The Phoenix City Council voted to explore ways to increase revenue to make up for a budget deficit, including raising fees and adding taxes.
The new ideas must be posted online 60 days before any of them can be approved or disapproved by the council. Council members voted only to post them online so that the ideas can be considered.
The ideas include a new fee on grocery bags, an increase in parking meter rates, expansion of the parking meter program, increases in recreation pass fees for all ages, increases in athletic field usage fees, and an additional tax collected through utility service bills.
“When the city says, ‘This is a way to start the dialogue,’ that’s the first sign you need to run,” said City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. “That’s a way of telling taxpayers you’re about to get it stuck to you.”
DiCiccio and two other council members voted against considering ways to increase revenue. DiCiccio said this year the city is bringing in $46 million more in revenue from last year. He believes if the city were to freeze pay raises and cut vacant positions the problem could be solved.
Vice Mayor Jim Waring expressed disappointment with the new ideas. The budget, as currently proposed, includes memberships in several groups that he believes aren’t necessary and pays for lobbying groups that he says aren’t doing their job.
“We have a lot of stuff in this budget that apparently isn’t effective,” said Vice Mayor Jim Waring. “I’m conservative, but I’m willing to anti up some money for kids to use facilities at a reasonable price… We are doubling that fee to raise $80 or $90 grand that we will piddle away.”
The trial budget is currently being presented to the public in community hearings. During those hearings several community members have said they’d be willing to pay more to use the community centers if it will save them from closure. Without a revenue increase the trial budget suggests closing all of the city’s community centers to make up the deficit.
The ideas for increasing revenue were posted online April 17. The public will have 60 days to comment on the recommendations before the council can take action on them June 18. For more information on the ideas and the city manager’s trial budget, visit phoenix.gov/budget.
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