Phoenix officials say they've managed to trim a total of $10 million from the city's general fund operating budget in cuts and streamlining.
However, City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, whose district includes Ahwatukee Foothills, said they're not going after the big game: public employees' compensation.
"I think it's good that people are looking at operations in city government," DiCiccio said of efforts of the city's Innovation and Efficiency Task Force, a group of private-sector volunteers and city staff formed in January to find potential cost savings. "They still have yet to conquer the largest expense, which is the cost of labor."
City officials recently released a list of money-saving accomplishments developed by the committee for fiscal years 2009-10 and 2010-11, such as:
- Eliminating 546 vacant city jobs to save $1.4 million.
- Consolidating some departments and city functions to save $1.7 million.
- Saving $860,000 by transferring the "Reserve-A-Ride" program from the Human Services Department to Public Transit.
- Eliminating paper pay stubs for a savings of $85,000.
- Saving $2.2 million through organizational reviews of all departments to streamline services.
- Rebidding life insurance contracts to save $797,000.
- And saving nearly $800,000 by requiring more than 100 private-sector business partners to take a 3 percent reduction in contract fees.
The recommendations will mean an extra $10 million for the city's general fund operating budget, said Mayor Phil Gordon.
"Through creativity and hard work, more than $10 million will go to parks, libraries, public safety, senior centers and other critical services," Gordon said. "Our hard-working employees and business partners are finding great solutions for continuing to provide excellent service to our community."
DiCiccio said many of the recommendations are positive steps, but he objected to characterizing the elimination of vacant positions as savings.
"Only in government can you cut a position that doesn't exist and say it's saving the taxpayer money," he said. "It's like saying that because I didn't buy a new car this year, I saved myself $25,000."