Ed Zuercherr on Wednesday unanimously was selected as Phoenix’s next city manager but the next step will be somewhat controversial, councilman Sal DiCiccio said on Thursday.
Zuercherr’s contract still is to be negotiated and DiCiccio said he would push to keep it transparent and without a method to pension spike.
“That will be the controversial part. I don’t know if I have the votes for that but that’s where I want to go,” DiCiccio said. “We have to make his contract an example for everyone else. I see his contract as an example of how the rest of the city’s employees’ work. If you stop it with him everyone else will follow suit. I want to make sure the spiking issue is done.”
The spiking issue is of particular relevance to the city manager’s position.
David Cavazos left the position in October, not long after he received a large raise and was able to cash in unused sick and vacation time, which inflates his long-term pension.
After his approval on Wednesday, Zuercher told media outside council chambers his new contract should ban pension spiking.
Zuercher was acting city manager after Cavazos left for the same position in Santa Ana, Calif., and was assistant city manager under Cavazos.
Zuercher has worked for the city for more than two decades. He started as an intern in 1993 and previously worked as public transit director and deputy city manager.
As Phoenix’s Chief Operating Officer, Zuercher oversees the largest council-manager form of government in the U.S., with 14,500 city employees, including seven employee unions and associations. He is responsible for implementing the city council’s roughly $3.5 billion budget.
“I’m really happy with his selection,” DiCiccio said. “He crossed all political lines. He saw how the old city manager (Frank Fairbanks) worked and how David worked, and those were two different styles. Ed is a blend of those two.”
Added councilman Daniel Valenzuela: “During the time I have worked with Ed, he has proven himself to be an individual with integrity and humility. He is dedicated to continuing to build Phoenix’s economy and meeting the needs of our residents.”
Zuercher takes over as the city faces an estimated $26 million to $52 million budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, which came as a revelation to city leaders after Cavazos left town.
Because of the estimated budget deficit, extra scrutiny is expected during the city’s ongoing negotiations of its 2014-16 labor agreements.
During Wednesday’s city council meeting, Zuercher pledged to fulfill the council’s goal of $100 million in efficiency savings by 2015 and went as far as to say he will double the savings to $200 million by 2020.
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