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ONLY ON KOLD: City measure on graffiti aimed at utility companies

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It costs about $1 million dollars every year for the city of Tucson to clean up graffiti.

That money could be going away, but one city council member has an idea to recoup cleaning costs.

Graffiti on utility boxes can be seen from many Tucson roads.

"This is where we live and we want it to look good," midtown resident Kristine Yarter said.

Yarter carries her own bag of cleansers and sprays to erase signs and scribbles on the equipment.

"You know we're just kind of getting tired of having to do this work," she said.

Steve Kozachik/ Council Member

"The utilities, they need to understand the residents are not their volunteers," Tucson City Council Member Steve Kozachik said.

Kozachik is especially concerned. He said a new budget proposal completely eliminates money for graffiti abatement.

"They're calling it a non-core service, and I think that's freaking nuts," he said.

His answer to the graffiti problem and the funding problem is to bill the utilities when the city has to clean their equipment.

"So I'm talking to the city attorneys right now to see if we have the legal authority to do that," he said.

Tucson Electric Power and Century Link said they welcome customers to tell them about graffiti problems using email.

Some residents say the tough part about reporting graffiti on utility boxes is the boxes don't have any identifying features so they don't know which utility owns which box and what location to report for clean up.

"If they take a photo that's really helpful to us," said Joseph Barrios with Tucson Electric Power.

Barrios said TEP even formed a team to address tagging.

"If they simply contact us and let us know we will respond," he said.

In an email, a Century Link spokesman told Tucson News Now field technicians handle graffiti while out on calls.

Still, residents like Yarter say they see the crews but not the cleaning.

"I guess I'm tired of spending my retirement money on this and would like to see the utility companies step up," she said.

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