Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rio Nuevo Board approved a budget reflecting the reduction in annual state tax revenue for FY 2022. The Covid-19 related business closures and the subsequent economic slowdown in FY 2021 have impacted the District, but not as much as originally predicted. Rio Nuevo was still able to provide funds to support businesses deeply affected by the pandemic throughout FY 2021, while still maintaining a fiscally conservative budget. A variety of projects were still able to move forward, including the ongoing improvements to the Tucson Convention Center, The Bautista project, the remodeling of the Hotel Congress Copper Room, and 10 restaurant parklets.
The Board again opted to allocate zero dollars for marketing and sponsorship support for downtown-centric events since they continue to be canceled. Chairman Fletcher McCusker offered to revisit the budget in 90 days to look for more opportunities to continue to encourage downtown events and development. “We’re already seeing signs of economic recovery,” said Chairman McCusker. Compared to the District’s pre-covid approved budget of over $16 million, this fiscal year’s budget of $12.2 million shows the beginnings of this economic recovery.
The Board additionally agreed to allocate funds for enhanced security to combat the destruction of properties along the Sunshine Mile, as well as increasing staff wages in line with the State of Arizona.
Many of the District’s current construction projects are public/private partnerships where the funding has been secured from private lenders and therefore are not affected by the loss of state revenue. The Bautista, 75 E. Broadway, The Tucson Convention Center renovation, and the One South Church hotel project are proceeding in FY 2022.