Mon May 20, 2013 10:33 AM

The Republic regularly asks Phoenix City Council members and the mayor to share their thoughts on a local, state or national issue that could affect residents.

Earlier this week, The Republic reported that for the third year in a row, Phoenix leaders want to add or restore services in next year’s budget as the city continues to recover from the financial blows of the Great Recession.

City Manger David Cavazos asked for modest spending increases to beef up services, totaling about $15.7 million across all funds. The spending is a combination of new items and some “restored” programs, such as after-school programs, city leaders cut when the city faced a massive deficit in 2010.

We asked: “What one thing did you want to see funded in this year’s budget that didn’t make the cut? Why is this item important?”

“The budget has $29.9 million in new pay raises and bonuses and $23 million in previous pay raises. A whopping total of $52.9 million. More than 350 more police could have been hired, according to staff. The pay raises are shocking and the single largest expense was never mentioned nor publicly disclosed in hearings. Taxpayers, not bureaucrats, deserve this share of the budget. Restoration of after-school programs, library hours, monies to defeat homelessness and domestic violence, the elimination of the food tax, more police officers and firefighters are all worthy, but got passed over for exorbitant pay raises.”

Sal DiCiccio, District 6, east Phoenix and Ahwatukee

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“I would have liked to see our library hours expanded in the proposed budget. Libraries are a much needed community resource that provide after-school opportunities for children and teens, and social and community meeting locations for groups. However, we are moving in a positive direction, being able to restore some cut programs without tax or fee increases. Additionally, as chairman of the Finance, Efficiency and Economy Subcommittee, I continue to challenge staff to identify ways to perform more efficiently, save money and provide the same, if not an improved, level of service to the community.”

Bill Gates, District 3, northeast Phoenix

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“An increase for city employee benefits in this year’s budget. Over the past few years, city employees have taken major cuts in their salaries and benefits in order to help balance the budget. Cuts in wages, reductions in the city’s 401(a) contribution plan and tuition-reimbursement benefits along with eight hours of unpaid furloughs have been taken. This economy has been difficult for everyone, and our employees are no different. They have the same issues and concerns and live next door to us. City employees are always there to help and give back to their communities and constantly help elected officials look good.”

Michael Johnson, District 8, downtown and south Phoenix

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“During the budget hearings, my heart broke to hear a number of neighborhoods still lack basic infrastructure, like sidewalks and streetlights. I heard mothers plead for safe routes to school so their children can bike or walk without having to use the dirt shoulder. Preventive maintenance and infrastructure improvement projects have been the proverbial low-hanging fruit to cut during budget seasons. The streets department anticipates a $30 million drop this year in funding for such projects. I’m afraid that by avoiding the small, up front cost of maintaining and improving existing infrastructure, we will face much higher costs of total replacement in the near future.”

Michael Nowakowski, District 7, southwest Phoenix

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“With budget cuts of more than $270 million over the past four years, there are a lot of services I would like to see restored, but I also recognize that we are living in a new fiscal reality.”

Tom Simplot, District 4, central Phoenix

Read the original article here.