By Linda Bentley | january 27, 2016

Councilman DiCiccio exposes city’s water rate hike for pay raises scam

Arizona Free Enterprise Club excoriates city for Prop. 104 waste, fraud and abuse

Sal DiCiccio

PHOENIX – Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio exposed the city’s scam back in 2010 when the city claimed it cut 305 employees but instead secretly transferred them to the Water Department and raised water rates to cover their pay.

Once again, the city has raised water rates to give employees raises.

Since fiscal year 2008/2009, Water Department employee compensation has increased by $16.8 million.

Average per-employee compensation increased by more than $11,000 to $88,162.45 during the same period of time.

DiCiccio points out staff, by contract, already receives guaranteed raises and bonuses for merit and longevity each year.

However, he says, the union is pushing for additional pay raises that will require citizens to pay even more for water in the future to cover the expense.

Meanwhile, now that Phoenix voters approved Prop. 104, a $31.5 billion, 35-year transportation tax – relying on a 0.7 percent sales tax – that runs from 2016 through 2050, the lack of accountability, transparency and blank check warnings the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) made prior to the election are now coming to light.

The city already had a 0.4 percent transportation tax in place that was set to expire in 2020.

Prop. 104 increases the tax to 0.7 percent, extends it until 2051 and is supposed to fund an additional 42 miles of light rail to the existing 13.5-mile system, expand or improve bus routes, extend bus service and Dial-a-Ride hours, bus stop shade structures, increased security, road maintenance and repairs and more.

The city’s ballot language never divulged the fact there was already a 0.4 percent transportation tax in place until 2020 and the proposition passed by a 55 to 45 percent margin.

All expenditures under the plan “shall” be reviewed by a Citizens Transportation Committee (CTC), as was included in the ballot language to “advance transparency, public input, and government accountability.”

According to the AFEC, this “citizens” oversight committee has no power or authority and is run by Phoenix staff members – whereas 25 city employees sit on the approximately 30-person “citizens” panel each meeting.

Phoenix city staff is now planning to hire a program management consultant to perform what the CTC is required to do, despite the multi-million dollar expenditure never having being placed on an agenda for the CTC to review.

Meanwhile, AFEC points out the entity that was in charge of managing Valley Metro bus and light rail systems in Phoenix recently forced its CEO to resign.

The resignation came after a number of expenses for fancy meals, first-class airfare, alcohol and numerous trips to Portland, Ore. were exposed.

While the city is conducting a full audit, the attorney general’s office is performing an investigation to determine if there were any criminal actions involved.

Valley Metro’s troubles were known by the city well before Prop. 104 was placed before voters, but voters were never informed until after the election.

Scott Mussi

AFEC president Scott Mussi stated, “This does not mean more cannot be done to bolster transparency and accountability. If the city does not empower the CTC to protect Prop. 104 funds from waste, fraud and abuse – it will be a long 35 years for taxpayers.”

AFEC, a 501(c)(4) organization, was founded in 2005 as a free market, pro-growth advocacy group dedicated to Arizona issues and politics, with a mission of promoting policies that encourage economic prosperity and a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.