City passes $1.36 Billion budget; Doubles money for graffiti clean-up

City passes $1.36 Billion budget; Doubles money for graffiti clean-up

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - In front of a packed city council room, with the crowd spilling into the overflow room, Tucson city council members voted 6-1 to pass the FY2016 budget of about $1.36 billion.

The only "no" vote came from councilman Steve Kozachik.

Council members voted after a lengthy call to audience, where they heard from city employees concerned about wages, and many who came to plead with the city to continue funding the city's community channel, Access Tucson.

Several council members, including the city manager said they wanted to see Access Tucson remain "on air", while they worked on setting up a Community Media Center.  Access Tucson is scheduled to "go dark" at the end of the month.

City manager Martha Durkin said they would be able to find interim funding to keep the station on air for a while.

Access Tucson employees, who wore purple to the meeting, left feeling optimistic but cautious.  Executive Director Lisa Horner said she was waiting to get more details on how the city planned to make this happen.

Also included in the FY 2016 budget is a proposal that would double the amount of money the city has been spending on graffiti clean up.

Transportation director Daryl Cole described it as a big problem.  Officials said the city is getting about 650 graffiti complaints a month

GPC coatings the city's contracted clean up crew is cleaning up 5,000 sites a month at a cost of about $60,000.

The new graffiti abatement budget of about $1.8 Million would also mean more money for GPC coatings, while the rest of it would go toward the city's internal clean up crew.  Cole said the city planned to hire two new inspectors, and a clerk.

Cole said the goal is to nip the problem in the bud, and to get the eyesores off the wall within 72 hours.

"We'll start going after anything you can see in the public right of way. If I can stand in the public right of way and see the tags, even if it's on private property we will go on to the private property and remove it.  We'll go to the private property owner and get a release of liability so we can do that," said Cole.

He added that the idea was to get the tags off the walls as fast they got up there.

"Paint is expensive, even for the taggers.  So if we can get it down they don't have the notoriety of having it up in the public's eye," said Cole.

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