Phoenix Wraps Up Budget Hearings, But Work To Close Deficit Remains

By Nick Blumberg
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 6:19am
Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 5:05pm

The city of Phoenix was set to wrap up a series of hearings on its proposed budget Tuesday night. It faces a $38 million deficit, and city leaders will spend the next month deciding how best to close the gap.

Some of the proposals in the city manager's 2014-15 trial budget include closing senior centers, pools and courtrooms. As of Tuesday afternoon, the city said it has received more than 1,100 comments on the budget in person, online and by phone.

City Budget and Research Director Mario Paniagua said comments are a great way to gauge community priorities. And even though the city has heard from a lot of people who don't want to see cuts, Paniagua said new revenue could also be an option, like: "the fees at things like community centers and senior centers. We actually heard from people that attend those centers that they're willing to pay a little bit more in order to help balance the budget."

Other options include increasing some parking meter rates, a tax on grocery bags, and a monthly $1.50 fee for water customers.

Paniagua also said the budget proposal doesn't include any savings on city worker compensation, but that labor negotiations are underway.

"The next step is that the city manager will be presenting a proposed budget to the city council on May 6," Paniauga said. "It will be different from the trial budget, and will also be a balanced budget, but it really takes into account the feedback received from the community as well as any proposed changes in the budget at that point."

The plan then faces another couple weeks of tweaking before council approves the final budget on May 20.

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