Phoenix To Launch Online Budget Tool For More Public Input

Published: Monday, October 28, 2019 - 7:57am

When Phoenix leaders debate next year’s budget, they expect to have more public input, thanks to an online budget tool.

The tool, scheduled to launch in mid-December, will allow residents to create their own city budgets. They can choose to add or remove money from general departments like Police, Fire, Streets and Parks or adjust money for specific programs within those departments. The only rule is that the budget must be balanced when they hit submit.

During an October council policy session meeting, Budget Director Jeff Barton’s presentation included examples.

“So, let’s say we want to add a million dollars to parks, so we just click that button and now you can see we’re in a deficit and we’ve got to balance that out,” he said. “ We can balance that out by reducing another program or we can scroll down and go over to the revenue side. And what we’ve left open here-we’ve only left open local sales tax because all of our other revenue sources we really don’t have a 100 percent control over those.”

Councilwoman Thelda Williams said she’s looking forward to getting citizen- created budgets, “It’s important to me to know what the responses are. I always think I know but I probably don’t.”

Barton said users will be asked to provide information like their age, race, gender and council district which will be compiled, analyzed and shared with council members and department heads on a monthly basis. He said a lot of other cities have used a similar tool and, “the first couple of years, the buy-in has been slow. You’ve got to really promote this thing.”

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