Phoenix City Council Gives Initial Approval To Budget

May 20, 2014

Phoenix City Council gave initial approval Tuesday to a $1.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year starting in July. Despite a massive deficit, it does not cut any city services and speeds up efforts to hire firefighters and police officers.

Phoenix was facing a nearly $38 million shortfall and just a few months ago the city was reviewing plans to, among other things, close some community centers and public pools to reduce expenses.  

Instead, council tentatively passed a budget that avoids those cuts.

But the council still has to vote on a series of proposals to generate revenues. They include a hike in parking meter rates, creation of a new nickel fee on plastic grocery bags and tacking a $1.50 on monthly water bills. Every city employee will also take a 1.6 percent pay cut to make ends meet. 

Luis Schmidt is president of Phoenix AFSCME, a union representing thousands of city employees.

“Don’t put all the cuts on the employees. I know there’s some additional revenue. But it’s just frustrating for all of the employees, sworn and non-sworn, to be vilified,” Schmidt said.

Phoenix employees have taken pay cuts in five of the past six years. The city council narrowly passed the budget by a vote of five to four, but the measure won’t be finalized until June 18.