One Tuesday, January 12, the Phoenix City Council is discussing the current budget outlook at a Work Study Session, set for 2 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St., in downtown Phoenix. Review and download the meeting notice (note the meeting will now be in the Council Chambers) and the staff memo explaining the depth of the ongoing budget crisis. In a nutshell:
- The expected budget deficit for the remainder of this fiscal year and for FY 2010-2011 is $245 million, even after $156 million in cuts a year ago.
- The elimination of all programs and departments not related to public safety would still not allow a balanced budget.
- Because state-shared revenues are distributed on a two-year delay, the City faces at least several more years of cuts or no-growth budgets, even if local sales tax collections start to rebound next year (at the earliest).
- While this budget document refers to the City’s general funds, a variety of other funds that rely on sales tax collection have the same budget issues, including Transit 2000, Phoenix Parks and Preserves Initiative, Prop 1 Public Safety, and the Phoenix Convention Center.
Two related newspaper articles are available:
- The first from earlier in the week discusses the possibility of increased revenues by including food as a taxable item (Phoenix is one of only three Valley communities that doesn’t tax food). Council members quoted in the article make it clear that they are waiting for the public to weigh in before making such a move.
- The second article, from Saturday’s paper, discusses the impact of the economic downturn on the regional transit system.
While there will be a series of budget hearings over the next six weeks to discuss specific programmatic recommendations, Tuesday’s work study sessions will be an excellent opportunity to weigh in on the general direction budget cuts should take, or whether the Council should consider increasing revenues. For more information about the City’s budgeting process, click here.