Nineteen teams and 16 individual employees of the city of Phoenix will be honored May 23 at the 32nd annual City Manager/City of Phoenix Employee Excellence Awards ceremony, including some employees who are Ahwatukee Foothills residents.

The awards, which covered projects completed in 2011, recognize employees for exceptional public service, according to a statement by the city.

“Last year was an outstanding year for the city, thanks to these incredible employees,” said City Manager David Cavazos. “They represent the peak of excellence.”

One of the winners is Ahwatukee Foothills resident Rob Sweeney, acting chief information officer at the city. Sweeney was part of a team that developed a system used to identify unlicensed businesses and businesses that were under reporting sales taxes. As a result of the team’s work, the city collected $4.8 million in fiscal 2010-11 from previously non-compliant businesses.

“It’s great to get the award, but it was especially great to work on such a collaborative team,” Sweeney said. “This team ranged from licensed inspectors to data based administrators to tax auditors and the like that were doing the work to get the revenue needed for the city of Phoenix. The goal of the project was to find a new way of determining compliance with sales taxes… We could then work professionally with the firms where we found them and in some cases they just had a lack of understanding and we were able to handle that in a very professional manner and take care of any tax liability that they owed the city. It’s never the city’s intent to run the business out of business, but we want to ensure that as they are collecting those sales tax dollars that they are remitted appropriately into the jurisdictions.”

Another Ahwatukee resident being honored is Louie Spadafore, recreation coordinator III, who oversees a program called My Phoenix, My Parks, which coordinates volunteer efforts to clean local parks.

“It feels wonderful to be recognized,” Spadafore said. “The committee I work with is all wonderful individuals. We’ve all worked for the city for a long time. It’s our passion. We love what we do.

“When you go into this profession you really don’t do it for the money. It’s just something we enjoy doing. We like working with the public. Being part of My Phoenix, My Parks is just one facet of our jobs. A lot of us oversee athletic fields or work with organizations on putting on special events at the parks. It’s just that community involvement.”

The Employee Excellence Awards ceremony will be May 23 at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St. in downtown Phoenix. It can be viewed live online at

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