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Pima County delays vote on COVID-19 business regulations, adopts tentative budget

Pima County delays vote on COVID-19 business regulations, adopts tentative budget

From the May's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Cases rise, judge rules that state can keep nursing home data from public series

The Pima County Board of Supervisors postponed a vote to amend a set of temporary health code regulations that have sparked controversy throughout the county and state. A decision will be made at an emergency meeting Thursday.

Last week, the board voted 3-2 to adopt the regulations for restaurants, pools, gyms and other facilities in order to protect employees and customers through the duration of the pandemic.

The proclamation includes a variety of regulations for different businesses, such as occupancy limitations, protective-equipment requirements, social-distancing protocols, daily temperature checks and the public display of signage and cleaning logs.

After receiving a considerable amount of feedback, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry offered several amendments to the regulations, including no longer requiring restaurants to have call-ahead reservation systems, no longer requiring workers to determine if a customer is ill with COVID-19 and rescinding any civil penalties associated with a violation of the regulations.

After a lengthy meeting Tuesday, several board members also suggested a number of their own revisions, resulting in a decision to delay the vote until a final draft of the proposed amendments could be reviewed.

Supervisor Steve Christy, who has consistently voted against the regulations, asked that the amendments not be adopted and that the proclamation be rescinded altogether.

“There is already adequate assurances for safety of the customers and workforce already on the books with the governor’s proclamations. What it’s saying to the restaurant community is that Pima County does not trust the restaurants to do the right thing.”

Supervisor Ramón Valadez, who sent a letter to Ducey before adopting the regulations, maintained the importance of the regulations, pointing to the fact that COVID-19 is still present in Pima County.

Telecommuting

At Thursday’s emergency meeting, the Board of Supervisors will also vote on a number of amendments to Pima County’s temporary telecommuting policy, which has received considerable backlash by county employees.

In particular, Supervisor Sharon Bronson suggested that qualifying essential employees be permitted to telecommute for the duration of the pandemic and that telecommuting requests be approved by only a department supervisor, rather than county administration.

Tentative Budget

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board also adopted a tentative budget of $1.42 billion for fiscal year 2021.

This amount represents the spending limit on the proposed final budget, which will be adopted June 23. Supervisors can still change funding amounts as long as they don’t increase the spending limit.

The overall budget also includes more than $65 million in federal CARES Act stimulus funds to help the county pay for unbudgeted costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Huckelberry said the pandemic has resulted in a $70 million budget shortfall for the county.

If approved in June, the county’s overall property tax rate would be reduced by 4.5%, 170 miles of county roads would be repaired and $165 million would be allocated to capital project funding.

Contact reporter Jasmine Demers at jdemers@tucson.com

On Twitter: @JasmineADemers

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