South Tucson considering outsourcing police, fire departments - Tucson News Now

South Tucson considering outsourcing police, fire departments

South Tucson City manager Sixto Molina speaking about offering police/fire services as city struggles with sales tax revenue. (Source: Tucson News Now) South Tucson City manager Sixto Molina speaking about offering police/fire services as city struggles with sales tax revenue. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The South Tucson City Council is looking into possibly getting rid of its police or fire departments due to the city's current $624,000 budget deficit.

City Manager Sixto Molina said the city is having trouble offering these services as they struggle with sales tax revenue. He said the city would consider looking into contracting another agency or agencies to help patrol streets and handle other emergency services.

"We are not going to sacrifice the quality of service that we've been providing to save money. We're not going to do that," said Molina. "We're going
to try to create a win-win situation and provide the same or better quality of service for less amount of money."

Molina said there are about 14 options the city is looking at to help with the budget crisis. He said the goal is get past the debt so they can have extra money to spend.

"We can't change what happened in the past," said Molina. "Everything is situational. It is what it is and we have to deal with the issues today."

Molina said the South Tucson Police Department is closely tied to the Tucson Police Department in terms of the technology and communication systems they use, so asking TPD to consider being contracted "would be the only option they would have."

"We're looking for win-win situation where we can save money and maybe another agency can make some money," said Molina.

Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega said in an article featured in the Arizona Daily Star, that any formal proposal related to contracting with South Tucson to provide services would ultimately have to be decided by the Tucson City Council.

Right now, the city of Tucson provides residential trash services to South Tucson.

Meanwhile, some South Tucson residents are concerned about how this might affect the relationship between the community and law enforcement.

"Traditionally, South Tucson has been more of a community police force and I worry about outsiders coming in and enforcing law," said South Tucson resident Cesar Aguirre. "I can see a lot of friction between community and law enforcement in that way depending on how they handle that."

South Tucson Police Chief Mike Ford said he's confident in the services STPD provides and the price they provide it for and that it's all about the city's attempt to make sure they're not adding to the deficit.

Ford said right now, STPD has a total of about 20 people on its staff. That includes officers and its administrative staff.

Molina said "nothing is set in stone" and the South Tucson city council will continue to weigh its options. 

"We're not that far off," said Molina. "It sounds like a lot of money for a tiny city but we're not that far off. We'll get through this. We're paying all of our bills. We're sustaining ourselves but,  we're now at the point where we want long term sustainability through sales tax revenue."

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