ARIZONA, NATION MOURN LOSS OF 19 FIREFIGHTERS KILLED IN BLAZE NEAR PRESCOTT - "We are heartbroken about what happened," said President Barack Obama about the loss of 19 firefighters who died battling a wildfire near Prescott. As of this afternoon, the wildfire has scorched about 8,500 acres and is not contained at all, according to officials. The incident is the worst loss of life for American firefighters since 9/11. Gov. Jan Brewer has signed an order declaring a state of emergency in Yavapai County, and has ordered flags flying over state buildings to half-staff. This morning, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild issued the following statement: "This is a terribly sad day for Arizona. Our thoughts and prayers are with those lost and their loved ones. Fire is an unpredictable, terrible force. No one knows that better than the hotshot crews and firefighters who face this danger. We mourn the loss of these brave public servants, heroes every one." From the Washington Post, USA Today, KOLD/KMSB.
OFFICIALS WARN PENSION INITIATIVE COULD DEVASTATE CITY FINANCES - A planned ballot initiative that would force the city to put more money into funding employee pensions could bankrupt the city, officials say. Backers of the initiative need 12,730 valid signatures in order to be placed on the November ballot. The initiative, backed by a group called the Liberty Initiative Fund, would force the City to switch to a 401(k)-type retirement plan for all new City employees or current employees who opt in. While the city would see substantial savings under the proposal 15 years down the road, Finance Director Kelly Gottschalk said, the increased cost leading up to that 15-year mark is so high it's unlikely the budget could hold out long enough to experience any benefit. She estimates the change would cost taxpayers $24 million extra in the first year alone and tens of millions more each year for more than a decade, placing the city in severe financial straits. From the Star.
THIRD VEHICLE FROM UNITED STREETCAR ENTERS SERVICE IN PORTLAND - The third streetcar built by United Streetcar began carrying Portland Streetcar passengers last week. The company expects to deliver the final streetcars ordered by Portland later this summer. The deliveries are about one year behind schedule. "We're pleased to see yet another of our American-made vehicles serving passengers in Portland," said United Streetcar President Kevin Clarke. The company is also contracted to build the vehicles for Tucson's Sun Link Streetcar line. Delivery of the first Tucson vehicle is tentatively scheduled for late August. From the Portland Tribune.
BUILDERS OPPOSE PIMA COUNTY ON IMPACT FEES, GAS TAX INCREASES - Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry plans to increase roadway development impact fees by $279 for typical single-family homes starting this week. The Southern Arizona Home Builders Association objects, disputing Huckelberry's assertions the economy has recovered enough to support such an increase. The disagreement comes in the wake of an earlier dispute between the two over a statewide increase in the gas tax. Huckelberry said he was disappointed in a letter sent by SAHBA on Monday, in which the builder's group was unwilling to back a proposed 10-cent increase in the gas tax. From the Star.
CONTRACT OPPORTUNITY: ALARM MONITORING - The City of Tucson is seeking proposals from qualified firms to establish an annual alarm installation and monitoring services contract for the protection of City buildings and property. The Contractor shall provide monitoring and reporting of Fire Alarm, Fire Alarm Trouble, Intrusion Alarm, and Intrusion Alarm Trouble signals. Bids due July 18th, pre-bid conference July 8th.