The question is whether government staff should be getting $28.9 million per year in pay raises at the same time that Phoenix collects food tax equal to those raises, and people in the private sector are losing their jobs in this bad economy. I don’t believe that Phoenix should be doling out pay raises in this economy.
When I first got elected, I promised you reform of City Hall. The food tax and how it was passed is just one example of what I am pushing to clean up.
It is important you understand why I care so much about reform in government and why this nonsense needs to stop. I know how hard this economy is on you and your family. For every $100 you spend on groceries, you now have to add $2 for these pay raises.
People have asked me why I am relentless in pushing reform at City Hall. Well, it’s personal for me – and not fair to you and your family. I grew up in a blue-collar, hourly wage family, had a job ever since middle school and know what it feels like to have the family suffer in a bad economy. I know how hard this economy is on you and your family, and I am committed to making you prosperous once again.
I believe City Manager David Cavazos purposely kept you in the dark about pay raises. By the time you had information on the raises, it was too late for you to do anything about it. Your voice – and you are the boss - was silenced.
As you recall, last year you were given the true cost of the pay raises only after the budget was approved, labor agreements were signed off on and all public hearings were completed. This year, even after early and repeated requests, you were given the information after the public hearings and just hours before the budget vote. I don’t believe that is the way Phoenix should be treating you - the boss.
This highlights an even more important discussion that Phoenix must have, a discussion of openness. The city manager has been asked repeatedly to tell us the exact date that you first were provided the financial impact of the pay raises. You are still waiting for that response.
If those at the top believe it is OK to withhold important information, that attitude filters down to other employees. The city manager is correct that the food tax was not presented as a way to pay for staff raises. It was presented as if libraries would be shuttered and police would be laid off without it. Would you have agreed to a food tax of $30 million a year if you knew government staff was getting pay raises of $28.9 million a year? Probably not.
This is an issue you should decide for yourself. Below are some facts from the city of Phoenix Budget and Research Department. Read them and then you tell me if government should get a pay raise on top of this:
• $98,322 - Average total compensation for Phoenix employees.
• $18,000 - An average city worker’s compensation increase since 2005.
• 15,000 - Number of city employees.
• $130 million - Increases in taxes and fees on you in the past 18 months.
• $270 million - Amount the city pays more for about the same number of employees since 2005.
• 15 - Number of city employees laid off due to the recession.
• 40 1/2 - Total days off (sick, holiday, vacation, personal) for a first-year clerk.
• $8,000 - Education benefits per employee.
• $0 - What employees pay for buses and rail (it’s free to them).
• 50s - Age at which Phoenix employees can retire with pension.
• $75,000 - Expected payout for post-employment health benefits for 20-year city worker.
The pension when staff retires isn’t too bad either.
• Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 262-7491.