Tucson drivers to get pothole relief
City Council approves funds to repair roads.
About $550,000 will go towards repairing and repaving city streets. Video by kgun9.comvideo
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – The monsoon is taking on a toll on the city’s roads by making potholes bigger – a problem that Councilman Steve Kozachik wants to fix with the $75,000 his ward saved.
He faced major opposition in a meeting weeks ago when other council members voted against his plan, saying the money should be added to citywide funds. However, it looks like both sides have come upon a compromise – with the approval of a general fund to fixing city streets and the option for Ward 6 to do it on an individual basis.
“It shouldn’t have even been a controversy. This is something that people have done out of ward office budget money for years and years,” Kozachik said. “I was doing what other council members have done in the past, allocating ward money to constituent needs.”
However, Councilwoman Karen Uhlich said Tucson could benefit from the savings of each ward going into a shared pot, as well as increased transparency and accountability with ward spending.
According to Kozachik, she and Councilwoman Regina Romero have both spent extra money in their budget on various projects in the past, such as Habitat for Humanity and Little League.
KGUN9 News asked Uhlich about what Kozachik considered her hypocrisy.
“The question isn’t whether we should invest in streets. It’s whether we should do it in a piecemeal way, ward by ward, or in a coordinated manner,” Uhlich said. “So the precedent in the last few years we have been breaking old patterns and not doing business as usual ... Even last year when all of the ward offices had savings, we worked together and helped fix the city budget.”
However, the City Council appeared to have struck a balance at Wednesday’s study session, by unanimously approving roughly $550,000 for the repairing and repaving of citywide roads, which came from the selling of land.
Jim Glock, the director of Tucson’s Department of Transportation, told 9 On Your Side he will prioritize the areas that need the most improvement. He estimates that the money will fix about 20 miles-worth of roads and the project will start in September, at the earliest.
He also said that the Council will likely approve Kozachik’s plan to fix the potholes only in his ward.
“It’s not a policy issue. This is an issue about politics and partisanship. Quite frankly, let’s get it out of the way and let’s move forward,” Kozachik said.
Uhlich echoed the sentiment: “I think we’re coming to some agreements about how to make sure that we move forward on a better note than we have.”