October 25, 2012

Dear Friends & Neighbors:

On Tuesday October 23, Mayor and Council voted 7-0 to fiscally reform the debt ridden city golf enterprise. I let you know in April and May that I was taking the lead on this issue of fiscal responsibility, and my colleagues have joined me in support of the City Manager’s sweeping reform of city golf.

View the Motion and action here

City golf courses, such as Fred Enke, may be closed and a passive desert park put in its place. El Rio golf course may be re-purposed to open up the golf course as green space and a family-friendly public park that would be open to everyone.

Please keep your eye out for public meetings in the near future to discuss the possibilities of opening up green space as a public park at El Rio. I want to hear your thoughts of how you would like to see El Rio evolve as a public space for all.    

I helped to create the Independent Audit Commission in 2009 because I knew then as I know now that the City of Tucson needs independent financial oversight.

The Independent Audit Commission brought to light golf’s six straight years of significant cash losses.

The huge cash deficits of the city golf enterprise are a basic issue of supply and demand.

Locally, as well as nationally, the number of golfers has declined since 2000. Tucson is second only to Phoenix in market saturation with more golf course holes per 10,000 people than Philadelphia, San Diego, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Houston, and San Jose.

The supply of golf courses has clearly outstripped the demand for golf. It’s a problem for any business when demand is down and supply is up. The city golf enterprise is no different.

Here are some of the financial issues that are a result of these market trends:

  • six straight years of cash losses with no end in sight
  • cash losses covered by the general fund are $7.5 million
  • Certificates of Participation (COPS) capital debt of $4.6 million for a total debt of over $12 million
  • COPS debt service will double and then quadruple in the next several years
  • immediate capital needs of $3 million for Fred Enke

The General fund’s coverage of golf’s cash losses is just one of the indicators of golf’s poor financial health and just one of the many ways that golf is subsidized by the tax payers.

Let’s review a few of the ongoing subsidies:

  • coverage of cash losses by the general fund
  • all 18 golf courses (including City courses) on reclaimed water get a 10% subsidy this year which amounts to $1,200,000
  • Silverbell golf course gets free water and Randolph/Dell Urich get half price water, at standard reclaimed rates it is worth ~ $800,000
  • Since 2004 over $2.5 million of city administrative services not charged to golf (as enterprise funds both Water and Environmental Services Departments pay for these services as a cost of doing business)

The good news is that three of the five city golf courses are predominantly self-sustaining.  The vote by Mayor and Council plays to our strengths and has right-sized city golf.

I believe that the golf enterprise can and should pay its own way and, by ordinance of law, when it doesn’t you should know the full amount of tax payer dollars supporting it.

Therefore, the City Manager’s recommendation requires a full and transparent accounting to Mayor and Council and the public each year.

I believe the direction we have taken will prove to benefit city golf and the residents and visitors that enjoy the golf courses that the City of Tucson has to offer.

City golf will be sustained while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayer. As a result, we may open up green space and parks in the inner city.

Rarely do I have an opportunity to help create a win-win-win but I truly believe that city golf, the taxpayer and Tucson’s families will be better served with Mayor and Council’s latest direction.

To learn more information visit the link below (Item #6):

http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=950&doctype=AGENDA

                                                                                                                                                                                   

17th Annual Firefighters Association’s Chili Cook-off

Come and satisfy your chili craving at one of 34 booths while supporting needy families tomorrow at the 17th Annual Firefighters Association’s Chili Cook-off.  More than 1000 gallons of chili are being prepared, from hot to mild, meaty to vegetarian.  For just a $1 a cup you can sample as many as you like.  All proceeds benefit the Firefighters Association’s Adopt-A-Family Program, which assist families and children in need throughout the holiday season.

Who/What:  Tucson Firefighters Association’s 17th Annual Chili Cook-off

When:  Friday, October 26, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Where:  El Presidio Park, 160 W. Alameda

 

Realizando Sueños/Dreams Come True

I am proud to partner with the South Side Business Coalition (SSBC) and La Poderosa 105.3 to host “Realizando Sueños” or “Dreams Come True”, a family fiesta in support of Tucson’s DREAMers and deferred action eligible students, Sunday, October 28 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Rudy Garcia (Rodeo) Park (southeast corner of Irvington & Nogales Highway). The event is free and open to the public. 

As you remember, President Obama issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) plan via executive order. The order will defer action based on immigration status for young people that are attending school or have served in the armed forces who were brought to this country without documents as children.  Proceeds from food sales will help pay the $465 processing fees charged to student applicants.

The Fiesta will offer:

  • Live Music
  • Jumping Castles
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Sonoran Hotdogs
  • Immigration attorneys will be on hand to help take information and help handle DACA applicant paperwork free of charge.

What: “Realizando Sueños” or “Dreams Come True” Family Fiesta

When: Sunday, October 28th from 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Where: Rudy Garcia (Rodeo Park, 5001 S. Nogales Highway

Contact: Luis Judiz (520)270-7765 or Laura Dent (520)343-4900