April 12–A projected $624,000 budget deficit has the South Tucson City Council considering the possibility of laying off all its firefighters or police officers.
Officials said they would look to contract with another agency or agencies to handle court services, patrol city streets and provide other emergency services in the one-square-mile city — hopefully at a cheaper cost than what the city is spending now.
City Manager Sixto Molina said the city is refusing to throw up the white flag as it struggles to continue offering services while revenue, specifically sales taxes, continues to dwindle. The city has failed to meet projected sales tax revenues in nine of the last 10 years.
Options such as cutting city employees’ pay and requiring job furloughs would not be enough to offset the budget deficit, Molina said.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he would be open to exploring a new agreement with South Tucson to take over court services, but ruled out the possibility of Pima County sheriff’s deputies patrolling the city. Huckelberry said he is trying to reduce costs at the sheriff’s department, which has a history of being over budget.
South Tucson already contracts with the county for animal control services as well as the housing of inmates in the county jail.
Tucson City Manager Mike Ortega said he hasn’t discussed the possibility of contracting with South Tucson to provide services, but said any formal proposal would be decided by the Tucson City Council. The city of Tucson now provides residential trash services to South Tucson and bills customers directly.
Less than two years ago, Waste Management severed ties with South Tucson in a dispute over $300,000 in unpaid debts for garbage collection. South Tucson was able to avoid a costly legal fight and agreed to a $140,000 settlement paid over several years…
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