Councilman Sal DiCiccio’s Feb. 3 column, “Solutions for Phoenix’s billion dollar labor bubble,” is disturbing, and quite frankly, it’s wrong. 

As a retired Phoenix Police Department homicide investigator, I’m quite disturbed that Councilman DiCiccio is attempting to mislead and convince the public that city employees earn, on average, $100,000 a year. Listed below are the facts from the city’s Budget and Research Department.

The fact is that all of our employees, from police officers to firefighters, librarians to groundskeepers, engineers to mechanics, are valuable, talented individuals who care deeply about serving the public and providing excellent service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is one of the reasons why Phoenix recently was awarded, for the fifth time, the All-America City Award from the National Civic League.

Because of the economic downturn throughout the country, Phoenix is facing the worst budget situation we have ever seen. The city is required by law to balance its budget every year.

This year, the mayor and City Council are dealing with the reality of needing to cut $142 million from the budget. And that’s on top of budget cuts of more than $200 million over the last two years.

In the next month, we will be making difficult decisions of employee layoffs, including for the first time, public safety; closing libraries, senior centers and parks; and significantly reducing important public services that will impact all residents.

To help reduce the budget shortfall, last week the mayor and a majority of the City Council reinstated the 2 percent food tax. The food tax, which equals $2 on every $100 spent, is not new.  Phoenix used to have a food tax, but in 1980, when economic times were good, the city rescinded the tax. And when the economy rebounds in the future, the council could rescind the tax again.

The food tax is expected to generate $50 million a year, so it will significantly help with the budget shortfall, but it will not solve the entire $142 million problem.

Phoenix is a city that we are proud to live in and call home. Right now our council needs true leadership, not hot air, half-truths, rhetoric and misleading information.


Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson represents District 8, which includes downtown and parts of the east and south Phoenix. He can be reached at 602-262-7493 or


Editor’s note: Councilman Sal DiCiccio is correct when he said that the average total compensation for a city employee is $100,000, which includes retirement, insurance and all benefits. Councilman Michael Johnson is also correct when he says that salaries are less, averaging from $43,000 for clerical and field employees up to $150,000 for top managers.

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