What should Phoenix do with its $2.9 million budget surplus?

A year ago, Phoenix faced a grim financial future: The budget office predicted the city would face a $40-60 million budget shortfall.

But Tuesday, when Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year that will begin in July, he painted a much cheerier picture.

Because of increases in tax revenue, department efficiencies and a controversial decision to increase the term of Phoenix’s pension debt, the city was able to get its budget back to into balance — and even managed to make out with a small surplus.

The city’s total budget will be about $4 billion. It anticipates the general fund budget — the part of the city’s budget that funds things like public safety, parks and libraries — will reach $1.3 billion.

That’s about $2.9 million more than the city needs to keep city programs operating at their current pace.

In his draft budget, Zuercher proposed that the additional money be used to fund new positions in the police and fire departments, homelessness programs, a sober-living home licensing process and a few other modest additions. 

But the city is hosting 15 public meetings to hear from the public about what they’d like to see in the budget.

Here are Zuercher’s recommendations:

Fire Department: $342,000

  • Reallocating five vacant captain positions and one vacant battalion chief position into six firefighter positions. 
  • Two new fire protection engineers, three fire prevention supervisors and three fire prevention specialists. 
  • Partially fund new Fire Station 55, located at Interstate 17 and Jomax Road.

Police Department: $510,000

  • Five civilian employees to assist with the department’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center.
  • 13 new employees to assist with public records requests (these positions will be funded through reallocation of existing department resources).

Homelessness: $728,000

Chris Spahle of Downtown Phoenix Inc. talks about working with the homeless in downtown Phoenix on Jan. 6, 2017. Mark Henle/azcentral.com

Sober Living Home licensing: $235,000

  • Two business license clerk positions to assist with licensing of sober living homes and owners (the city expects to recover these costs through the fees charged to sober living homes).
  • Two citywide inspection teams to investigate complaints and violations by sober living homes.

Trees and shade: $450,000

  • Installation and maintenance of 750 more trees per year. 

Arts and culture: $189,000

  • New project management position to oversee development of the proposed Latino Cultural Center.
  • $30,000 in additional funding for the Arts Grant Program.

Library: $295,000

  • After Burton Barr Library closed in summer of 2017 because of massive flooding, the Yucca, Century, Harmon and Ocotillo branches of the library added four additional hours on Sundays. The city manager’s budget suggested those hours remain even after Burton Barr re-opens.

Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher talks about restoring the water-damaged Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, which won’t reopen until June 2018. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral

Census 2020: $151,000

  • Temporary staff to help with census counting. 

Public budget meetings

The Phoenix City Council will make final decisions about the budget in May. But before then, Phoenix residents are invited to share their thoughts on the proposed budget at one of 15 community meetings.

  • 6 p.m. on April 2, North Mountain Visitor Center, 12950 N. 7th St.
  • 8:30 a.m. on  April 3, Helen Drake Senior Center, 7600 N. 27th Ave.
  • 6 p.m. on April 3, Paradise Valley Community Center Multi-Purpose Room, 17402 N. 40th St.
  • 6 p.m. on April 3, Pendergast Community Center, 10550 W. Mariposa St.
  • 6 p.m. on April 3, Arizona School for the Arts Band Room, 1410 N. 3rd St.
  • 8 a.m. on April 4, Shadow Mountain Senior Center, 3546 E. Sweetwater Ave.
  • 6 p.m. on April 5, Sunnyslope Community Center Multi-Purpose Room, 802 E. Vogel Ave.
  • 6 p.m. on April 9, Steele Indian School Park Memorial Hall, 300 E. Indian School Road.
  • 8:30 a.m. on April 11, Senior Opportunities West Senior Center, 1220 S. 7th Ave.
  • 6 p.m. on April 11, (Spanish/ English) Maryvale Community Center Auditorium, 4420 N. 51st Ave.
  • 8:30 a.m. on April 16, Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St.
  • 10:30 a.m. on April 16, Devonshire Community Center Auditorium, 2802 E Devonshire Ave.
  • 6 p.m. on April 17, Goelet A. C. Beuf Community Center Multi Purpose Room, 3435 W. Pinnacle Peak Road.
  • 6 p.m. on April 17, Cesar Chavez High School Cafeteria, 3921 W. Baseline Road.
  • 6 p.m. on April 17, Citywide Youth Metro Tech High School Banquet Hall, 1900 W. Thomas Road.



Boehm, Jessica. “Trees? Police? Extra library hours? Phoenix debates what to do with extra $2.9 million” The Republic, March 21, 2018. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2018/03/21/phoenix-debates-2-9-million-budget-surplus-trees-police-library-homeless/442832002/