final stakeholder input in regards to the proposed boundaries. The Open House is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 310 N. Commerce Park Loop, Sentinel Building. For more information, or to get a copy of the boundaries emailed to you, please contact Camila Martins-Bekat, at City Economic Development Office at (520) 837-4078 or email her at Camila.Bekat@tucsonaz.gov.

…that the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation presents a 2014 walking tour series exploring the historic fabric of our community?  Each month from January through May, a walking tour will examine the geography, key people, and the decisions they took that have shaped the city we know and love.  For more information, go to https://preservetucson.org/.