May 21, 2014 1:41 AM by Sean Mooney

Crunch time for Tucson City Council on new budget

TUCSON - It's crunch time for the Tucson's Mayor and City Council. The latest city council meeting was all about crunching the final numbers for the city's 2015 budget with the total figure just over $1.2 billion.

The Tucson City Council thought their work was done but news they received before the meeting put the brakes on. $2.4 million was the remaining amount council members thought they needed to account for before signing off on the 2015 budget. That amount was supposed to be covered by a onetime land sale, but the council was informed that that money has already been allotted for the modern street car.

Initial cuts targeted Sun Tran, specifically the city's busses, with possible changes to routes and a hike in fares. Several options were discussed including other land sales to make up the difference.

Tucson City Council Member, Paul Cunningham says fares could still go up but not by much, "If there is any kind of fare increase it won't be more than about 10 percent, you're talking maybe a nickel a day, so I don't think we are going to see anything drastic."

The bus riders union was out in force at the meeting. Bus Riders Union member, Jimmy Ojeda, says the problem isn't a lack of riders, "If there were more busses, a better transit system, we would have a lot more people on the bus, we want people to ride because they want to ride, not because they have to."

But at the meeting the council found a path to making all the numbers work, deciding to add $1.2 million on to the total budget and making up the rest with another one time land sale totaling $1.5 million.

Tucson City Council Member, Karin Uhlich, says she believes they are getting close to the finish line, "We are very close, being able to balance the capital needs, one time revenues to cover one time costs, a couple of line items here and there but we are very close I think."

The city's total budget now stands at $1.624 billion dollars. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for June 3rd. Paul Cunningham said the council is hoping to have a final vote by October 1st.


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