Safety committee's future up in the air - Tucson News Now

Safety committee's future up in the air

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The city of Tucson has begun a review process which includes all 62 of its boards, commissions and committees with the end result that some of them will go away.

Each of them requires staff time and city tax dollars to hold meetings, collect data and make decisions which may influence future city policy.

But it appears some commissions and boards have out lived their usefulness, hence the review that could pare down the total significantly, by some estimates as many as 30.

"It won't save the city manager Mike Ortega millions of dollars," said Ruth Beeker, head of Tucson Residents for Responsive Government, which initiated the review process. "But it could make for much more efficiency."

In the first few weeks of the process some committees have been shut down, such as Sign Code Advisory and Appeals, Rodeo Grounds Committee which hadn't met in six years, resource planning advisory committee, Climate Change Commission and withdrawing from the Metro Energy Commission.

There's more to come.

Next week, the Pedestrian Advisory Committee takes its case to the Tucson city council study session. While there's little doubt it will not be sunsetted, which is scheduled for the end of June, it will still need to make its case before city leaders.

The committee was formed four years ago after being part of the Bicycle/Pedestrian committee for many years. Pedestrian deaths became an issue in Tucson when it was reveled the city was on a federal watch list because of the high number of pedestrian deaths.

It was made a stand alone committee and given a four-year term. The question now, does it need to go for another four years and beyond.

The committee chair Vanessa Cascio said she welcomes the opportunity for self reflection and a renewed commitment to goals.

"It's not going to be a 13-member committee that's going to overnight see a reduction of fatalities," she said. "It's going to be a broader city commitment."

Four years has not been long enough to achieve the goals which were first proposed, the first of which is to reduce deaths and accidents.

"These are huge pieces that in four years, it's a big piece to tackle," she said. "So there's a lot of work to be done."

She's drafted this letter, which has become part of the city record and will be used as the basis for renewal. 

"The city council has a decision to make," the 81-year-old Beeker said. 

She helped lead a city council survey which discovered only a "handful" of the committees had been in contact with the mayor and council in years.

"If the city council thinks they should be there only for window dressing, maybe they should be independent," she said. "Why are citizens wasting their time."

The committees exist to help the city make policy and gather information and generally meet at least monthly. But Beeker believes they should keep in mind their end goal.

"Do they really have a purpose of is this just a little social club that meets monthly," she said.

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