The Phoenix City Council approved a budget-balancing plan for fiscal 2011 that calls for $64 million in reduced spending and the elimination of 520 city positions. The budget reductions take effect April 5 and last through June 2011.

The city will close visitor centers at three parks, stop funding of an arts center, and close its after-school programs at 25 of 55 locations.

The reductions, which include laying off 50 full-time employees, were not as severe as an initial proposal that called for $140 million in cuts and the loss of 1,300 positions.

An earlier projection of a $241 million shortfall for fiscal 2011 had been reduced through the implementation of a 2% city sales tax on groceries and a concession on wages and benefits by city employee unions for a 3.2% pay cut.

The revised budget plan protects public safety employees from layoffs, and keeps open the city’s senior centers, softball fields, and libraries.

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