[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.]
[Source: City of Phoenix] — Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department’s “Graffiti Busters” program took the top prize in the Physical Revitalization & Beautification category of the 2009 Best Neighborhood Program Awards, at the Neighborhoods, USA conference in Spokane, WA. The department’s “Good Neighbor” program placed third in the Social Revitalization/ Neighborliness category. “We are proud of the impact these two programs have had on the lives of the residents of Phoenix,” said Jerome Miller, director, Neighborhood Services. “This national recognition honors the cooperative spirit of Neighborhood Services staff and residents, working together to make Phoenix the best it can be.”
The “Graffiti Busters” program was created as a partnership between department staff and residents to identify and remove graffiti as fast as it appears. Last year, department staff removed more than 52,000 tagged sites. Staff also trained residents and provided the tools necessary to help in the fight. The “Good Neighbor” program was created to inspire residents to participate in neighborhood improvement projects through a series of educational & self-awareness oriented classes and workshops.
Neighborhoods, USA is a national nonprofit organization committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations. For more information, click here.
[Source: Cathryn Creno, Arizona Republic] — The City of Phoenix now has a Web page where people can search for ways to volunteers at city parks, social service programs, libraries, and more. The site was launched Monday in response from calls from citizens wanting to volunteer time to programs in the wake of the city budget crisis, said Deborah Dillon, the city’s education program director. The opportunities listed include a program to guide visitors at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, a graffiti cleanup program, the Phoenix Police reserves, and the volunteer gardeners at parks, including the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix. Training typically is provided to most city volunteers.
Dillon said the city is still in the process of trimming programs to balance an approximate $270 budget deficit and is not sure where the biggest needs are yet. And, “because we haven’t had a central place for volunteers to register their interest, I don’t know the answers to how many new volunteers have come forward,” she said. “Our first step was to put together a better website so it would be easier for them to find out volunteer opportunities.”