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Phoenix leaders move forward with budget despite uncertainty at the AZ Capitol

As Arizona lawmakers take a monthlong break, Phoenix leaders are moving forward on a budget with some uncertainty. 

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Laura Pastor and Mayor Kate Gallego expressed concern about state lawmakers potentially stopping cities from taxing residential rent.

“It would be a cut of more than $80 million to the city of Phoenix and hit targeted areas, including our transportation investment, the multiple public safety initiatives that our voters have passed at the ballot, parks and preserve funding, as well as our general fund,” Gallego said.

In addressing their concerns, City Manager Jeff Barton said, “I think we’ve made very strong commitments to our community and very strong commitments to our labor partners and I think we need to honor those commitments. I think whatever happens at the state Legislature, we’ve got enough runway to figure it out.”

State lawmakers are on break until mid-June, the same week Phoenix must formally adopt its budget. The city's next fiscal year begins July 1.

On Tuesday, the city council approved a $2 billion dollar general fund budget that includes $114 million for additional employee compensation. Phoenix’s overall vacancy rate is 17%. Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari says boosting pay will help employees and those who rely on city services.

“Our planning department will be able to streamline and approve housing projects much faster. We’ll be hiring more park rangers to keep our parks safe, which residents are really excited about,” she said.

The city manager reported a $134 million surplus, and the council approved spending this way:

  • $114 million in extra compensation
  • $7.6 million for continuity of services for vulnerable populations
  • $3.8 million for public safety responsiveness and criminal justice support
  • $3.6 million for healthy neighborhoods and community enrichment
  • $5 million for the contingency, often called the rainy day fund.
As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.