From the desk of
Vice Mayor Thelda Williams
The city of Phoenix budget process is recognized for its openness and transparency. Over a three-week period in April, we held 15 community hearings throughout the city, in every Council district. In addition, several presentations were made to organizations, neighborhood groups, advisory boards and at my monthly breakfast with district residents. We had many residents attend and several hundred comments through comments at hearings, letters, phone calls, emails and social media messages. I want to thank you for participating in the budget process, your feedback is valuable and truly reflects the priorities of Phoenix residents.
Some of the comments from residents that we heard most often asked that we preserve existing services, increase funding for homelessness and homelessness clean-ups, increase funding for arts and public art maintenance, increased library access and hours, hire more police officers and firefighters, and increase funding for street maintenance and repair.
I am happy to report that the budget preserves existing city services and makes significant investments in public safety, homelessness and other important community services including neighborhoods and libraries.
Police and Fire staffing continues to be the single most important priority for the City Council and the community. Since public safety hiring resumed in late 2015, Police and Fire filled staffing levels have increased by 105 filled police positions and 73 filled fire positions. The budget continues the trend to provide the resources the Police Department needs to reach and maintain a total filled count of 3,125 sworn positions. This reflects the increase of 177 officers over the current filled count of 2,948. For Fire, the budget reflects the resources the Fire Department needs to maintain a total filled count of 1,654, which is required to ensure compliance with the 2016 SAFER Grant.
The budget includes funding and staffing needed to expand the hours of temporary Fire State 55, near Interstate 17 and Jomax Road in North Phoenix from part-time to full-time operations every day on a 24-hour schedule. This addition is expected to improve response times and provide the resources needed to respond to the increasing demand in the service area. With this addition, the projected filled staffing level for fire will increase from 1,654 to 1,668. This request will be funded through the reallocation of existing overtime and other miscellaneous savings and therefore does not increase the overall General Fund budget.
Also, as an update to a water issue in the nearby New River and Desert Hills area, in late April, the city extended a deadline that will allow water haulers to supply water while an EPCOR sourced station is completed to replace the temporary city supply standpipe site. Prior to the final meeting for approval, the Anthem Community Council realized that the Army Corps of Engineers had a natural and open space restrictive covenant over the site property. While the appropriate agencies worked through the issue and Anthem received a permit to allow EPCOR to proceed with construction, it delayed the expected completion date.
I want to thank Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates for his dedication and hard work on this issue. His leadership was invaluable as we worked to explore options to extend the deadline into until the end of August. Enough progress had been made to ensure the city that a permanent water station will be constructed and completed in the coming months.
If you have any questions or comments, contact my office at [email protected] or call 602-262-7444.
Vice Mayor Thelda Williams serves as the District 1 representative which encompasses north west Phoenix from Northern Avenue to New River Road; and the Interstate 17 to 67th Avenue.