Phoenix needs to change directions to solve budget issues - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Phoenix needs to change directions to solve budget issues

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:00 am

Ask people these days how things are going, and among the most common responses is “hanging on.” Sometimes it’s just “trying to hang on.”

We’ve gotten more than a glimpse of what our parents’ or grandparents’ went through in the Depression. Today’s economy is like being behind in the fourth quarter with your family’s future on the line.

The last thing people need now is government piling on. But Phoenix is raising taxes, boosting fees and lowering services. We’ve heard the pleas at public budget hearings in Ahwatukee and elsewhere: “We rely on the library (senior center/softball field/service for disabled).” “Please don’t make necessities more expensive.”

I firmly believe that the goal of government now should be to relieve those burdens and prevent new ones. That’s not what’s happening enough.

Examples: In the past 60 days, Phoenix has raised water rates, boosted fees on small businesses, established an innovation and efficiency task force that meets in secret and lacks a single member of the public, submitted a trial budget absent a strategic plan and voted to hike taxes on food. This is the wrong direction for a city in crisis, and I have voted against those increases.

Phoenix is trying to solve its budget shortfall by shuttering programs and bringing back a 2 percent food tax (which disproportionately burdens the most needy). The city manager asked employees – who average $100,000 a year in salary and benefit load – for a 3.2 percent wage cut. Firefighters and police stepped up and agreed, but at least one union is balking.

Phoenix has raised water fees 40 percent in the past five years. The department’s public testimony was that it’s not subject to budget cuts because it’s an “enterprise fund,” paid by user fees, not taxes. Then we discovered it was saving 200 positions for general fund employees who might lose their jobs in cutbacks. You – taxpayers – won’t get to even apply for those jobs until all city employees have had a chance, regardless of whether you might be more qualified.

We proposed and passed an efficiency program last summer, and I have been pushing the city to explore moving some non-core functions to the private sector, where the labor costs wouldn’t be such a taxpayer burden. An innovation task force was appointed, entirely composed of insider department heads. Not only was no expertise wanted from those who know how the private sector performs, but the public isn’t even allowed to witness deliberations. I will work to make this group open up to new ideas and examination, but from what I’ve seen so far, there is little eagerness to look hard at necessary new ways to do business.

There are bright spots. The fire department, among America’s best, is stepping up with efficiency and revenue-enhancing programs, such as selling services and sharing training with neighboring cities.

Citizens passionate about art venues and softball programs and the like are volunteering effort and dollars to keep them going. Here and there, light bulbs are popping on.

My fight will be to 1) keep down the cost of government; 2) make the city deal with its unsustainable labor cost bubble by shifting non-core functions to the private sector and 3) push for a strategic plan that will serve as a road map to navigate this new economy.

I invite you to join me.

 

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills, Arcadia, Biltmore and North Central Phoenix. Reach him at (602) 262-7491 or council.district.6@phoenix.gov.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Pack Rat Treasure: Ordinary and Odd

The New Museum’s summer show “The Keeper” explores the complex relationships we have with the things we collect. Why do we amass certain objec…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 8:47 pm @ http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/07/24/arts…

DNC turmoil confirms warnings: Hackers are targeting campaigns

The downfall of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz marks a groundbreaking moment that cybersecurity experts hav…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 8:20 pm @ http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/dnc-turmoil-…

ACLU praises new Illinois limits on cellphone surveillance

SPRINGFIELD – A new Illinois law limits how police can use devices that cast a wide net in gathering cellphone data and are at the center of a…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 8:19 pm @ http://m.nwherald.com/2016/07/23/aclu-praises-new-…

Kathryn Bertine Had It All Figured Out

For Kathryn Bertine, the plan was the thing. To the people who knew her, though, what mattered was how she went about realizing it: With cheer…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 7:55 pm @ http://www.bicycling.com/womens-cycling/people/kat…

Valley fire departments respond to series of near-drownings involving kids Sunday

PHOENIX - The importance of watching children around water hit home Sunday for families across the Valley. Fire departments responded to at le…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 7:50 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/state/valley-fire-depart…

Dallas Cowboys Bus Involved In Fatal Crash In Arizona

Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – According to Las Vegas CBS affiliate 8NewsNow, a Dallas Cowboys bus was involved i…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 7:46 pm @ http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/07/24/dallas-cowboys-…

Tempe police investigating after woman drowns Sunday afternoon

TEMPE, AZ - Police are investigating after a woman was found at the bottom of a pool Sunday afternoon. Tempe police said a significant other o…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 6:43 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-southeast-valley/…

WNBA Drops Fines for Players Who Wore Protest Shirts

The WNBA has reversed its decision to fine the teams and players who wore black protest warm-up shirts saying “Alton Sterling,” ”Philando Cast…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 6:19 pm @ http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/07/wnba-…

Arizona Department of Public Safety investigating deadly crash on US 93 near Kingman

KINGMAN, AZ - Troopers are investigating a deadly crash on US 93 between Kingman and Las Vegas, NV on Sunday. The Arizona Department of Public…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 5:54 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-northern-az/other…

The latest list of speakers at the Democratic convention

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton shared Sunday the Democratic National Convention's updated list of speakers scheduled to addres…

Published: July 24, 2016 - 5:49 pm @ http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-latest-list-…

Facebook

ahwatukee.com on Facebook

Twitter

ahwatukee.com on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to ahwatukee.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px

Most Popular

Online poll

Loading…