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Phoenix won’t spend $80 million surplus despite resident pleas

Phoenix has an $80 million surplus going into its next fiscal year and some residents don’t like the council’s plan to save it for future years.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, more than 30 people urged leaders to spend less on police and more on chilled water fountains outdoors and services to address and prevent homelessness.

“We've asked for a water station outside the Maryville community center. We've asked you to expand the heat relief center hours until 10pm,” a speaker said.

Another speaker said, "Right now you’re actively pushing unsheltered and low-income residents further and further away from downtown Phoenix while providing little to no resource to support the people you’re pushing out and the neighborhood you're pushing them into."

“What will help keep our people safe is giving them access to public resources like water and shelter and legal assistance in case of eviction,” another speaker said.

The council approved the city manager’s budget, which will set aside the surplus to help with expected deficits. Phoenix estimates it will lose about $100 million annually due to changes in state laws, including a ban on cities collecting sales tax on residential rents. 

City Manager Jeff Barton told council members, “This budget that you’ve put forward today gives us a fighting chance of being able to withstand the loss of that revenue, and to ensure that these vital services that our residents have come to depend on will be there in their hour of need.”

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