Public sounds off on budget cuts and food tax at hearing

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX -- The first in a series of more than a dozen public hearings on the budget, a potential food tax and possible cuts to city services, including the police and fire departments, took place at Carl Hayden High School Wednesday night.

These hearings are meant to offer the public the opportunity to weigh in on what the city wants to do to try and close the $100 million budget gap.

Every department in the city is facing cuts. The Phoenix Fire Department alone could lose 150 firefighters. The Phoenix Police Department could lose up to 12 percent of its staffs. That translates to hundreds of jobs.

Parks and libraries are also on the chopping block.

In addition to the cuts, the City Council has approved a 2 percent food tax, hoping to generate some $50 million in revenue. Right now, that tax is slated to go into effect on April 1 and then sunset after five years. The council however, could reverse its decision based on the input from public hearings.