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Residents wait to voice their opinions about the City of Phoenix's budget. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix City Council listened Thursday to what people have to say about the city's sales tax on food and other issues.

Phoenix City Council Members Sal Diciccio and Michael Johnson joined Phoenix City Manager David Cavasos today during a public hearing on the city budget at the Devonshire Senior Center.

Cavasos said that the tax brings in over $50 million dollars to the city.

"Seventy percent of the money goes to public safety," he said. "The other 30 percent goes to other important programs like senior centers, youth, transit and parks and preserves."

A recent report said that ending the tax would result in a $15 million cut in public safety funds over the next couple of years. Diciccio said some of the people speaking at today's hearing want to keep the tax.

"Others wanted to essentially say, ‘Let's come up with some alternatives, and let's not keep crying wolf about police and fire,'" he said.

Many people at today's hearing called on the city council to include more funding for after school programs in the budget. Reverend Denny Silk remembered one day when he got a knock at his door.

"I opened the door, and there was a small boy standing there," said Silk. "He said, 'Do you have any kids that I can play with?' I said, 'No,' and sent him on his way."

Silk believes the child was home alone after school while both of his parents were still at work.

"I thought afterwards that this is not what our children should be doing after school. What could happen to a child going door-to-door asking strangers for someone to play with? A lot of bad things could happen."

Other people called for more money to improve streets and bike paths in Phoenix.

One man, David Barnes, encouraged the council to proceed with caution.

"All of us are like little children," he said. "We want toys and more toys and more toys. Times are still not good and I would caution against adding a lot of items to this budget."

Several similar meetings are planned through the month of April. A schedule and locations are available at phoenix.gov.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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