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Cuts, fee increases possible to balance Phoenix budget

PHOENIX — The Phoenix City Council is looking for ways to balance the budget.

The council held its first hearing about the budget Tuesday.

“We awkwardly picked April Fool’s Day for the first budget hearings, but this is no joke,” said Councilwoman Kate Gallego.

Gallego said the city faces a $38 million budget deficit. City Manager Ed Zyercher released a trial budget that slashes $29 million and includes cuts at most of the city’s community, recreation and senior centers, as well as three city pools.

Public safety jobs may also be on the chopping block, and pay and benefit cuts to city employees are also a possibility.

“I’ve asked the city manager to look at some changes on the revenue side to see if we could prevent some of these cuts,” Gallego said.

Gallego hinted that some of those revenue changes could involve taxes.

“Or we could look at different fees to make sure that we accurately recover some of the costs that outside businesses are incurring on the city, so that our taxpayers aren’t subsidizing,” she said.

Gallego said she doesn’t believe that the final solution will only include cuts to balance the budget.

“I would guess that it may be a mix of cuts and trying to look creatively to nonprofit partners,” Gallego said. “We could try to see if other people are willing to step up and take over some of the service that the city has been doing.”