Massive budget cuts were unveiled Thursday evening that will help the city of Phoenix deal with a projected $245 million shortfall.
The proposed cuts include eliminating the senior program at Pecos Park Community Center; Cutting ALEX service by 15 percent; reducing the hours at Pecos Park Community Center from the current 65 to 40 hours a week; elimination of all Phoenix Afterschool Center programs and laying off 144 firefighters and 286 police officers.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio wasn't impressed when he saw the budget.
"This proposed budget saves the print shop but cuts police and firefighters on the street," DiCiccio said Thursday night.
South Mountain Precinct Commander Jeff Alexander said the cuts will mean 67 officer being laid off along with two lieutenants and 10 sergeants getting demoted, but that patrol officers will continue to be a top priority for the precinct, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills, and the city in general.
“Patrol is the key function of the police department,” said Alexander, who lives in Ahwatukee Foothills.
And, he said, while each precinct has to cut one Neighborhood Enforcement Team, he has no plans to eliminate the NET squad assigned to Ahwatukee Foothills, which tackles violent crime.
“I’m not pulling the NET squad out of Ahwatukee,” Alexander said.
Public Safety Director and Police Chief Jack Harris said that patrol staffing will be a priority, but that all other services will suffer.
“You cannot cut those kinds of officers and civilian staff and expect the same level of service,” he said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Fire is also facing the elimination of six engine companies, one ladder company and two ambulances, as well as supervisory staff.
Chief Bob Kahn said that two future fire stations, included in a voter-approved bond program, will be shelved for now because of the staff cuts. One of those stations was slated for 19th Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.
Harris emphasized that the cuts are proposed and could change over the next few weeks as public hearings take place before the Cty Council approves the final budget in March.
A budget hearing is set for Ahwatukee Foothills Feb. 18 at the Pecos Park Community Center.
For more information, see the Ahwatukee Foothills News Feb. 3 or visit www.ahwatukee.com
To see the proposed budget, visit www.Phoenix .gov.