[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix leaders received an unwelcome gift just before Christmas: Word that the city’s budget shortfall could be as much as $20 million worse than previously expected. And with tax-collection figures for the bleak holiday shopping season still unknown, the record budget gap could grow even wider than this week’s $260 million to $270 million projection.
In September, Phoenix officials had pegged the estimated deficit at $250 million, or about 20% of Phoenix’s $1.2 billion general fund, which pays for police, parks and other basic services. “Clearly since September, the economy has continued to deteriorate,” said Deputy City Manager Ed Zuercher, who oversees the budget department. City sales-tax revenue from January through October was about $330 million, $20 million less than was collected during the same period in 2007. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]