The Phoenix City Council voted last month to cut its Emergency Food Tax rate in half, beginning in January 2014.
The Emergency Food Tax was put in place by the council in February 2010 after very little public input, which caused an uproar even as the funds helped to restore some critical city programs that would have otherwise been cut from the budget.
While the additional funds brought in by the temporary tax helped to reopen senior centers, restore library hours, and save some city-funded after school programs, many residents struggling in a down economy felt it was unfair to place the financial burden on their grocery bill. And a few City Council members agreed.
Discussion to eliminate the food tax or reduce it from five years to four years began almost immediately after it was put in place. However, financial constraints made it impossible to eliminate it entirely, according to City Manager David Cavasos.
The $33 million eliminated from the general fund over the final two years of the food tax, which ends in March 2015, will be offset by refinancing city bonds, streamlining some staff positions, and selling city-owned land. But city services will not be affected, officials contend.