Fee increases, taxes on table to deal with Phoenix budget deficit


by Dennis Welch

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Posted on April 24, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 24 at 12:46 PM

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix City Council held its final meeting Tuesday on proposed budget cuts and fee increases meant to address the city’s $38 million budget deficit.

Among the new fees and taxes proposed for bringing in new revenue are parking meters at public hiking destinations, a five cent tax on plastic grocery bags and increased prices on water usage for property owners. City leaders believe these changes could generate $12 million in revenue this year.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said the proposals are not final decisions, but the city is looking at increases rather than cuts to reduce the gap in the budget. The public has been critical of proposed cuts to city safety programs and other services.

"We’ve taken a huge amount of testimony from people asking that the mayor and council not cut senior programs, not cut youth programs, not to close our pools," Stanton said.

But some Phoenix residents are frustrated that these new proposals are even on the table. Otto Weispsenning said he hikes the Piestewa Peak at Dreamy Draw Park two or three times a week, and he thinks adding the parking meters would be a bad idea.

"It’s a city park," he said. "So it should be open to the city. It should be open for free, and that’s what we pay taxes for in the city -- to use the park."

Weispsenning blamed bad city management for the shortfall and sad he hopes city leaders can do a better job in the future.

"They seem to use a lot of money for a lot of frivolous stuff," he said.