A controversial compensation and benefits study was accepted by the Phoenix City Council on Feb. 7, though Mayor Greg Stanton assured the council the report would not be used in labor negotiations.

"My impression was before that one or more council members felt that the information was not worthy of acceptance because it was not accurate, or hadn't done enough," Stanton said during the policy session. "At some point, we as a council have to accept this report, or not, to allow staff to make recommendations based upon it. We're accepting facts of the report, it's not a judgment call."

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring voted against accepting the report. Though both said that they were comforted the report would not be used in negotiations, they still felt it did not give an accurate comparison of the city's benefits compared to the private sector.

The Segal Company interviewed seven private sector companies for use in the study. Other information was gathered from national published reports.

"Three of the seven companies they interviewed had pensions, which just doesn't happen with most companies," DiCiccio said. "They were looking at regulated companies that look and act like the government."

The study also placed market at 95 to 105 percent. DiCiccio said he believes market should be 100 percent.

The study found that "city of Phoenix employees are paid significantly less than similar jobs in the local private sector. Overall, city employees are paid 19 percentage points below wages paid in the local private sector."

DiCiccio did say the study had some warrant as a comparison to other local governments.

According to the study, city employees are paid consistent with other local governments and two percentage points above other public sector employers in the nation. The city's step progression pay and longevity raises were found to be consistent with most surveyed employers.

"Those components of the city's pay and benefits structure that appear above market and require further study include tuition reimbursement, medical/dental insurance and shift differentials," a statement from the city said. "Retirement/pension benefits are currently being reviewed."

While the city continues reviewing pension benefits, labor negotiations have already begun.

For more information on the study or to see The Segal Company's presentation, visit http://phoenix.gov/employment/2011totalcompstudy.html. Residents with questions about the study can call the Total Compensation Study hotline at (602) 256-3300 or send an email to city.comp.study@phoenix.gov.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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