City budget shortfall forcing leaders to make tough decisions

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Budget gap could mean layoffs, closures and cuts

PHOENIX - It is a sobering look at what the City of Phoenix faces with a $269 million budget shortfall.

This means layoffs, closures and extreme cuts. Although there is no talk about losing police officers and firefighters yet, this is described as a very desperate situation.

One city official says you could help fix this by shopping. Phoenix City Manager Frank Fairbanks says, "Shop Phoenix is something everyone can do."

It is what you are being asked to do to help combat a $269 million budget shortfall in Phoenix where sales tax revenue is down more than 10% from last year.

Fairbanks explains, "In just one month we dropped 20%."

It is no wonder sales tax revenue is down. After all, retail and restaurant sales are way down too. Just ask Christos Komitis at Cyprus Grill where business has dropped 5%.

Christos admits, "What you do is your best everyday in order to make it through."

He is optimistic, after all. He adds, "Eventually people need to eat. Nothing you can do about it."

He, like the city council, just hopes when people eat or shop they do so in Phoenix.

Fairbanks says, "If you live in Phoenix, you shop in Phoenix, you're paying for your police officer, firefighter, your librarian, your park ranger, your social service provider."

Picking up a coat before heading out of town, Paula Smith has just that in mind.

She says, "I was hoping it would be on sale but it wasn't, but I still bought it here in Phoenixkeep my money here at home."

After all, Phoenix is where more than 1,000 jobs are being cut including roughly 138 from city libraries and 478 from parks and recreation.

This will result in library hours scaled back and some swimming pool closures.

Despite it all, Mayor Phil Gordon says the city's continued growth and quality of life is what is keeping the blow from being any worse. He plants, "To go into this horrible economy towards the end and be out towards the beginning, which if there is any silver lining that, is it."

There will be 14 public hearings all over Phoenix during January as city leaders are looking for your input. Their goal is to finalize a budget in February and then implement it in March.

For more information on those meetings and to look at the budget, .