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Mar 5, 2013 8:21 PM by Nathan O'Neal

City council discusses $15 million budget gap

TUCSON - City leaders hashed out several options on how to deal with a projected $15 million budget gap at a city council meeting Tuesday.

While revenues have gone up for the City of Tucson, there are some costs that have outpaced that growth, which includes both the growing costs for the city's mass transit system as well as city employee benefits and pension plans.

The city budget director answered council members' questions about how to best come up with a legally ballanced budget for fical year 2014.

Public safety was pointed out as one of the biggest costs to the city budget, including overtime for employees of both police and fire departments.

"So we're trying to attack it in every method possible but part of it is increased work load and some significant events such as the Celis investigation and different events that have cause overtime expenditures," Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor told the city council.

Annother issue that was addressed was that city employees can count vacation and sick time within their 40-hour workweek, something councilmembers insisted could save a hefty chunk of change for the city.

"We were trying to be competitive and pay our employee for the services being rendered but being competative with employers of other cities," said City Manager Richard Molinar.

However, council members collectively acknowledged that the budgeet is an estimate.

"It's not a static item on the budget, it's a dynamic one because people will react to it," said Council member Steve Kozachik.

The city manager has until April 16th to offer up an official budget for the council to consider.

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