Tempe Mayor Hallman believes the best way to save money is to not waste it, which is why he wants answers from the agency administering the city’s social service programs.
The Tempe Community Council has asked the city for $115,000 at a time when the municipal budget faces a deficit due to unexpected expenses and an underperforming economy.
But at Thursday’s meeting of the City Council, Hallman is expected to continue grilling executive director Kate Hanley about why the city should part with its money when the TCC seems to freely spend its own.
Last Thursday, Hallman, an attorney by trade, cross-examined Hanley about why the TCC is continuing to give salary raises and fill staff vacancies when the city, as a cost-cutting measure, is doing neither.
The mayor also delivered a verbal warning to his colleagues.
“This council is facing a huge issue of priorities,” Hallman said. “And I don’t want anybody leaving this (council) table thinking there’s free money they can give certain groups and not others.”
The TCC’s request is on a list of items and issues that has drained the general fund contingency budget. Among the other expenditures is pricey gas for the city’s fleet of vehicles, a money grab by the Legislature and police officers in the high schools.
In total, the city is looking at an immediate shortfall of more than $2.7 million and, with slumping sales tax collections, a year-end deficit of perhaps as much as $7 million.
But as Hallman noted, the TCC funding is voluntary.
Also on the agenda, the council is slated to discuss the stalled Centerpoint on Mill project.
That retail development, located on the northwest corner of University Drive and Mill Avenue, is now half vacant because its owners planned for a massive makeover but got caught in the current financial downturn.
Now, city leaders are upset one of the gateways to downtown is nearly devoid of activity.