Tucsonans will have their chance to weigh in on the audit of the Rio Nuevo District during a public hearing Monday.

The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center. It will last no more than 90 minutes, and speakers will have three minutes to speak their mind.

The new Rio Nuevo Board is required by law to hold a public hearing on the audit, which was released in late October. The board must prepare a response to the audit by sometime in December.

The audit found that the city's Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment district was beset by mismanagement and a lack of financial oversight and internal controls that left a majority of its projects incomplete after more than $230 million was spent.

The audit, conducted by Crowe Horwath of Los Angeles for the state auditor general, said much of Rio Nuevo's money was spent on planning or projects that stalled.

It also found more than half of Rio Nuevo's projects are incomplete or on hold; the city's Rio Nuevo financial data on projects was "abbreviated, incomplete and confusing"; money was spent on projects not congruent with Rio Nuevo's mission; and the city charged Rio Nuevo excessive interest rates for the district's unpaid loan balances.

"When viewed from a value-added perspective, the current outcomes are unsatisfactory," the audit said. "Only a small number of other projects - two theaters, underpass, roundabout, and the two TCC projects - are tangible, complete and recognized as such."

The audit's findings mirrored those of Arizona Daily Star investigations of Rio Nuevo over the past three years.

City officials criticized the audit two weeks ago, pointing out numerous small errors but not challenging the majority of the audit's conclusions.

Rio Nuevo Board Vice Chairman Mark Irvin said the audit showed Rio Nuevo was "horribly mismanaged."

He said he hopes people will turn out to speak.


Contact reporter Rob O'Dell at 573-4346 or rodell@azstarnet.com