Friday, September 17, 2010

Yes on 400 Coalition Update

Yes on 400 Coalition Unites Police, 
Firefighters and Community Leaders

Tucson’s economic crisis is real. A diverse coalition of community organizations and citizens want to Keep Tucson First when it comes to safety, quality of life and economic development and has formed to support Proposition 400, a half-cent sales tax increase that will raise $40 million a year for five years. The temporary tax was recommended by an independent committee that spent two months analyzing the budget and previous cuts. The funds will be dedicated to city departments for public safety, parks and recreation and transportation, including street maintenance and graffiti removal. The funds will be audited by an independent citizens commission.

Tucson’s economy has always been fueled by growth. The economic crisis caused a $70 million reduction in construction sales taxes, sales taxes on goods and services and State-shared revenues. City staffing levels were slashed 20 percent over the past four years with current staffing at 1998 levels. All city employees have taken a 3.5 percent salary cut for the past two years in the form of 9 furlough days and pay more on health and benefits.

Roger Tamietti, a 26-year firefighter, says he’s never seen the City in a worse budget crisis. He warned that deep cuts would have to be made if Prop 400 fails. “Cuts will include 224 commissioned police officers and 150 commissioned firefighters,” he said. “Tucson can’t afford not to pass Prop 400.”

Coalition members said cuts would also affect Parks, Parks and Recreation’s KIDCO after-school program, prosecution for code violations pertaining to weedy lots, junk cars, zoning and neighborhood preservation and even deeper cuts to graffiti abatement. “We’ve cut to the bone,” said Eva Carrillo Dong, a Sunnyside School Board member and Chair of the coalition. “We believe that investing 50 cents for every $100 you spend in Tucson is a fair price to pay to keep Tucson a No. 1 city.” Groceries are exempted from the tax increase.

A partial list of coalition members includes:
Tucson Police Officers Association
Tucson Fire Fighters Local 479
Tucson Police Commanders Association
Pima County Interfaith Council: a coalition of congregations, education organizations and non-profits
AFSCME Local 449
Pima Area Labor Federation
Casa Maria
Pima County Democratic Party
Small Business Advocates
City of Tucson Retirees Association
JL Investments

Proposition 400 will be on the general election ballot November 2. Early voting begins October 7. For election information call 740-4330. Contributions can be made on the website or by sending checks to Yes on 400: Keep Tucson First, PO Box 1365, Tucson, AZ 85702. Email