City of Phoenix holds public meetings to discuss budget

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The city of Phoenix is trying to fix a $38 million budget deficit.

Wednesday's public hearing at a community center at 40th Street and Bell Road opened with a video. It broke down the $37.7 million gap and showed places the city could make cuts.

Councilman Jim Waring hosted the public meeting in his district at the Paradise Valley Community Center, which is on the chopping block.

City Manager Ed Zuercher took notes as roughly 55 Phoenix residents spoke into the microphone.

"There's gotta be better ways to save money than cutting it from our children and from our seniors. There's just no sense in this at all," one woman said.

The Paradise Valley Community Center is one of 13 community centers around the city that would be closed if the proposed budget passes.

"I do think that this budget does, yes, try to balance the budget on the backs of lower-level employees who didn't get, you know, a $56,000 raise," another resident said, referring to Zuercher's recent salary increase.

But Phoenix officials say the trial budget is not set in stone, and they hold meetings like this in hopes that residents will have some creative solutions.

"That's why we have public meetings, so that the public can come out and give their perspectives, their opinions, and the council can take that into consideration when making their decisions," said Inger Erickson, Deputy Director of the Phoenix City Parks and Recreation Department.

Residents voiced their concerns for closures of community centers and lack of street repairs. They spoke out against the money spent for Super Bowl security.

Many people wanted to bring back the food tax to keep community centers like the Paradise Valley facility open.

"They're not just for fun; they provide a lifeline to people," one citizen said. "If they can't come here, what are they going to do?"

The city of Phoenix will continue to hold public meetings through the month of April, followed by a council vote on the budget in May.