Phoenix voters approved changes to the city’s pension system during a special election on Tuesday.
Seventy-nine percent of voters approved Proposition 201, according to early election results, which will change the city’s pension system for incoming employees. New hires will contribute more to their own pension plan. Currently, city employees contribute 5 percent while the city contributes more than 20 percent. Both will share the burden now. Prop 201 also increased the age and service requirements for employees to be eligible for retirement.
Voters approved Proposition 202, which will amend the city’s charter to implement new investment standards for the city of Phoenix retirement plan assets. It will also allow the city to contribute more than its annual required contribution to reduce the retirement plan’s future liabilities. This measure was approved by 77 percent of voters, according to early results.
Mayor Greg Stanton said he’s pleased with the results of the election.
“Reforming our pension system is the right thing to do, and this vote marks a positive change for the way we do business at City Hall,” he said in a statement. “With (the March 12) vote, Phoenix residents made a clear choice: accountability and making city government work for its citizens. It was time to reform our pension system and we got it done. Pension reform will save our city $600 million and create a 50/50 partnership for the city and its employees. It will attract talented workers to deliver the highest quality services and make us competitive for a stronger economic future.”
City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said the results of the election were not surprising but that the change isn’t real reform.
“It was really hard for voters to vote against this because it really didn’t do much,” he said. “It did give some improvement, it didn’t give the kind of reforms that will stabilize the pension system long term. The city of Phoenix has over a billion dollars in long-term debt on the pension just to make it fully sustainable that it has not addressed.”
DiCiccio said the city will not see any savings until it hires new employees because the changes don’t affect current employees. DiCiccio said he pushed for a cap on taxpayer liability that did not make it.
The changes will take effect beginning in July and will not apply to police, fire or elected officials. Voters also approved Proposition 300, which will allow contracted security guards on the Metro Light Rail to issue citations in Phoenix. Previously only Phoenix police officers were allowed to issue tickets on the light rail. Close to 76 percent of voters approved the change.
The results from the election are still unofficial. These results include early ballots received by March 8 and ballots cast at voting centers on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
The city said 2,700 ballots were cast at the city’s 27 voting centers. Nearly 17,000 ballots remain to be counted. Officials began processing those ballots Wednesday morning and expect to have updated results by 5 p.m. Friday. For more information, visit phoenix.gov.