Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said the city is open for economic, social and civic opportunities in his state of the city address Friday at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort.
This was his fourth such speech, and the final of this term in office. He announced he is running for reelection, and has filed paperwork to do so.
The annual address is Rothschild’s opportunity to outline priorities for the coming year, and he also spent time reviewing past accomplishments.
Read the full prepared speech here:
Here are a few areas Rothschild emphasized as priorities for the coming year:
Rothschild’s call for annexation has been a staple of his state of the city speeches and this year is no exception. Rothschild said Tucson is losing tens of millions of dollars in revenue by not incorporating more of Pima County. He estimated last year’s annexations, which included the Ghost River Ranch and land east of South Kolb Road and along East Valencia Road, will bring in close to $40 million in the next 10 years.
"Part of that was by the airport, giving us the ability to offer city incentives to businesses that want to develop that land for manufacturing and logistics – prime industrial properties at the center of our logistics hub," Rothschild said.
Annexing land for business use could increase tax revenue from business operations. Annexations allow the city to collect more state revenue because they increase the population of city residents.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Rothschild applauded the contributions of Southern Arizona’s military installations.
Tucson’s location, mild climate and connection to the University of Arizona make it a prime spot for defense operations, he said. The Air Force recently announced that 10 percent of the base’s A-10 airplanes were going on back-up status.
"The city of Tucson is working with Pima County, the state of Arizona, our congressional delegation, the business community, and others to develop the best possible case for Southern Arizona’s military installations, which play a vital role in our national defense and our regional economy," he said in the speech.
The political argument requires people from the private and public sectors, Rothschild said.
"We know the Department of Defense is consolidating infrastructure in Europe," he said. "Our goal is to position D-M as a central operations base with the command and control, air support, and logistics, to mount a comprehensive response to crises wherever they arise. A united approach can help us accomplish this goal."
Rothschild recalled his experience knocking on the doors of dropped-out high school students in the Tucson Unified School District.
He urged adults to set a positive example for teens, to volunteer to teach literacy, and to reach out to state lawmakers and demand more funding for education.
"Elected officials need to hear from the business community that fully funding K through 12 education is not just a priority, but a necessity – a pro-business necessity," he said.
Strengthened economic connections to Mexico
The city of Tucson opened trade offices in the Mexican cities of Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregón and Mexico City last year.
The next step is to streamline transportation between the countries, he said. One option is improving the connection between Interstate 19 and the Mariposa Port of Entry.
"Tucson is a gateway to Mexico and the United States," he said. "Having the north-south transportation infrastructure to take advantage of that is a matter not just of local, but of state and national concern."
Renewed street bonds
The city completed its first year of street-bond funded road repairs under budget, Rothschild reported.
By the end of the project, an additional 650 lane miles will be paved, and Rothschild said he wants to see the program renewed for another five years. That's because the city is making progress, and it can't fall behind, he said.
"Potholes come back, and the pavement treatments we’re able to do thanks to the streets bond – fog seal to mill and overlay, preservation to restoration – are the correct, the long-term approach to fixing our streets," he said.
A more beautiful Tucson
Rothschild said he hopes the same tactics used to reduce metal thefts to below 2010 levels can be applied to reducing graffiti. The Tucson Police Department collaborated with metal recyclers and a Pima County task force to save more than $2.5 million in stolen metal.
In the past, economic development, fixing the roads and improving business relationships with Mexico have been top priorities.