Phoenix voters defeat plan to fix underfunded pension system

Carefree soundly rejects increased council terms
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PHOENIX – Voters in Phoenix defeated Proposition 487, which was designed to help reform Phoenix’s underfunded pension system by replacing it with a 401 (k) type of plan for new employees.

Although the proposed reforms would not have affected police and firefighters, their unions came out early in a strong fight against the reform measure, which lost by 56.51 percent of the vote in unofficial results.

sal dococcioCommenting on the defeat, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio (l) stated he wasn’t quite sure what their next move will be since the fiscal problem still exists.

He said, “Elections have consequences. If the fiscal problems are not fixed, you will continue to see more cuts in service and higher taxes and fees.”

Noting Detroit’s unfunded debt for pensions was $3.6 billion when the city filed for bankruptcy, DiCiccio said the pension expense is growing at a rate of over $18 million more each year, directly impacting services such as parks, police and fire.

According to DiCiccio, Phoenix taxpayers contributed approximately $56 million in retirement contributions for city employees in 2003. Last year that number ballooned to over $240 million.

He says the problem will eventually be fixed but it’s just a matter of when and how far the problem gets kicked down the road before tax increases, budget cuts and service reductions become too much for the public to tolerate.

Proposition 480, to issue bonds to expand Maricopa Integrated Health System, passed with 63.09 percent of the vote.

Other unofficial results include:

Proposition 122, Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions, passed with 51.30 percent of the vote.

Proposition 303, Use of Investigational Drugs, Biological Products and Devices, otherwise known as the Right to Try law for terminally ill patients, passed by an overwhelming 78.28 percent.

Proposition 304, State Legislator Salaries, a measure to increase legislators’ salaries to $35,000, failed by 68.28 percent.

Cynthia Weiss and Mark Warren, both hand-picked by the administration, were elected to the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD93) governing board.

CCUSD93 Question 1 to repurpose previously authorized bonds passed by 68.93 percent of the vote, while Question 2, authorizing the issue of $30 million in new bonds, passed by 52.98 percent.

In Carefree, both Propositions 488 and 489, to increase council and mayor terms from two to four years, failed with 66.46 and 65.33 percent of the vote, respectively.

Elections have consequences, as they say, and for property owners in Maricopa County, Phoenix and CCUSD93, those consequences mean taxes will be going up.

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