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Budget spares police, fire but cuts deep

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Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010 12:00 am

Police officers and firefighters are safe, as is the Pecos Park Senior Center, in the newly revised budget made public Thursday by Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos.

But the newly proposed budget contains $64 million in budget cuts and eliminates 448 city jobs.

And the budget is based upon several budget assumptions, including  the expansion of the city’s current 2 percent sales tax onto food and a 3.2 percent wage-and-benefit concession that so far just five of the seven labor groups in the city have agreed to.

The city began the budget process looking at an expected $240 million shortfall. Thanks to the sales tax and wage concessions, plus reductions in administrators’ salaries, and efficiencies, plus tapping every source of funds available, the deficit was reduced to the $64 million.

Still, the budget documents going out to the Cty Council members in preparation of a final vote Tuesday includes a warning that by draining every fund available there will be little reserves, and public safety positions could be back on the chopping block by fall if budget assumptions don’t pan out.

Even with the more modest budget cuts, parks will close earlier, libraries will have shorter hours and fewer staff, and street maintenance will be reduced.

The ALEX neighborhood circulator bus route also will be cut by 15 percent, following last year's 25 percent cut, and the summer PAC programs will all be eliminated.  The good news is that the winter PAC program during the school year was reduced, but not eliminated in area’s including Ahwatukee Foothills where patrons pay a larger amount to cover the program’s costs.

Prior to the council's vote, there will be a budget discussion at 10 a.m. in the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street in downtown Phoenix.

For more information, visit http://www.phoenix.gov/">www.phoenix.gov.

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