Ahwatukee Foothills residents called for increased transparency and increased accountability Thursday night as city of Phoenix staff presented the 2013-14 budget.

The two-hour public hearing was one of the first hosted by the city, with more than 20 scheduled to take place.

During the first hour staff gave a presentation about the food tax, which they recommend keeping until it sunsets in 2015, and during the second hour staff presented the budget.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Greta Rogers pointed out that the city is projecting a 5 percent revenue growth next year when this year the fund is 2 percent less than what was projected.

“There are three months left,” Rogers said. “We aren’t going to collect 2 percent of revenues in three months. It’s not going to rain from heaven. When you’re behind projections you don’t, as is proposed, add 5 percent more for next year… I do not think the city should raise the projected revenue any more than that which they established for this year, which presently is 2 percent below expectation.”

While the city presented the positives of the trial budget, which is balanced and has no cuts to city services, some residents complained the presentation included no actual figures about the total budget or the amount of debt or liability the city is carrying.

“The public wants more than what they saw,” said City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. “They want to see more alternatives to what was presented here. No one really wants to hear the doom and gloom anymore. They want to hear more practical solutions. That we heard loud and clear… Overall, people want to hear more alternatives, more ideas, more creativity, and more focus on areas that are non-essential.”

DiCiccio and other city council members are still researching alternatives to get rid of the city’s food tax without making cuts to police and fire.

DiCiccio said he hopes once the alternatives are made clear Mayor Greg Stanton will change his stance on the food tax and consider repealing it early.

The trial budget includes funding to help social services, city libraries and the arts.

City staff will host 20 budget hearings in all, including one online with the mayor on Wednesday, April 24.

For more information on the budget or to view the entire document, visit phoenix.gov/budget. Comments on the budget can be sent to budget.research@phoenix.gov or by calling (602) 262-4800.

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

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