Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tucson Budget Crisis

 If the city is requesting a tax hike, there must be more information given to the voters.

So let's do some math! What is the amount of federal money received by transit today? How long is this requirement from the '70s in effect? Are these higher costs associated with hiring a management company, the union demands, the benefit levels and coping with strikes worth what the feds are contributing now? Too much money is tied up in this. If the answer is that certain people who make money off federal grants control the process and they're not going to let go of it, then this financial crisis cannot be solved. If this management company hiring is in perpetuity, then a court challenge needs to be made. How much does the management company for transit cost the taxpayers? This appears to be an unnecessary restriction in a right to work state.
I want to know what percent of this proposed tax increase will go to what department and will be used for what. How about a nice pie chart showing the raw data? Then break down each core department into how it spends the money: personnel, pensions, benefits, equipment, maintenance, buildings, consultants, debt service... Another general pie chart showing personnel numbers per department, others to show executive, administrative, clerical, field personnel, contractors and consultants as a percent of total expenditures in each department.

Core services as defined by charter? how detailed is it? Are all these subsidiary to the core services also untouchable? Can some portions of 'core services' be transferred to other departments, away from core services? let's redefine 'core services' to more austere levels.
I know what kind of core services this city had in the early days and what they are defining as core services now is nothing like that.

Here is an explanation for the creation of a management company for transit, politely supplied by George Caria:

Here are the answers to your questions. The first and third questions are reated, so I answered them together.

1. When did the city give this management team the right to negotiate with Sun Tram, giving them the right to strike when others can not? and 3. She said it was federally mandated. Why would this be?

When the Transit system went from private to public in the 1970's, the Federal Government had agreements in place with the Department of Labor. If transit systems, throughout the United States, not just Tucson, were going to received federal money they were required to have a right to strike clause in their labor agreement. Since most cities do not have a right to strike clause, they were required to hire a management company, so those employees were not employed by the City, but a separate management company. Additionally, it is required that issues related to labor details in the agreements, only be negotiated by the management company, and not the City.

This model was used throughout the country in cities such as Minneapolis, Mephis, Richmond, just to mention a few.

2. Who in the city set this up?

As I previously mentioned, this was set-up back in the 1970's. As private transit companies were folding, the Federal government offered financial assistance, and this was one of the strings attached to receiving Federal dollars. If Federal monies were not used to acquire transit systems cities were faced with the dilemma of using the Federal dollars or not having a transit system in the community.