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Feb 5, 2014 7:29 PM by Sam Salzwedel

Tucson faces $33 million budget gap

TUCSON - The city is estimating a $33 million budget gap going into the next fiscal year.

City Manager Richard Miranda said most of the problems can be solved through reorganization of administrative services.

"We don't want to use one-time remedies to remedy the situation," Miranda said. "We haven't made any final decisions as to what's going to go or what's going to stay."

The total city budget is about $1.3 billion, but the General Fund is only about $447.4 million. About half of the General Fund goes to police and fire.

Miranda does not think the city will cut public safety, but the police and fire chiefs will bring suggestions in the next couple weeks.

"The charge of government is to provide some basic service delivery," Miranda said. "That's water, fire, police, transportation. Those issues that people see every single day."

City Councilman Paul Cunningham does not think the Council will support cuts to police and fire protection.

"There are about 45 different options that will be out there," Cunningham said. "Anywhere from changes in transit to taking a look at how we're watering parks. There are all these different things we can do before anything else."

For years, the city has faced budget problems but always balanced the books.

"There's no reason to panic yet," Cunningham said. "We have to really take a look at how we work. The last 3 years we've been under budget. This is nothing like a few years ago when we were looking at a budget deficit, 56, 57 million dollars with every accounting trick in the book."

The fiscal year starts July 1. Miranda will submit a recommended budget in April.

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