Action items for Phoenix taxpayers — pension spiking and food tax

September 23, 2013


Dear Phoenix Taxpayer,

ITEM #1 — Let’s stop pension spiking abuses!

As the Arizona Republic‘s Doug MacEachern describes it, pension spiking is “the practice of larding up an employee’s salary with non-salary goodies like sick leave to fatten the retirement bottom line.”  As bad as it is, pension spiking is very resistant to reform.  MacEachern again: “It is financial foie gras that everyone seems to deplore, but no one has done anything to reform.  For decades, it’s hung around.”

THIS AFTERNOON (Monday, September 23) the City Council Special Subcommittee on Pension Reform will be meeting at 4:30 pm in the Phoenix City Council chambers (the low, round building at 200 W. Jefferson Street).  At the last meeting dealing with pension spiking (Sept 17), no taxpayers were present to testify — the only attendees were city employees, who have a vested interest in continuing the abuse of pension spiking.  And unfortunately, Mayor Stanton has so far failed to keep his campaign promise to end pension spiking.

Please join me at the meeting!  We would love to fill the room with taxpayers concerned about pension spiking in Phoenix.  (Yes, I know — more advance notice would be helpful, and they should hold these meetings after working hours, when people other than government workers and lobbyists can easily attend…)

ITEM #2 — End the Phoenix Food Tax!

At the May 1 meeting of the Phoenix City Council, eight out of the nine council members voted to put one cent of the two-cent city food tax on the road to repeal by January 1, 2014.  But when it comes to taking money and power away from government, there’s plenty a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip… so Phoenix taxpayers must remain vigilant and make sure that the Council stands firm in October, when the Council does a final review of the plan by retiring (and  pension-spiking) City Manager David Cavasos to eliminate the one cent tax.


At this moment, we do not know exactly which of the Wednesday afternoon Council meetings in October will be the one with the final vote on the repeal of the one-cent food tax.  We will try to let you know as soon as we know.  Or, you can monitor the city’s public meeting notices web page to see when the one cent food tax repeal question appears on the docket for a Formal Meeting on a Wednesday.  Whether or not you can make the meeting, please contact council members using the emails and phones listed below.

BOTTOM LINE: Keep fighting!  Unfortunately, there is currently no firm majority plan on the Council to repeal the entire two-cent tax.  But if Phoenix taxpayers can get half a loaf, it will be an important stepping stone on the way to full repeal.  By repealing one cent of the tax, we will prove that we can easily let the whole tax expire in 2015 without impacting vital city services.  Remember, the food tax falls heavily on the poorest citizens of Phoenix — and its revenues have been used to increase salary-and-benefit packages for city workers, many of whom rake in more than $100,000 a year.


Out of the nine members on Council, we are not worried about Councilmen Sal DiCiccio, Bill Gates, or Jim Waring — the three members who had cumulative career scores as “Champions of the Taxpayer” on the 2013 Local Government Scorecard put out by our sister organization, AFP Foundation-Arizona.  Please send those them quick emails (and/or leave short voice mail messages) thanking them for holding the line in favor of repealing the one cent food tax.

DiCiccio, Sal  602-262-7491

Gates, Bill  602-262-7441

Waring, Jim  602-262-7445

At this point, we are pretty sure that the following five council members will vote for repeal of one cent of the food tax by January 1, 2014, but please send them quick emails (and/or leave short voice mail messages) encouraging them to vote for repeal:

Nowakowski, Michael  602-262-7492

Simplot, Tom  602-262-7447

Stanton, Greg  602-262-7111

Valenzuela, Daniel  602-262-7446

Williams, Thelda  602-262-7444

The ninth member, Michael Johnson, may be a lost cause…

For Liberty, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
(602) 478-0146

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