[Source: Scott Wong and Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Some offered ways Phoenix could save money. Others said they were willing to pay more taxes and fees to preserve critical services. Troubled by the city’s proposed budget cuts, nearly 700 residents packed the Devonshire Senior Center on Tuesday to urge city leaders to spare arts and after-school programs, libraries, senior centers, parks and public transit. Hundreds more voiced concerns at public meetings at the Maryvale and South Mountain community centers during a day that marked the first chance for residents to weigh in on the widespread cuts. The huge crowds illustrated the anxiety residents are feeling as the city prepares to slash $270 million because of the national recession and dwindling tax collections.
More than 400 people, many leaning on walkers and canes, spilled into the Devonshire auditorium in Phoenix. When it was full, officials directed the overflow crowd to the dining room, where a second, impromptu meeting was held. “Phoenix should not be allowed to deteriorate the way it did in the 1960s and 1970s,” resident Hal Stahl said. [Note: To read the full story, click here.]