[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix’s no-drama City Council typically shows a united front on major issues: support for downtown development, light rail, and a domestic-partner registry. That’s why last week’s split 5-4 vote to hike fees for trash pick up and other solid-waste collection took some by surprise. The decision, which allows the city to avoid making significant service cuts, marked the first sign of fissures within the usually cohesive council as members grapple with slashing budgets for the general fund and special funds like the one for solid waste. The council plans to vote Feb. 3 to determine what cuts are required to close a $270 million shortfall in this and next fiscal 2009-2010 budget.
The trash rate increase for single-family homes represents 5.3% or $1.35 a month. It means homeowners will now pay $26.80 a month, up from $25.45, for things like weekly garbage and bulk-trash pick up and recycling. The council also increased commercial fees by $2 a month, to $38.25. Council members Michael Johnson, Peggy Neely, Michael Nowakowski, Tom Simplot, and Thelda Williams supported the rate hikes. Mayor Phil Gordon, along with council members Maria Baier, Claude Mattox and Greg Stanton, voted against it. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]