, 2022-08-07 22:52:38,
Posted Aug 7, 2022, 1:13 pm
The budget process is over now that the deadlines have passed and spending plans have been set.
Or so we thought.
During a Tuesday study session, the Tucson City Council is expected to discuss $82 million in “supplemental” spending to go along with the nearly $2 billion budget approved in June. It’s meant to hire 206 new city employees.
This was always the plan.
City Manager Mike Ortega told department heads to move along two budget tracks. Phase one was putting out a standard-issue budget based on the last fiscal year.
Phase two was for the city to identify a bunch of new spending priorities for fiscal year 2022-23. Mission accomplished. Here comes new spending in the high eight figures. The bulk of it will be devoted to hiring new workers.
Notice I didn’t type “additional spending.” The money will be paid for from accounts within the city’s existing finances. So the city’s budget limit approved in June still stands. Even contingency funds are legally budgeted money and therefore part of the city’s overall spending capacity.
If the Council approves the move, the City Attorney’s Office would get four new staffers to work on domestic violence cases. Environmental Services would get new crews to clean up homeless camps. Tucson police are asking for 82 new officers and Ortega is recommending an equivalent of 50. The Human Resources Department is filling what it calls a “temp work force.” How the hell is a union-supported Council is going to approve that?
That’s the idea.
This feels sneaky, even though it’s what passes for on the level from an accounting standpoint.
I can see where Ortega would want to tell city departments, “OK, give me the budget you know we can afford year over year. Next, give me your wish list now that we are flush with extra cash and coming out of a pandemic.” There’s some strategic utility – I guess – in keeping those two processes separate.
It still feels sneaky. Just include it concurrently with the budget.
Gentle aside: For more proof that the U.S. is not in a recession, the city is going on a hiring spree. If this were an actual recession, the city would be cutting 200 workers who would be competing with umpteen dozen laid off call-center workers for the one job opening at Walmart. The job would go to a cashier’s idiot cousin.
This is another way of saying: “Boy do I wish this were my recession. Cuz my recession suuuuuccckkkkked.”
Yes, I get that…
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