I went to the first ever Tucson “Community Key Services Dialogue” meeting tonight. (subtitled-Working Together to Set City Budget Priorities). There are some ideas here that have merit and some that well, don’t. It is important that people do get involved in their community and I am proud of all of the folks that took an evening out of their busy lives and attended this meeting.
It was a evening of lively round table discussion panels, budget pie charts on PowerPoint presentations, city council types and almost as many reporters as “regular folk”.
The evening started with each of 7 tables listing what they liked most about Tucson. Some of the usual favorites were “our weather”, “our mountains”, “our diversity” and “our small town feel”. Then each table listed some of the improvements they would like to see. These included improved streets, higher wages, affordable housing, limiting the amount of taxes levied and making our city government more accountable.
Then people got down to work. Each table was asked to sit down and discuss what services they used now and why; which services we would suggest being kept and how could we pay for those services, and how to pay for programs and services that would insure the growth of Tucson for years to come.
Each round table had their spokesperson come up and share what ideas they had developed while the breathless media rolled tape. Some of these ideas included:
Investing in Energy Technology, A light rail system, more hi-tech jobs.
Improving the city’s website. Make Tucson wireless.
A 1% pay-cut per every $10k of income for all city employees.
Hiring a community organizer (at $35K) to rally neighborhoods.
Have government handle the city’s infrastructure and have residents handle social issues.
Promoting volunteerism by utilizing the unemployed.
A city tax on gasoline.
A luxury tax.
A tax on fast food.
This was the first of several “town -hall” meetings that are scheduled. Seven more meeting are scheduled for the month of October. Details are found here. I have to give the city officials credit for reaching out and looking for input from our community. Like them or not, the ideas that have been presented to city officials are what they will use to move Tucson forward. City manager Mike Letcher and friends are listening. Better make sure that your voice is being heard by them and we hold them accountable.
From a mutual friend who attended the meeting, she posted on FB:
Each table had a facilitator and several council members and the manager were all there. They wanted to stop construction or at least up the impact fees on all those rich ba……ds who buy new houses. someone said we needed more multimillionaires so I said we could advertise for some on Craig’s List. They want free concerts, free wifi, and more investment in neighborhoods because that is the backbone of society. One guy wants to annex the foothills and everyone though that was a terrific idea until I explained that then we would have to provide services so we’d probably end up negative cash flow. Then someone said to raise the sales tax AND the property taxes. Another said to raise the fees on water and utilities so I told her they had already done that in July.
Again, make sure that YOU get to a meeting.