A judge has ordered a temporary stay on a Goldwater case against Phoenix, allowing the city more time to stop the practice of pension spiking through its own system.
Three Phoenix residents, including one Ahwatukee Foothills resident, are plaintiffs in the case. They allege that city employees have been allowed to boost their annual pension by including unused sick and vacation time accrued throughout their career into final pension calculations — a practice which they would like to stop.
Judge John Rea agreed with the plaintiffs, and denied the city’s four motions to dismiss the case, but said if the city carries out what they’ve promised to do, the court may not need to get involved.
“You may have won and not realized it,” he said during oral arguments on Friday, Jan. 24.
Attorneys for the city’s pension board and Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), which includes citizen representatives as well as employee representatives, said the city has already addressed the issue of pension spiking and those on the board are planning on taking a deeper look at the problem before making official changes. They’ll gather more information during their February meeting and plan on making changes in March or April.
Rea ordered a status conference for February to see where the issue stands.
“The verdict by Judge Rea reflects a win-win for all city of Phoenix taxpayers as he in essence told the pension board to fix the problem — by denying their motion to dismiss — or else the judicial system would assume that responsibility,” said Jim Jochim, the Ahwatukee Foothills plaintiff in the case.
The judge ordered no further discovery in the case until the board makes its changes to save taxpayers some attorneys fees.
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