The proportion of Phoenix’s general-fund budget devoted to public safety may be among the highest in the nation at around 70 percent, the Arizona Republic reports. For the first time in several years, cuts are being required to the police and fire departments and other public-safety areas because their continued growth is threatening other city functions.
City officials and outside experts say those departments’ budgets are high because the public wants it that way. “It seems that we are not way out of range of a San Antonio or a Dallas,” said Councilman Claude Mattox, who chairs a subcommittee on public safety. Last year, public-safety budgets in those cities were in the low 60 percent range of their general funds, compared with Phoenix’ 68 percent. Phil Richards, a financial consultant who formerly served on the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board, said public safety “has a stranglehold on the budget.” He argued that, “We can’t continue to live with this,” pointing out that other city programs are suffering.