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Phoenix residents speak out about city budget

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

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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