/ Modified may 19, 2017 5:22 p.m.

Episode 138: Sales Tax Passes - Tucson's Plans to Spend on Roads, Safety

Plus: decriminalizing mental illness, the end of the Legislative session and the state of the city budget.

Tucson voters approved a half-percent sales tax increase Tuesday, and now the city will make the first moves toward spending the money that tax will bring in.

City Manager Michael Ortega said the first task is to place orders for police and fire vehicles. They will take 12 to 18 months to be manufactured and delivered to Tucson, so the orders can be placed now, he said. The tax will be collected beginning July 1, and the city will have access to the first revenue in September, Ortega said.

Ortega predicted the tax will generate the entire $250 million estimated, because he said when he calculated the revenue, he didn't plan on city growth. The five-year revenue estimate was based on 2017 realities, he said.

Hear more from Ortega about the tax implementation plans, and the city budget, in this episode of Metro Week:

  • What’s next for the sales tax: Tucson voters decided Tuesday to raise the city sales tax, we’ll interview City Manager Michael Ortega about the next steps putting the money toward police and fire equipment, plus road repairs.

  • Decriminalizing mental illness: Pima County is half way through a grant aimed at reducing the jail population. As part of that effort, this week the county holds a conference with judges, mental health professionals, prosecutors and defense attorneys, including experts from out of state. They’ll discuss how to focus on getting mentally ill people the treatment they need as an alternative to jail. We interview Ellen Wheeler, assistant Pima County administrator; and Miami-Dade county court judge Steven Leifman, who initiated similar strategies to bring down the number of incarcerated people who needed mental health treatment instead of jail.

  • Freshmen lawmakers: Two state representatives from Tucson reflect on their first year in the Arizona House of Representatives. We checked in with Democrat Kirsten Engel and Republican Todd Clodfelter in January, and now we follow up after the close of the legislative session.

  • Legislature recap: Christopher Conover gives an update on the legislative action that could affect Southern Arizona, including university building repairs and municipal budgets.

  • Tucson budget: We return to our conversation with Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega, this time with a focus on the city budget and the state budget’s effect on city revenue.

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