Not a lot of tears for the taxpayers - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Not a lot of tears for the taxpayers

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Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 10:23 am, Fri Dec 16, 2011.

My last message exposing the fact that a first-year Phoenix employee gets 40.5 days off really touched a nerve. Well, the complaints came rolling in.

Here is an excerpt from one, saying how wrong my numbers are:

"A first-year City of Phoenix Process Control Analyst (exempt, salaried) gets 46 days off a year, other supervisory personnel get 48, only 6 - 8 more days a year than DiCiccio's "clerk" and he doesn't want to address exempt employees, only the non-exempt. Check out the rest of them."

I think the response says it all.

My only request is, and has been from the get go, that city of Phoenix employees get treated the exact same as those citizens paying for those wages and benefits. That simple request has drawn a storm of union criticism: Examining benefits makes one anti-employee, damages employee morale and is an "attack on the middle class."

How about the middle class that is paying the bill? Could it be that they too are under attack?

What is lost in the self-serving criticism is that after-school programs were cut and more than 60 percent of the kids who needed a safe place after school were booted out. Where are the voices for these children? How about seniors?

Well, year after year they are threatened with major cuts. Cuts to the one place they can socialize and be with others. Without senior centers, they would be shuttered in their homes with little interaction.

Let's also not forget those who have lost their jobs and homes, perhaps their businesses. They're not worried about losing a few of their 40-plus days off. They have every day off.

All this is happening at the same time our employees received a massive increase in compensation. And, somehow by asking to give a little of that back to the burdened, bill-paying taxpayer is going to cause a meltdown in our labor force? So instead of giving back, Phoenix has gone on a fee- and tax-hiking binge: Higher water bills, higher fees for nearly everything, a new food tax, etc.

As you know, I have been working on a model that allows us to compete in this new economy. The one we have today, which puts the needs of staff over yours, will not work.

The world has changed. Phoenix hasn't. We are competing with cities all over the globe, not just those touching our border. If we are to avoid becoming Detroit, Bell, California or Greece, we need to change. We must be more competitive in service delivery and cost control, more innovative.

Senate Bill 1322, which passed the House Government Committee and now goes to the House floor, puts in place a model that will attract new jobs to our community. It realizes we live in an international market and that we must do better at competing for those new jobs, which means creating an environment in which residents and businesses can prosper. It mostly realizes that we need to take care of our citizens first. When the focus is on our citizens and protecting their way of life, then you will see good things happen.

This change will not happen until you, the voter, decide that it must happen and demand from your public officials a higher level of accountability. If we don't perform, then you need to fire us.

• Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. He can be reached at council.district.6@phoenix.gov or (602) 262-7491.

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