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Phoenix Trial Budget: Raises, Mental Health Support, New Police Jobs

If the City Council approves the trial budget, Phoenix employees will get most of the projected $153 million general fund surplus.

The biggest chunk of money — $118 million — is to increase employee compensation. Current labor contracts expire June 30, and the new budget will take effect July 1.

The city manager’s trial budget also includes $15 million to expand the fire department’s community advocacy program, which focuses on responding to people experiencing mental and behavioral health problems.

On Tuesday, Mary Jo Whitfield, vice president of integrated health with Jewish Family and Children’s Services, told the council the proposed public-private partnership should help city employees.

“Increasing the number of crisis intervention units that are going to be working with the city will free up Phoenix PD and Fire to do the jobs that they were originally hired to do,” she said.

The police department is down more than 325 civilian positions since the Great Recession, according to the  city’s manager trial budget, which includes adding 75 positions to ensure data reporting compliance, perform administrative booking functions, manage a new early identification and intervention system and handle public records requests.

“The number of public records requests is increasing ever since the body worn camera program rolled out,” said Amber Williamson, budget director. “We’re struggling with trying to get those requests out in a timely manner and that unit actually needs additional resources in order to make that happen.”

The proposal includes a new victim services caseworker for relatives of those who died as a result of officer-involved shootings or in custody deaths. And there is $500,000 set aside for police reform “to improve community trust, and provide a comprehensive review of the Phoenix Police department. This review will include a thorough evaluation of practices and policies, actively solicit stakeholder and community feedback and provide recommendations for improvement.”

If approved, the Fire Department would add 15 civilian positions made up of paramedic trainers, radio technicians and 911 dispatchers.

Other new general fund proposals:

  • $3 million for administrative accountability
  • $2.9 million for building community and responding to growth
  • $2.8 million for climate change and heat readiness
  • $2.7 million for COVID-19 response and resiliency
  • $2.7 million for affordable housing and homelessness

Fourteen virtual community hearings will be held in April before the council votes on the proposed budget in May. Residents can also email comments to  [email protected] or leave a message at 602.262.4800.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.