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Phoenix debating crackdown on 'pension spiking'

PHOENIX - After reports that outgoing City Manager David Cavazos could boost his pension to an estimated $220,000, some Phoenix leaders are vowing to stop or reform so-called "pension spiking."

The longstanding practice allows city employees to cash in unused sick and vacation time, along with other perks like car allowances, to "spike" their retirement payouts.

Less than a year after getting a $78,000 raise, Cavazos accepted a new job in Santa Ana, Calif. where he will collect salary and benefits of around $500,000. He'll also collect a six-figure Phoenix pension, although it's unclear if it will be "spiked."

"The messages that I would send is we hear you loud and clear," said Phoenix Vice Mayor Bill Gates. "We share your frustrations."

Gates was appointed by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to chair a subcommittee to address pension fairness and spiking elimination.

"We're going to do it in a way that's responsible, that's sensitive to taxpayers' concerns and that treats all employees equitably and fairly," he said.

Most rank-and-file employees in Phoenix have limits on cashing in unused time while executives and middle managers do not.

Police and fire union contracts also allow pension spiking.

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