PHOENIX — The City Council has approved a plan to begin phasing out an “emergency” 2-cents-per-dollar tax on food imposed in 2010 to help address a massive budget deficit.
The council voted 8-1 Wednesday to decrease the tax to 1 cent per dollar as of Jan. 1 and let it expire, as originally planned, in April 2015.
Councilman Michael Johnson, who voted against the proposal, said residents want services such as library hours restored to the level they were before the economic downturn, something he said won’t be possible with the food tax cut.
“I was very disappointed that it was passed,” Johnson said. “The will of the people was not to end the food tax.”
Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who opposed the sales tax, said poor families who put more of their income toward food will benefit from the phaseout, in part because he said the money is now going toward raises for city workers.
“You’re going to start seeing people at the lower-income level not having to subsidize their pay raises,” he said.
The food tax, which was created in early 2010 to address a $277 million deficit on a $1 million budget, costs a family spending $150 a week on groceries about $150 per year.
The debate over the tax was polarized as opponents of repealing it raised concerns about the impact on city services. In 2011, Mayor Greg Stanton backed off a campaign promise to remove the tax, citing possible cuts to public safety programs.
In August, outgoing City Manager David Cavazos laid out a plan to make up for the estimated $33.4 million that would be lost by halving the food tax. It included refinancing the city’s debt and selling surplus land.
Greta Rogers, a Phoenix resident who addressed the council before the vote, said the best move would be continuing the food tax until its planned expiration in 2015.
“We can’t move forward in the fragile state of the finances of this city,” she said.
“I believe we are going to end up cutting services to the same people that this is supposed to help,” said Dave Meiner, another Phoenix resident. “I believe it’s irresponsible to cut our income at this time.”
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.