Mar 22, 2023 - News

Phoenix city manager proposes $114 million to boost employee pay

Illustration of Phoenix City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Phoenix city manager Jeff Barton released his $1.9 billion general fund trial budget Tuesday, suggesting the city use most of its anticipated $134 million surplus to raise employees wages.

  • The trial budget is considered the starting point in the budget process. Council members will likely make changes before adopting it in June.

Why it matters: About 17% of city positions are vacant, according to a staff report, leading to longer police response times, delayed bulk garbage collections and other service shortfalls.

  • Barton attributes the city's staffing problem to the tight labor market and below-market wages.

State of play: Phoenix expects to generate enough city tax revenue to continue all services in the current year's budget plus $134 million for the council to spend as it chooses.

By the numbers: Barton recommended about $5 million of the surplus be held as contingency for future needs and the remaining money go toward:

  • $114 million for increased employee compensation to recruit and retain staff in critical services;
  • $7.4 million to continue programs that help low-income families, crime victims, people experiencing homelessness and people with behavioral health issues;
  • $3.8 million for 31 new fire department positions and other public safety needs;
  • $2.8 million to expand the city's gated alleyway program, support local performing arts programs, hire overnight park rangers and increase security at libraries.

What they're saying: Multiple council members said they want city staff to evaluate its homeless services budget to determine if more money is needed, or if existing funding could be re-allocated to help more people.

What's next: The city will host 11 community budget hearings between April 3-15.

  • Barton's trial budget set aside $1 million of the surplus for ideas generated at the hearings.

What we're watching: Two new council members, Kesha Hodge Washington and Kevin Robinson, will be inaugurated before the council votes on the budget this summer.

  • We're curious to see how and whether their priorities make it into the city's annual financial plan.

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