Phoenix City Manager Proposes $29 Million In Budget Cuts

By Alexandra Olgin, Stina Sieg
Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 4:14pm
Updated: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 9:36am
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Phoenix is facing a budget deficit of nearly $38 million and is looking to save money. The city manager has outlined a plan to cut $29 million in cuts from the city’s budget. That includes reductions to emergency services and the parks department.

The proposed cuts to the parks department would total more than $7 million. Parks spokesman David Urbinato said the city’s summer camps would be the first to close.

“If the cuts were to be enacted July 1 as they are listed today, then we would not be able to operate that program because the centers at which they were offered would be shuttered,” said Urbinato.

Urbinato said summer swimming and diving teams at nine city pools would also be eliminated, and 13 community centers that offer fitness classes and sports leagues would be closed if the reduced spending plan becomes a reality.

Another suggestions is to take away more than $260,000 from the graffiti removal program. Spokesperson Erynn Crowley said if the council approves the city managers budget as proposed, the program could lose four graffiti busters.

“Well the graffiti program is one of our very critical components in the city wide, city wide anti-graffiti effort, and removing positions would obviously hinder our ability to be as responsive as possible,” said Crowley.

Crowley said the program has been around for more than 20 years and has a staff of 14 people. Three of the city’s 15 senior centers would close under the plan. The centers provide recreation and meals to 7,000 seniors and disabled adults.

Moises Gallegos is the city’s acting human services director. He said Phoenix closed two senior centers in 2010. He imagines reaction from users to the most recent proposed closures will be much like last time.

"The concern is pretty immediate, of course, because you’re not sure if it’s your center, and if it is, what would you do – your friends, you have an attachment to the center, the attachment to the staff," said Gallegos.

Gallegos doesn’t know which, if any, senior centers will be shut down. He said the city runs a program that gives $1 cab rides to qualified residents to their closest senior center, and that program is not slated for cuts.

The next step in this process is to present the proposal to the public in April. The city manager will draft a budget based on those meetings. That will then be presented to the city council, which is slated to make a final decision May 20.

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