Mayor Kate Gallego joined the Greater Phoenix Chamber on April 30th to discuss the status of ongoing City of Phoenix projects, her prioritization of community health alongside COVID-19, and a sneak peek at emerging innovations to drive Phoenix forward through pandemic recovery and beyond.  Here are the top takeaways:

Economic Recovery

  • BUDGET: At the start of the pandemic one year ago, the city engaged in careful stewardship of its funds to avoid layoffs and keep essential city services operating. That cautious approach has generated a General Fund surplus of $153 million.
  • Optimistic of healthcare and bioscience cluster in Phoenix and have seen key investments, extended growth for Phoenix.
  • The City is encouraging businesses to get employees vaccinated thru partnerships with the City.

COVID Response Efforts

  • “As I’ve said many times, the pandemic is not over. We still must stay vigilant and make data-driven decisions that protect the health of our community while acknowledging that things are improving.” – Mayor Gallego
  • Throughout the pandemic, the city has benefitted from advice provided by experts in public health; the budget would continue those services.
  • An additional seven positions would be created to address the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 by providing mobile outreach and Wi-Fi services to the community, food assistance, and more.
  • There is a continued effort to encourage health & safety precautions and vaccination efforts.
  • Free COVID Testing mobile units are still available.

Budget Priorities: Mental & Behavioral Health Crisis

  • Currently Phoenix has a $153 million dollar surplus in the budget.
  • A $15 million investment to augment the Community Advocacy Program (CAP) is part of a $21 million commitment to improving accountability, transparency, responsiveness, and trust in public safety.
  • Once the final budget is approved, the CAP will operate out of the Phoenix Fire Department and will remove primary responsibility for mental health response from Phoenix Police.
  • The expanded CAP, when fully operational, will consist of 19 mobile units: ten units will be professionally staffed by civilian city employees and will provide crisis response, connection to care, and other social services; nine units will involve a public-private partnership with a behavioral health provider to ensure those who suffer with mental and behavioral health conditions receive ongoing case management and counseling services.

Sustainability

  • The budget proposal provides for nearly $3 million and 14 positions to combat climate change.
  • A proposed new Office of Heat Response and Mitigation would be charged with implementing heat response strategies and urban heat island mitigation solutions.
  • The City of Phoenix Transportation Department recently initiated the Cool Pavement Pilot Program. Arizona State University researchers and the City of Phoenix are working together on the Cool Pavement Project with ASU, to quantify and evaluate the effectiveness of the CoolSeal product in mitigating urban heat considering various heat metrics.
  • Also included is funding and staff support for increased strategic tree plantings throughout the city, among other responsibilities that contribute to sustainability in the City of Phoenix and throughout the region.
  • The budget also calls for more staff and equipment for solar energy inspection with the goal of fostering increased adoption.

New Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

  • The budget creates a new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to promote equitable and respectful treatment of all people.

Fostering a culture of innovation in Phoenix to drive our economy forward

  • TSMC Semi-conductors are the largest foreign, direct investment in Phoenix history!
  • Phoenix has earned positive international recognition for its semi-conductor ecosystem.
  • TSMC is bringing new, high wage jobs to boost economic development in the Phoenix community.

Infrastructure Improvements

  • Federal government discussions and improvements are happening for future road infrastructure projects.

Commitment to the Arts and Historic Preservation

  • This budget proposal will contain the largest commitment in a decade to historic preservation, along with funding for arts programming for youth, training for arts professionals, and “pop-up” arts around the city at libraries, community centers, and cultural centers.

Efforts to Combat Homelessness

  • Funds would be allocated for managing the development of affordable housing; ensuring job services are available to those residents receiving rapid re-housing services; and maintaining cleanliness in the area surrounding the downtown Human Services Campus.
  • The Regional Mayoral collaboration continues to address transportation, homelessness struggles.
  • The City of Phoenix has $150 million dollar program to help with housing and homelessness.
  • New partnership with US Vets, including an investment for housing vets in Phoenix.

The city council will take a final vote on the proposed budget on May 18th. Final adoption of the FY 2021-22 will occur in June. To learn more about the budget and the schedule for public hearings, visit https://www.phoenix.gov/budget

Posted by Annelise Patterson