Phoenix pension reform sails through

March 12, 2013

Phoenix voters have overwhelmingly supported a proposal to reform the city's pension system.  

Early results after the polls closed Tuesday showed Proposition 201 passing by nearly 80 percent. 

The proposal is expected to save the city nearly $600 million over the next 25 years. The savings come from increasing both the age of retirement for new city employees and the amount new employees contribute into the pension system. 

Choosing “yes” on the measure was simple, said Phoenix resident Martin Vogel.

"It was the easy one because it was common sense," said Vogel, who had just cast his ballot at the North Phoenix Baptist Church. "It was intended for the future. I think the hard choices are what to do about the current employee situation and the fact that benefits for city employees are very high compared to the private sector."

New employees and the city now each pay equal amounts into the pension system. Prop 201 had no official opposition, but some city council members say it doesn’t go far enough.

Voters also approved Proposition 300 by wide margins. 

That brings the city in line with Tempe and Mesa – at least when it comes enforcement on the Valley Metro light rail system. Proposition 300 changes a quirk in Phoenix’s charter that allowed only city police to issue tickets on the mass-transit system. Now, officers from a private security company will take over those duties, just like they do in the other cities. 

Budget savings weren’t the driving force behind the measure, said Assistant Phoenix City Manager Ed Zercher. It was more about providing consistency. For the first time it allows security guards to issue tickets throughout all 20 miles of the system -- no matter what city they're in.

"And what that does, is it frees up our police services, our police officers and our police assistants, to deal with bigger issues related to crime, criminal activity, in and around transit stations, and really focus on that kind of security," Zercher said.

Like the pension proposal, Prop 300 had no official opposition. 

Official vote totals won’t be in for several days.

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