The Phoenix City Council has approved a $1.9 billion spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, which includes additional funding for public safety, services to the homeless, parks, community arts programs and cricket. Councilman Jim Waring cast the lone “no” vote, stating that the budget allocated too much money for social services “while our roads are crumbling.” The budget also includes $114 million for raises for city workers to address retention and hiring challenges. A significant portion of the $114 million is to meet the recommendations of a city employee compensation study that identifies ways for Phoenix to compete with the private and public sectors for talent.
As mentioned in an article from The Foothills Focus, the Phoenix City Council has approved a $1.9 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. The plan includes additional funding for public safety, services for the homeless, parks and community arts programs, and even cricket.
The spending plan was approved by an 8-1 vote, with Councilman Jim Waring casting the lone “no” vote. Waring expressed concerns that the plan allocated too much money for social services “while our roads are crumbling.” Despite his concerns, Waring acknowledged that the spending plan had a “focus on things that I think our residents are noticing.”
One notable aspect of the spending plan is that 85% of the $134 million surplus in the 2023-24 budget will be spent on raises for city workers. This is to address retention and hiring challenges occurring in all city departments. City Budget and Research Director Amber Williamson stated that $114 million for raises is necessary to meet the challenges posed by a 17% vacancy rate in the city workforce.
“We want to invest in our employees to continue to develop the best workforce we can to deliver programs and services to the community,” Williamson told the council.
A significant portion of the $114 million will meet the recommendations of a city employee compensation study that is being finalized by the administration to identify ways for Phoenix to compete with the private and public sectors for talent. This includes $20 million to be set aside for potential employee compensation increases in FY 2024-25 and beyond.
Of the roughly $20 million in surplus cash that remains, $5 million has been set aside to build up the city’s reserves. The remaining $15 million will be used for various programs, including $7.6 million for the continuity of services for vulnerable populations. As mentioned in City Manager Jeff Barton, $2.4 million of that $7.6 million will support the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Victims of Crime Act, and to expand the Behavioral Health Engagement Teams contract.
“These programs are essential in the continuation of outreach to areas of the city experiencing high need,” Barton noted.
In the endgame, the spending plan has received support from the majority of the city council. While there are concerns about the allocation of funds, particularly with regards to social services versus infrastructure, there is recognition that the plan includes investments in areas that are important to residents. With the surplus funds being used to address retention and hiring challenges, the hope is that the city can continue to provide high-quality services to its residents.