Phoenix took in $46 million more revenue this year than last year, but is facing a $39 million deficit? Doesn’t make sense to anyone. Because it is not real.
Here is something else that doesn’t make sense. More cuts to police and their compensation. I want to make one point abundantly clear — I will not support any cuts to our police officers’ pay, compensation or positions.
It has been a volatile start to 2014 for our men and women in blue. Stories of incredible heroism and heart breaking tragedy have reached our ears within the first three months. These brave individuals and their families endure unparalleled sacrifice each and every day. The Phoenix Police Department deserves to know that the Phoenix City Council stands with them.
We are down nearly 500 police officers and violent crime is up. Our officers are being asked to do more with less every day to protect our families. The situation has become so dire our community action officers, liaisons to the public, have been reassigned to oversee patrols.
Phoenix PD is our first, and sometimes only, line of defense. They did not create the budget fiasco, the politicians, the mayor and City Council did. The politicians need to balance the budget without doing it on the backs of our officers or the public — no tax increases or cuts in services.
I believe two ways exist to achieve closing the $39 million gap without cuts to our police officers or taxpayers’ pocket books. More work may be required to completely close the gap but these are sensible, logical solutions that are in the best interest of everyone. Here is my formal letter to City Manager Ed Zuercher (http://phoenix.gov/webcms/groups/internet/@inter/@pcc/@dist6/documents/web_content/policelettered.pdf). In the letter I highlight the following:
1. Begin resolving the deficit by cutting vacant civilian positions. The city budgets for an inordinate vacant positions every year and eliminating those could save millions of dollars. By eliminating those positions, we not only help the city’s deficit today, but also help the structural deficit these positions create.
2. Sell non-essential surplus property, such as vacant lots and vacant buildings owned by the city. This project has been in the works for over a year and should have been done very long ago. Presenting only three properties in a year’s time is insufficient. The properties will not only generate income through physical property sales but also put them back into the tax rolls.
Additionally, there is currently a petition in front of the City Council demanding no cuts to police. I was the first to sign this petition. I encourage the mayor and council members to make the same commitment. To date, only Vice Mayor Waring, Councilman Nowakowski and I have signed the petition.
Our police officers are the finest in the country. They protect our families, educate our children and remain active in our communities, even when off-duty. They deserve a commitment from the City Council to protect their interests. It’s not that complicated.
• Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at email@example.com or (602) 262-7491.