by Brian Flagg
How is the City going to balance their budget this year?
I attended yesterday’s City Council meeting along with Kassandra Manriquez and Mary DeCamp and heard City Manager Mike Ortega lay out a menu of spending cuts and tax increases that could fill what he claims is a $25 million budget gap next year. You can see it all online.
Maybe I’m dense and/or delusional, but under the leadership of Mike Ortega things don’t seem as threatening as usual for poor people, especially bus riders. Cuts in bus service up to $2.5 million and up to $1 million in raising fares are on the list. As always, the Mayor is eager to persecute bus riders, according to this morning’s Daily Star.
Councilwoman Karin Uhlich came up with a possible scenario of concentrating on big ticket items such as a Public Utility Tax (worth more than $4 million) and considering many of the proposed cuts to police and fire, in place of the agony of making numerous little cuts affecting numerous constituencies. It seemed she got no pushback from her colleagues.
A highlight of the meeting took place when Councilwoman Regina Romero vehemently pointed out the absurdity of saving $300,000 by cutting 900 kids from the afterschool program known as KIDCO.
City Manager Ortega, in his opening remarks, reminded everyone that some measures that might work for the short term could be very negative for the long term. This would most definitely apply to transit.
This year they need to hold the line on transit, no cuts in service or fare increases (except for the $100,000 they have proposed cutting from the streetcar), then figure out a dedicated funding source for transit. Why trash the award winning system now, which would decrease ridership, and then try to rebuild it later?
The bottom line is that no politicians or bureaucrats are going to do the right thing for poor people, the bus, or the environment unless We the People organize for power.
What do you say bus riders and righteous people of Tucson? Are you ready?