In order to make up a $38 million budget deficit, the Phoenix City Council approved a new city services tax -- $1.50 for most of the city's residential water customers -- that will take effect on July 19. (The tax is higher for commercial customers.)
The water tax is expected to add $9.5 million in city revenue. And that amount, along with increased costs for downtown parking meters and higher use fees for city recreation and senior centers, is expected to generate an overall $11 million for the 2014-2015 fiscal year -- which starts today.
City officials intend to first increase the hours for which they charge for parking at the downtown meters -- right now it's free after 5 p.m., on weekends and holidays. But those hours will extend until 10 p.m. and include weekend and holidays starting in August.
By the Fall, downtown visitors parking downtown will also see increases in the hourly rates -- as high as $4 an hour in high use areas and during special events, and as low as 50 cents per hour in downtown areas that are less in demand.
Phoenix residents are going to be paying $20 for their annual pass to the city's recreation centers and its 15 senior centers -- up from $10 for residents. (Non-residents will be charged $40, up from $20.) The fees for using sports fields is also going up.
Residents aren't the only ones having to dig deeper in their pockets. City employees are also taking a hit. Changes in labor contracts are saving the city's general fund about $16.5 million.
The rest of the money closing the $38 million budget gap comes from deferring some city expenses, like waiting to replace city vehicles.
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