Homeless in Arizona

Phoenix City Manager pay increased by $78,000 to $315,000

  Man, our government masters pay themselves really well.


Phoenix City Manager Cavazos to get big raise

By Dustin Gardiner The Republic | azcentral.com

Mon Dec 3, 2012 10:41 PM

Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos will receive a $78,000 pay raise this year, the single largest increase for the city’s top executive in more than two decades.

Employee unions are protesting the move, saying Cavazos should not see a large pay hike while parts of the city are hurting. A hiring freeze remains in effect for police officers, and rank-and-file employees citywide have not seen their pay and benefits fully restored after taking a cut three years ago.

The increase bumps Cavazos’ annual salary to $315,000, not including a $600 per month car allowance, $4,000 annual “longevity” bonus and about $35,000 in deferred compensation. He had been earning roughly $237,000 per year in salary along with those perks.

City Council members said the increase is justified because Phoenix has for several years paid its manager substantially less than cities of comparable size. The top executives in San Antonio or Dallas earn a base salary of $355,000 and $305,000, respectively.

Cavazos characterized his 33 percent raise as part of a broader citywide effort to ensure Phoenix pays its employees competitively, an issue that has made recruiting for some positions difficult. He said the city’s salaries should be “equitable and competitive” from the front line to the top-tier of management.

“It’s something I feel very strongly about — we need to pay our people according to the market,” Cavazos told The Arizona Republic. “So the bottom line is that’s kind of where the salary is for large cities. We’re not at the top. We’re not at the bottom.”

Council supports raise

Council members said the salary hike was a nod to Cavazos’ performance at Phoenix’s helm during tumultuous economic times. When the council hired him in late 2009, the city faced an unprecedented $277 million budget deficit because of the recession. Cavazos had been a top manager at the city’s airport.

“He took us through the worst financial situation the city has ever faced,” longtime Councilwoman Thelda Williams said. “I think if you want quality, you’ve got to pay for it.”

Under Cavazos, the city has righted its financial ship: Phoenix has had a budget surplus for the past two years; the “rainy day” fund has reached its highest level in city history; city officials have saved more than $59 million through an innovation and efficiency program; and the city has reduced its number of employees per 1,000 residents to its lowest level in 40years.

Phoenix council members, who are often ideologically divided over spending issues, were nearly unanimous in supporting the raise. After discussing Cavazos’ performance behind closed doors for more than four hours, the council voted 8-1 last month to approve the pay increase.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio, perhaps the council’s most outspoken fiscal conservative, supported the decision even though he said it would likely be politically unpopular. He said Cavazos has “met and exceeded expectations” in trimming fat from the city’s budget and supporting efforts to streamline city permitting processes for business, a pet issue for DiCiccio.

“The return on the $70,000 (raise) is just massive,” DiCiccio said. “I’m not a guy that gives anything away, if you haven’t noticed that.”

However, the council isn’t letting Cavazos rest on his laurels. Several said he has simply begun the process of changing the culture at City Hall to be more innovative and cost-effective.

His performance review and pay bump came along with three goals:

Continue to streamline Phoenix government through innovation and efficiencies to build a city culture of teamwork and community service.

Make recommendations to adjust employee salary ranges and a pay-for-performance plan so the city can recruit and retain highly qualified employees.

Develop strategies to help attract businesses and encourage business expansion and retention, creating new job growth.

Opposition is vocal

Opponents of the large pay increase said it sends the wrong message to the public and lower-level city employees. A particular sticking point has been the city’s hiring freeze for police officers.

Councilman Jim Waring, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he could not justify such a raise given that the city has pulled back its spending in other areas. He said it was largely a “symbolic” vote, and he has no personal problems with Cavazos.

“As far as priorities go, I would focus more on basic services,” Waring said. “I don’t think we’re out of the fiscal woods yet.”

Leaders of the city’s employee unions have been the most vocal opponents. After word of Cavazos’ raise began spreading last week, union bosses said they began feeling the heat from line-level employees upset they’re still facing compensation cuts.

“I think the word that comes to mind with a raise of this magnitude is ‘obscene,’” said Ken Crane, vice president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. “It’s one of those things that just doesn’t pass the smell or the headline test.”

Phoenix hasn’t fully restored pay and benefits to most city workers. Employees took a 3.2 percent salary and benefit cut each year for two years starting in 2010, and the city has given back only half of their concessions.

However, as employees faced cuts, most still continued to receive merit-based raises and bonuses. The city will likely fully restore their compensation next fiscal year.

By comparison, Phoenix’s middle managers and executives, including Cavazos, have taken cuts and not received any raises for the past several years. Cavazos has given up about $11,600 in compensation since 2009, including five furlough days and $7,000 he donated back to the city’s general fund.

This fall, the city began to once again give raises and bonuses to managers, a move that similarly outraged union leaders. At the time, Cavazos noted that management had sacrificed during tough times, taking larger compensation cuts than other employees and skipping raises.

Councilman Tom Simplot supported raises for Cavazos and middle management. The councilman said that as the nation’s sixth-largest city, and the largest with a council-manager form of government, Phoenix must be competitive to attract and retain its top talent.

“I believe that it was artificially low,” Simplot said of Cavazos’ salary. “Now, we’re very competitive.”

David Cavazos' pay hike is an insult to city workers and taxpayers


David Cavazos' pay hike is an insult to city workers and taxpayers

A great weight has been lifted in the city of Phoenix, a fundamental wrong righted.

Happy days are clearly here again because members of the Phoenix City Council, compassionate types that they are, have pulled one of their own from the ranks of poverty and oppression. They’ve taken it upon themselves to ease his suffering, to improve his lot in life, to raise him up from a dreary life of bare subsistence.

As a result of their good works (and your money), City Manager David Cavazos’ tin cup now runneth over. And over and over.

And yeah, over.

I still have a hard time making my fingers type this, but the City Council last month voted to give Cavazos a 33 percent pay raise. That is, another $78,000 a year in base pay.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the city is too broke to hire replacements for police officers who leave.

It doesn’t seem to matter that rank-and-file employees haven’t seen had their pay and benefits fully restored after taking a cut a couple of years ago.

It doesn’t seem to matter that struggling families all over Phoenix are still paying 2 percent extra on their groceries, to keep this city afloat.

The new mantra at city hall appears to be Let the Good Times Roll… in the city manager’s office, at least.

Cavazos’ raise pushes his salary to an astounding $315,000 a year. That’s not counting his $7,200 car allowance, his $4,000 “longevity” bonus and another $8,580 in deferred compensation as a result of his raise, bringing his total deferred pay to $34,650 a year.

His raise and the resulting boost in deferred pay alone is nearly twice the median household income ($43,960) of a Phoenix family, which is something to think about next time you’re paying for groceries.

It should provide a cushy boost to his pension, as well – catapulting him ever closer Frank Fairbanksland. (Fairbanks, as you will recall, is the Phoenix city manager who retired with a pension larger than that of any U.S. president.)

Mayor Greg Stanton defended Cavazos’ pay raise as necessary if the city is to attract and keep top talent. He predicted that many positions throughout the city will be “adjusted accordingly.”

“We are going to make sure we have a competitive workplace in which we are able to attract and recruit great employees,” Stanton told me. “By the way, I come from the ... mindset that that neighborhood services worker who goes out and works day to day out in the neighborhoods with neighborhood groups doing anti graffiti (work) is incredibly important to the future of this city.”

I agree. But Cavazos isn’t that guy.

The fact that the top man gets a raise before pay and benefits are fully restored to that guy – the ones cleaning up graffiti and picking up the garbage and answering 911 calls – is a slap in the face.

Stanton says he expects pay raises for the rest to happen soon -- “assuming the economy keeps heading in the right direction, hopefully we don’t go over the fiscal cliff, this economy keeps improving and the city budget situation keeps improving, in the very near future.”

The near future, as opposed to on Nov. 16, when the Council voted Cavazo his bonanza. The vote was 8-1, with only Councilman Jim Waring objecting. Even Sal DiCiccio, who for years has railed against city spendthrifts, chugged the Kool-aid.

DiCiccio told me Cavazos has pushed needed reforms this year, cutting $59 million in spending, moving to a more transparent budget process and ensuring that there would be no sewer/water rate increase for the first time in two decades.

Cavazos, he said, will be given several goals for the coming year, including more streamlining, a shift toward performance pay for employees and new strategies to encourage job growth. The specifics have yet to be worked out but DiCiccio said he’d like to see Cavazos find another $100 million in efficiencies.

“If we get these three measures in place that change the scope of government then that is an entire reform agenda that most people would dream of,” he said. “Is $78,000 worth getting these significant measures in place?”

That’s a good question. Here’s a better one.

Was it necessary to pay Cavazos another $86,580 (plus the resulting pension increase) in order to get him to do his job?

David Cavazos is getting HOW MUCH of a raise?


David Cavazos is getting HOW MUCH of a raise?


Tue, Dec 04 2012 9:36 AM

Thank goodness things are getting back to normal in the city of Phoenix.

The city has announced that it’s giving City Manager David Cavazos a slight raise.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the city is too broke to consider replacing cops who leave.

It doesn’t seem to matter that rank and file employees still haven’t seen their pay and benefits restored after taking a cut a few years ago.

Happy days are apparently here again and so the City Council in November awarded Cavazos a 33 percent raise – or an extra $78,000 a year.

City leaders call the raise justified because poor old David has been slaving away at a bare subsistence pay for a few years now.

His raise moves his salary to $315,000 a year, plus, of, course, that $600 a month car allowance, a $4,000 “longevity” bonus and about $35,000 a yearin deferred compensation. That should provide a nice cushy boost to his pension, as well.

Nice gig, if you can get it.

Cavazos told reporter Dustin Gardiner that his raise is part of a citywide effort to ensure Phoenix pays its employees competitively.

After I got done laughing at that, I listened to my voicemail this morning.

I think the first caller said it all.

“Are we still paying the food tax? (answer: yes) Who is this top talent they are trying to retain? Are they talking about themselves? (answer: yes). What is this all about? Do they think this is the right time to spit in the eye of people, to stab them in the back?”

(Answer: yes)

Gordon Gekko for city manager?


Gordon Gekko for city manager?


Tue, Dec 04 2012 10:02 AM

It’s an insult.

It’s disgusting.

Usually, the questionable things done by government folks involve grey areas. Room for discussion. For argument. For reasonable disagreement.

Not this time. This is black and white.

Giving Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos a $78,000 pay raise at a time when there’s a hiring freeze for cops and rank-and-file city employees still haven’t seen pay or benefits fully restored from cuts they took three years ago is a slap in the face to those workers and a slap in the face to taxpayers.

A city council who does such a thing should not be a city council.

A city manager who accepts such a raise should not be a city manager.

I get the argument about wanting to be competitive with other cities. But what about the loyalty being shown by all those police officers and other city workers? If they're taking one for the team why shouldn't the city manager?

The city of Phoenix for years has prided itself on being run like a business. Turns out it’s like the company Michael Douglas ran in “Wall Street,” where the saying was “greed is good.”

No, it’s not.

It’s an insult.

It’s disgusting.

Phoenix should rescind David Cavazos' $78,000 pay raise

Laurie didn't say it, but I suspect this is why the Founders created the Second Amendment. I suspect their logic was that when our government masters get out of control, the 2nd Amendment give the people the power to fix things.


Phoenix should rescind David Cavazos' raise


Fri, Dec 07 2012 5:45 PM

People, people. Clearly, you don’t get it.

I’ve been inundated this week with calls, e-mails and Facebook and blog posts, all from Phoenix citizens who don’t seem to appreciate the keen strategy employed when the Phoenix City Council doled out a 33 percent pay raise to City Manager David Cavazos.

I’ve heard from city employees and retirees who haven’t seen a cost of living increase in their pensions in years. From citizens who live on a pittance and those whose idea of a banner year is hanging on to a job.

From people who have this idea that city government is supposed to be working for them, not the other way around.

People who say a $78,000 raise – plus the resulting additional $8,580 in deferred pay – is, just possibly, a tad excessive.

Actually, excessive isn’t the word they used. More like obscene, arrogant, insensitive, tasteless, a travesty and the real crowd favorite: a slap in the face.

“I wonder if David Cavazos clips coupons each time he shops at Fry’s for weekly specials or digs deep into his wallet for lunch money?” Martha Flannery wrote. “Coupons and ‘digging deep’ have become a way of life for almost everyone I know.”

Certainly for Daniel “Duck” Chauvin. “It makes me physically ill to know that this man will now be making about $30,0000 a month. Being on a small Social Security stipend, this amount is $20,000 more than I receive in an entire year,” he wrote.

City leaders point out that they’re on a mission to ensure that Phoenix employees are paid a competitive rate. Naturally, they started with the top guy.

Who, having been forced to live for several years on $236,998, was practically a pauper when compared to his counterparts in other cities with a council-city manager system of government.

Of seven cities studied, Phoenix reports that Cavazos ranked fifth in pay ahead of city managers in Fort Worth ($233,393) and San Jose ($227,975) but behind San Antonio ($355,000), Dallas ($304,773), Austin ($256,755), and Charlotte, N.C. ($240,893).

Cavazos’ new base pay puts him at $315,000 a year – not counting his $7,200 car allowance, his $4,000 “longevity” bonus and his $34,650 in annual deferred pay and, of course, the resulting rocket effect on his eventual lifetime pension.

Meanwhile, the median household income in the city he manages is $43,960, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That doesn’t sit well with Myrna Scherer.

“He’s already making at least four times what a lot of our citizens make, plus the ‘perks’,” she wrote. “I’m sorry but Sal DiCiccio and the rest of the City Council, you are WAY out of line here. And, Mr. Cavazos, if you were the least bit considerate of Phoenix citizens, you’d refuse this raise and continue to ‘do the job you were hired to do.’ ”

That really is the most astonishing part of this astonishing story. City leaders justify the massive increase by pointing out that Cavazos did his job well, getting the city out the red and saving $59 million.

I’m guessing you do yours well, too, but there’s no 33 percent raise headed your way. In fact, wages and salaries grew an average of 1.7 percent over the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same period, consumer prices rose 2.2 percent.

Add in a 2 percent food tax – imposed by the City Council in 2010 to shore up the budget – and it’s just beyond belief that city leaders could be so out of touch.

Alas, Mayor Greg Stanton says it’s the only way to attract and retain top talent.

Citizens aren’t buying it, mayor.

“The claim that the raise is necessary in order to retain this man’s talents is bunk,” wrote Eileen Lange. “Is he really going to resign if he doesn’t receive a huge raise? How many other equivalent positions are available in the USA that would come even close in pay or benefits?”

Well, there’s the president of the United States, who makes $85,000 more than Cavazos. Of course, he gets that cool airplane.

Please don’t tell me that Phoenix is thinking of buying Cavazos an airplane.

Instead, I’d like to hear that city leaders are actually listening to the people who elected them.

Reconsider this raise, Mayor Stanton. If Cavazos is angling for more money, offer him the same percentage raise that rank-and-file employees are getting – or even better, the same percentage that Phoenix residents are getting.

If he decides to leave, well then order a cake, pass around a card and send him on his way with our best wishes.

Last I checked, Arizona’s unemployment rate was 8.2 percent.

Homeless in Arizona

stinking title