[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — Graffiti could gain a foothold in Phoenix because of several proposed budget cuts. Cuts in four departments could affect the city’s ability to respond to graffiti, often seen as a precursor to worse crime. Neighborhood Services, Arts & Culture, Parks and Recreation, and Police have identified potential budget cuts that affect graffiti control. “These are all quality of life issues that impact neighborhoods and the public,” said Erynn Crowley, deputy director of the Neighborhood Services Department.
In Neighborhood Services, three inspectors who spend time making sure stores have graffiti supplies locked up could lose their jobs. The employees also check adult-business licenses, enforce mobile- and street-vending rules, and administer laws at special events. The department now will react to complaints instead of actively checking for violations. Savings are estimated at $421,000 this year and next.
In Arts, the public-art preservation program could be reduced. One of its functions is to clean up graffiti and vandalism on public-art pieces. The program, if the cuts are ultimately approved, would be reduced to half the size it was two years ago. The cuts would total $60,000.
In Parks, ending a softball program would result in the elimination of maintenance staff in northwest and northeast Phoenix. If the program ends in July, as proposed, the maintenance cuts will result in longer intervals for graffiti removal, among other items. Savings are pegged at $179,000.
Finally, the Police Department is proposing the elimination of the bias crimes/graffiti squad. The squad investigates crimes related to prejudice and graffiti, which often is the result of gangs marking their territory. Savings in the department would total $710,000.
Altogether, the cuts would target 15 jobs and save $1.4 million. [Note: Read the full article at Department cuts could hurt Phoenix anti-graffiti efforts.]