Phoenix Budget Boosts Spending, Possible Rate Hikes To Come

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 10:24pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 10:06am
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A man holds a sign asking for money near Phoenix City Hall.

Higher water and solid waste bills could be coming to Phoenix. During Tuesday’s policy session, council members approved a budget for fiscal year 2018-19, which includes a temporary staffing increase to clean up more homeless encampments.

The $600,000 cost will be covered with existing solid waste funds, but only for one year. Vice Mayor Thelda Williams said future work could require a rate hike.

“If we want to continue to do the clean-up, not only just for the homeless, but we get many calls for alley problems, we would probably have to ask probably another quarter or something on the monthly bill,” she said.

She said a discussion on solid waste rates is expected this fall, the same time period that City Manager Ed Zuercher said council will review water expenses and rates.

The general fund budget for fiscal year 2018-19 is $1.310 billion. That's $32 million or 2.5 percent higher than 2017-2018. Projected general fund revenue for 2018-2019 is estimated to be $1.184 billion, an increase of 1.7 percent over the revised current year estimate.

Phoenix’s total budget is $4.421 billion, an amount that includes general, enterprise and special revenue funds and all debt service and pay-as-you-go capital costs.

Budget Highlights:

Police

  • Resources for the Police Department to reach and maintain 3,125 total filled sworn positions, an increase of 177 over the current 2,948. 
  • Adding five civilian positions at a cost of $510,000 to support the Crime Gun Intelligence Center to improve speed of firearms testing. 

Fire

  • Resources to maintain a total filled count of 1,654 which is required to ensure compliance with 2016 SAFER Grant. Current total sworn is 1,628. 
  •  Reallocating five fire captains and one battalion chief into six firefighter positions to enhance first responder staffing levels. Savings from reallocation will offset "a significant enhancement" to the Fire Prevention Program by adding eight positions for additional inspections.
  • Construction of Fire Station 55 located at I-17 and Jomax Road.

Homelessness

  • $75,000 increase to support the CASS Homeless Shelter from approximately $833,000 to $908,000 to enhance case management.
  • $472,000 to add two additional homeless outreach teams for Phoenix C.A.R.E.S., a collaborative program using several city departments and contracted outreach teams to provide a comprehensive response to homelessness. 
  • $256,000 to add two new park rangers to help with enforcement at flatland parks and provide support for Phoenix C.A.R.E.S.
  • $600,000 to add Public Works and Streets Department staff to clean up more homeless encampments. This one-year commitment will be paid for with existing solid waste funds. If council wants to continue the effort additional funding sources will need to be explored.

Neighborhoods

  • Resources to establish and monitor a Sober Living Home Licensing Program.

Trees and Shade

  • $450,000 to the Street Transportation Department for installation and maintenance for up to 750 more trees per year.

Arts and Culture

  • $189,000 for a project management position to oversee coordination and development of the Latino Cultural Center. A site has not yet been publicly identified.
  • $30,000 to the Arts Grant Program to return to pre-Recession funding levels of $790,000.

Library Hours

  • $295,000 to restore branch hours to approximately 48 hours per branch or 67 percent of pre-Recession levels.

Pedestrian Safety

  • $172,000 to create a pedestrian safety coordinator to analyze pedestrian collisions and work with a review team to evaluate infrastructure improvements, educational opportunities and targeted enforcement to improve safety. This new position would be paid for using the city’s Arizona Highway User Revenue, which includes various gas tax and vehicle licensing fees collected by the state and distributed to cities.

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