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Outgoing Phoenix city manager defends pension spike

PHOENIX — Outgoing Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos is defending his recent moves regarding his personal pension.

Cavazos is coming under fire for using $200,000 in unused sick leave to “spike” his pension one month before he retires. Cavazos said he’s done nothing wrong under pension reform that was approved by voters in the last election.

“All of the provisions in terms of what you pay as an employee, what the city pays, when you can retire, all of those things were taken before the voters,” he said. “And in the last election, when we did pension reform, they passed the manager’s recommendation and the council voted unanimously, and there was an 80 percent approval rating for the pension reform.”

Cavazos will retire next month, then will take over as the city manager of Santa Ana, Calif.

Cavazos made his comments Wednesday morning after briefing the city’s Innovation and Efficiency Task Force that Phoenix is well on its way to meeting a goal of saving $100 million by 2015. He told the committee that the city has already saved $80 million since the goal was set last year. Much of the cut comes from a workforce and overtime reduction.

“We have the smallest government in over 40 years,” Cavazos said. “We actually have 2,700 fewer positions, 2,200 fewer managers, a 50 percent reduction in overtime.”

Cavazos said that, while the city budget is shrinking, there is nothing wrong with the way he will receive his pension.

“I was given a contract by several city councils,” he said. “The terms have been reviewed twice. They have terms and conditions in that contract. I have met or exceeded every single term, and I will be paid according to that contract.”

The Goldwater Institute has filed a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix in an attempt to halt Cavazos’ pension spike.

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