Our public employees are at the front of lines of keeping our neighborhoods and homes safe, but with 222 people moving into our City a day, our resources and personnel have become strained. In speaking with our police and fire, the issues seem twofold:
- Personnel. Recession era cuts to police, fire, and other emergency responders pushed our people over the edge. While some of these cuts have been restored, particularly in police hiring where we recently approved a budget with 219 more police, we still have a long way to go. 911 operators need 40 employees on at once to handle their volume of calls, but often only have 12 on at once. Firefighters are handling 40,000 more calls a year. We simply need more people.
- Outdated equipment that hinders public employee’s ability to effectively keep us safe. This is a particularly acute concern for our Firefighters, who have struggled to update their Stations with the equipment they need to keep us safe.
These problems can only be solved with a strategic, long term plan to fund these priorities, not cut them. Again, holes in our budget can be solved by stopping tax breaks that break our budget for 100 years, as well as expanding our tax base to raise revenue. If we can’t maintain basic public services our citizens expect, we can’t give $100 million tax breaks to the Arizona Center or $9 million for Roosevelt Row. It just doesn’t make fiscal sense.
If we can’t find room in a $1.3 billion general fund budget to take care of the same people who take care of us, what kind of City are we?