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“We are now spending more money than we ever have in the history of the city,” Mr. Evans said. “Our revenues just don’t grow that fast.”

Council Member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, suggested merchants might prefer tax increases over cuts to social-service programs, including one that gets people off city streets and into apartments.

“Well that’s going to end,” he said. “There will be homeless folks downtown again.”

Council member David Catania, at-large independent, has issued a similar clarion call for weeks, saying he cannot support the budget in its current form.

“It’s what do I need, and what can I live without?” he said. “And our government hasn’t made these choices.”