by Jim Nintzel
Well, that was quick.
Republican Steve Kozachik, who is seeking to unseat Democrat Nina Trasoff in Ward 6, has informed us via e-mail that he plans to continue to support the Public Safety First initiative on the Nov. 3 ballot. Kozachik had said he was reconsidering his support, given that the city could be facing a $46 million shortfall next year.
Kozachik says he doesn't trust the budget numbers released by City Manager Mike Letcher.
Here's his complete statement:
It was recently reported that I am reconsidering my support of the Safety First Initiative. Given the importance of that Proposition to our community, I owe it to the voters to make my position clear and unambiguous so that they may make an informed decision in the upcoming election. Early balloting begins this week. Thus, the burden shifts to me to clarify my stance on Proposition 200.
Before the first Proposition 200 petition was circulated early this year, I had committed
to not voting for any budget that included cuts in funding to Police and Fire. My support of our first responders therefore preceded any discussion of the Safety First Initiative. When the initiative petitions began to be distributed, I signed on.
Last week, City Manager Mike Letcher announced that the City might be facing a fiscal deficit of $46 million. When he did so, I reacquainted myself with the budget data in order that I could reconcile my support of the added costs associated with the Initiative with the projected budget forecasts. That process has led me to the following conclusions:
A) There is a very troubling lack of consistency in way the budget data are being presented
B) The costs associated with passing the Initiative similarly lack any level of consistency
It is truly unfortunate that an issue of such great importance to our community has been allowed to become mired in the politics of the season. The taxpayers of Tucson deserve a balanced and reasoned debate of the issue.
I remain concerned with the fiscal condition of the City. I will work as an elected official to control costs while working to grow the local economy. That is the key to the future health of our city. I also remain committed to serving in a manner that recognizes the needs of the “least of those among us.”
The guiding component of that effort is to first identify what constitutes the “core” issues for which the city is responsible. Those are public safety, transportation and open space/parks.
Do I trust the data being presented by the current administration, or do I trust in the data that has been presented to me by the representatives of the men and women who place their lives in harms way daily on behalf of we, the citizens?
To answer that, I look to recent history:
This M&C have overseen the waste of millions of dollars in the name of revitalization, the loss of private sector business, $1-per-year lease deals, cost overruns on project after project and fiscal mismanagement to the point where our city bond rating is in jeopardy.
Both the Police and Fire voluntarily took pay and benefits cuts during the last fiscal year, and have reallocated personnel and absorbed inadequate provision of their physical plant in an effort to assist the City in meeting its recent budgetary imbalance.
I have received commitments from both the Police and Fire unions that they will continue in that spirit in the days ahead as the city works to change the economic direction in which we have been led by this administration. They, too are citizens of our community and bring to the table a concern over its longterm health and vibrancy—and safety.
Ultimately, the voters will decide this initiative. In doing so, they are casting a vote that identifies which candidates they trust to manage us through these rough economic times. A vote for the recent past, or a vote that looks to a Tucson that is better than what we have been allowed to become.
With that, I reaffirm my support of the Safety First Initiative.