The city of Phoenix, Arizona was surprised to find out that they had almost $2 million in excess funding. The city manager, Ed Zuercher, has recommended to save the money or create more jobs including expanding Phoenix’s police force.
However, after public meetings, many people have other ideas on what the money should be used for. One of the public meetings at the Sunnyslope Community Center, on April 20, had almost thirty people in attendance who wanted the city to spend the extra money in a variety of different ways. Some of the ideas included public funding for children and teen programs, like after-school activities. Also, others wanted the local libraries to be open every day of the week, and have longer operating hours.
The fact of the matter is that the city of Phoenix is actually below the amount of police officers they need, so many believe the extra money will not be extra for long. In 2009, Phoenix stopped hiring police officers, and didn’t start rehiring until 2015. Because of these statistics, many vocal community members hope that Phoenix will exceed the number of police officers, so they will have a surplus of safety in their growing city. Jeff Barton, the director of Budge and Research spoke to the deficit of officers: “While we are down from our peak level of staffing in the police department, we also are significantly down in our call for service.”
Another thought is to spend the money to help the homeless population in Arizona. The Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) have seen an influx of homeless people entering into their shelters. With the growing number of homeless people in the state, due to its warm weather, some believe the excess money should go to this program. However, the city already gives almost 15% of its budget to help the homeless, like the CASS. Some wonder if Phoenix has already done enough to the help the homeless in this area.