DiCiccio blasts city on proposed budget

Phoenix councilmember and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Sal DiCiccio holds up the city's budget Thursday during a hearing on the subject. DiCiccio voted against the food tax saying there are better ways for the city to operate its financial house.

An effort to get emergency funding to go toward domestic violence victims before the holidays failed to pass a vote before a city of Phoenix subcommittee on Wednesday.

Phoenix City Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski and Councilwoman Thelda Williams identified $100,000 to go immediately to help the Sojourner Center, a Phoenix shelter for domestic abuse victims that has recently shuttered 80 beds because of a $470,000 shortfall in its funding. During a Public Safety, Veterans, Transparency and Ethics Subcommittee meeting on Dec. 12 Councilmen Michael Johnson and Daniel Valenzuela asked for a Request for Proposal (RFP) to make sure the funds would go to an organization that could use it most efficiently and provide services for the most needy.

The vote was tied two-two, which means the issue will go to the full City Council next week. DiCiccio is not assigned to the subcommittee and so he was not part of the vote.

“We want to make domestic violence a top priority for the city of Phoenix,” DiCiccio said. “I am confident even after what occurred today that we will get the votes to make domestic violence a top priority and create a plan that makes us the best in the nation. It was all about delay in politics today.”

DiCiccio said he did hear from all the council members assigned to the subcommittee a desire to help domestic violence victims, but that the delay was disappointing.

A representative from the Sojourner Center told the subcommittee that the center’s funding allocation from the state was cut drastically two weeks before its fiscal year began. The shelter now only has funding to provide 144 beds, versus the 280 they had at their height. While $100,000 would not allow them to open any of those beds back up, it would help them to provide better services to those they can take in and it would keep them from having to shutter any more beds. The center is working on a fundraising strategy and is working off its rainy day fund.

While DiCiccio, Williams and Nowakowski were hoping for $100,000 to be awarded to Sojourner immediately the council members are also hoping for a long-term plan to help shelters in Phoenix. They want to create a campaign to bring in another $400,000 from businesses and citizens. The funds would be used to help the Sojourner, De Colores, Elim House, UMOM and Chrysalis shelters.

“I can’t imagine turning away a family and kids who are afraid and have nowhere to go this time of year,” said Councilwoman Williams in a statement.

The issue will be presented to the full City Council on Dec. 19.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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