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Updated Apr 2, 2014 - 6:58 am

Cuts, fee increases possible to balance Phoenix budget

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix City Council is looking for ways to balance the budget.

The council held its first hearing about the budget Tuesday.

"We awkwardly picked April Fool's Day for the first budget hearings, but this is no joke," said Councilwoman Kate Gallego.

Gallego said the city faces a $38 million budget deficit. City Manager Ed Zyercher released a trial budget that slashes $29 million and includes cuts at most of the city's community, recreation and senior centers, as well as three city pools.

Public safety jobs may also be on the chopping block, and pay and benefit cuts to city employees are also a possibility.

"I've asked the city manager to look at some changes on the revenue side to see if we could prevent some of these cuts," Gallego said.

Gallego hinted that some of those revenue changes could involve taxes.

"Or we could look at different fees to make sure that we accurately recover some of the costs that outside businesses are incurring on the city, so that our taxpayers aren't subsidizing," she said.

Gallego said she doesn't believe that the final solution will only include cuts to balance the budget.

"I would guess that it may be a mix of cuts and trying to look creatively to nonprofit partners," Gallego said. "We could try to see if other people are willing to step up and take over some of the service that the city has been doing."

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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