The small fees meant to boost the city’s general fund and make up the budget deficit are taking effect across the city.
Water bills now contain a $1.50 city services tax for all Phoenix residents. Commercial properties pay $1.50 to $75 per month depending on the size of the meter. That tax is estimated to bring in an additional $9.5 million per year to the city’s general fund each year and has no sunset date.
“There were no taxpayer protection provisions put into that,” said City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. “Just like the city collects a jail tax and put it on the water bill, they did the same thing here. More and more the city is using — which I completely disagree with — water as a way to fund general operations. The water department was designed to fund itself. Now they are using the water bill to fund general operations. It was never designed to do that, ever.”
Water bills are not the only way the city is now generating extra funds this fiscal year. Fees at all community centers have also been doubled — though an annual pass is still only $40 for a nonresident and $20 for a resident. The city is moving parking meters to a demand-based pay system. Now the city is considering putting parking meters at hiking trails.
“They try this every two or three years and people are just furious right now,” DiCiccio said. “I don’t blame them. If you hiked every day, it could cost you $1,500 a year just to use the park. What it does is puts an even heavier burden on those people who can’t afford it.”
The locations being proposed at this point are the main Piestewa Peak access point, Echo Canyon and the Pima Canyon areas of South Mountain. All other trailheads would remain free.
DiCiccio is against the proposal for several reasons. This could create safety problems. People might be in a rush to get down the mountain to try to get to the meter before it runs out. They may also stay longer than before trying to get the most of their time. The proposal may also force more people to use trailheads located in neighborhoods so they can avoid paying a parking fee.
The proposal will go before the parks board at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in the Phoenix City Council chambers. The meeting will be informational with no formal action. DiCiccio is encouraging any residents with comments on the proposal to contact his office at email@example.com or by calling (602) 262-7491.
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