Guns & Butter: Services vs. Pensions & Healthcare

http://www.azcentral.com/story/laurieroberts/2014/04/01/phoenix-ed-zuercher-pools-budget/7177877/
Phoenix pools to close while city manager swims in cash?
Laurie Roberts, The Republic | azcentral.com April 1, 2014

The city of Phoenix tonight kicks off two weeks of public hearings on its proposed budget.


Look for more cuts to the stuff that citizens care about as the city struggles to keep up with employee pension and health-care costs in a still-sluggish economy.


In all, City Manager Ed Zuercher – the guy who tomorrow will likely be getting a $56,000 pay raise — is proposing $29 million in service cuts to help cover a $37.7 million shortfall.


He’s proposing to close three senior centers and three city pools in low-income areas. One of those pools could remain open for most of the summer what the city will be shelling out for Zuercher’s pay raise.


He’s proposing to shutter seven recreation centers and two neighborhood centers, which offer summer programming for kids. Look for reductions in fire code inspections and crisis counseling but if you’re a victim trying to navigate the courts, don’t look for much help. Look for cuts to graffiti removal and neighborhood code enforcement.


The proposed budget calls for spending $19 million on employee raises and “longevity” bonuses next year, though the city is still negotiating those contracts.


Zuercher has asked the unions to accept a 3 percent cut to pay and benefits. The seven employee unions are balking and I can’t say that I blame them, given Zuercher’s pending 22 percent pay raise, which comes before the City Council on Wednesday.


It’s hard to justify cutting the pay of a police officer while the Zuercher laughs all the way to the bank.

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