South Tucson City Hall

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star 2014

A projected $624,000 budget deficit has the South Tucson City Council considering the unthinkable — laying off all of its firefighters or its police officers.

The streets of the one-square-mile city wouldn't devolve into a lawless region overnight, as city officials look to contract with another agency or agencies to handle court services, patrol city streets and handle other emergency services.

Hopefully, at a cheaper cost than what the city is spending.

The city has not reached out to other agencies or privately-run companies like Rural/Metro about such an agreement or whether they would be willing to partner with South Tucson after a string of recent financial problems.

Less than two years ago, Waste Management severed ties with the city over a dispute over $300,000 in unpaid debts for garbage collection. The city was able to avoid a costly legal fight but agreed to a $140,000 settlement paid over several years.

The city of Tucson now provides residential trash services, billing customers directly.

City Manager Sixto Molina discussed various options with the City Council on Monday night, outlining why furloughing employees, cutting salaries and eliminating holiday pay cannot make up for expected budget shortfall.

The council also briefly discussed various tax hikes but there are caps on how much the city can increase property taxes.

However, the measure was dismissed as insufficient to answer the budget crisis.

Read more in Wednesday's Arizona Daily Star.