DiCiccio pledges to end pension 'spiking' in Phoenix
A week after winning re-election to the Phoenix City Council in a grueling and expensive campaign, Sal DiCiccio vowed after his Sept. 6 appearance at the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Speakers Series, "I will clean up City Hall within two years."
More than $1.1 million was spent on the District 6 race involving Karlene Keogh Parks and DiCiccio, who said he spent about $430,000. He said he did not anticipate facing such a well-financed campaign with unions and out-of-state money contributing to mailers on his opponent's behalf, nor a media campaign that DiCiccio characterized as "personal-character assassination," nor hundreds of firefighters going door to door on behalf of Keogh Parks.
DiCiccio said he had roughly 30 volunteers who made calls for him and a handful of people running his campaign. He said that his polling numbers had shown him at 52 percent, so he was pleased when he won with 55 percent of the vote.
He outlined his agenda for the new term, including the vow to clean up City Hall that includes eliminating pension spiking, a practice that DiCiccio describes as "unconscionable, immoral. It's wrong."
If DiCiccio can get one more supporter on the City Council to back a vote, he believes that the pension-spiking policy that allows retiring city employees to pad their pensions with cashed-in vacation, sick leave and other accumulated city benefits, could be eliminated quickly. This policy leaves the taxpayers with $2.4 billion in unfunded pension debt, he said, and no way to pay for it.
Another city practice that DiCiccio wants to eliminate is "maximizing the primary." DiCiccio describes this process as stripping money from capital funds (secondary-tax monies, such as bonds) and transferring it to day-to-day operational, or primary, expenses like salaries and supplies. The secondary funds had been available to cover road repair, parks, libraries, senior centers and other benefits to taxpayers. The process legally allows 2 percent of funds to be shifted annually, he said, but the transfers deplete reserves that would provide for maintenance. He is concerned that roads could start showing wear and tear if the money juggling is not stopped.
DiCiccio also discussed economic development, including clustering, a concept he favors, which encourages attracting development of medical, educational or other like or related businesses in one area.
DiCiccio said he will begin working for "full restoration of senior centers, parks, and libraries" that suffered cutbacks in service during the Great Repression and as a result of shifted funds.
He plans to continue his support of anti-domestic-violence programs and those to aid homeless people.