Pension reform

Deputy City Manager Rick Naimark explains one of the scenarios for pension reform during a public meeting Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Allison Hurtado/AFN

Even after Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton formed the Pension Fairness and Spiking Elimination Ad Hoc Subcommittee that hosted several meetings open to the public before forming a recommendation, the city has not done enough to address pension spiking, according to City Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

“The mayor is trying to ram through one proposal without looking at options and presenting options to the public,” DiCiccio said. “It’s no different than what was done with the food tax. It’s a very similar situation.”

The mayor’s subcommittee presented its proposal on pension changes during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The Oct. 22 meeting was very heated with several city employees and union members showing up in T-shirts and giving passionate comments about the city breaking agreements and lowering their pensions. Hundreds of people submitted comments opposed to the recommendation.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Greta Rogers said since DiCiccio has brought up this topic it has resulted in lowered employee moral.

“We are losing highly valuable, experienced employees because of the lies Mr. DiCiccio has uttered…,” Rogers said. “If you do this within 12 months you will decimate the city of Phoenix employee foundation and compliment. Six thousand-plus people right now this minute are eligible to retire in this city. That is 43.875 percent of the compliment of the city employment force. You lose that percentage of people in a short period of time and you’re paralyzed.”

Many employees asked that this issue be saved completely for the negotiation table, which City Councilman Michael Nowakowski agreed with.

He said he believes the ad hoc subcommittee should have been made a task force so the employees and citizens could have had greater communication.

Even among such a heated audience DiCiccio and City Council Jim Waring said more cuts to employee pensions need to be made to end spiking.

“The public was promised clearly that there would be an end to pension spiking,” DiCiccio said. “What is egregious is that pension spiking even exists… What provides savings is the council taking actual action.”

DiCiccio said he would like to see all the options and actual savings. According to city staff, the Segall Company is currently looking at modeling what the impact of these changes would be. DiCiccio attempted to make a motion that would stop sick leave and vacation accrual, reimbursements for retirement contributions, differed compensation, communication and transportation allowance, and public safety enhanced compensation from being included in pension calculations, effective when contracts expire.

Stanton did not allow the motion.

“We want all options to be on the table so that the public sees it and can understand which ones create savings, which ones don’t, and which ones are real and which ones aren’t,” DiCiccio said. “The only way to do that is to get all the numbers.”

The vote to support the subcommittee’s recommendation was four to five against the motion.

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