City Budget Director Jeff Barton left the table with no other words except, “I’m done,” after the motion to pass the 2018-2019 city budget failed with a 4 to 4 vote among council members.
“We are $2 billion in debt,” said Councilman Sal DiCiccio, in disagreement of the motion passing. “We have a fiscal problem that the city goes through every year.”
The public expressed disagreement in passing the motion, many explaining that they were given no thorough explanations of what the budget dealt with.
Phoenix resident Wesley Harris said, “How can you vote on a budget if you don’t know where it’s for or what it does?” Others criticized councilmembers directly for “not listening to the needs or wants of the community.”
A former employee for the city government, Luis Acosta, said in the public hearing, “I’ve seen millions of dollars in waste,” and further said that the Phoenix City Government has “retaliated against whistleblowers.”
Acosta said he’s saved taxpayers 1.5 million dollars by actively calling the city out on their proposed budgets. He urged the councilmembers to not approve motion.
Councilwoman Laura Pastor, one of the councilmembers who denied the motion, said that a number of constituents she represents were against the budget and for that reason she had to vote against it.
Councilman Valenzuela, who voted for the motion, said he felt the budget would help the city move forward, which is the primary goal of his role as a councilmember.
“This budget represents moving the city forward for public safety needs,” said Valenzuela.
Mayor Thelda Williams said, “This is the first time this has ever happened. I’m not sure what to do now.”
Councilman Sal DiCiccio called the 2018 capital funds budget “pure mismanagement” and told Williams “it needed to fail.”
After Barton came back before the councilmembers to clarify their questions, both councilmembers Debra Stark and Kate Gallego commended him for his performance as the city budget director. Williams added that his work has been very well-done over the past years and the votes are not personal to him.