Thursday, September 16, 2010

Temporary Victory on Phoenix Hiking Fees

A big THANKS to everyone who joined us at the Phoenix City Council meeting today to protest the move by Mayor Phil Gordon and a majority on the Council to allow the imposition of parking fees at the city’s hiking trailheads.  And thanks to the activists who wrote their councilmembers to argue against the new fees on hikers.  Councilmembers were bombarded with hundreds of messages in opposition to the fee.

As the ever-slippery Mayor Gordon clarified (?) during today’s meeting, he and the majority of councilmembers are not, technically speaking, setting the new parking fees.  No, they are merely (!) considering whether to enforce the fees set by the parks board.  As if that made a difference…  And as if it were somehow better to delegate the power to set fees (a form of taxation) to an UNELECTED board!   

In any case, thanks to your grassroots pressure against the hiking fee, the Council moved to table the question until the next Council meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, October 6.  Please save that date.  And in the meantime, please use the link below to find your city council member and send him or her a short email explaining that you do not want the city to impose parking fees on hikers:

More Background:

We are against the move by a majority on the Phoenix City Council to allow the imposition of a fee for parking at the city’s hiking trails. 

We are not against all user fees.  User fees in theory could be a good way of getting the users of city services to pay directly for those services, and to remove the burden from taxpayers.  But in this case, Phoenix hikers will not get any new services from the city.  And taxpayers are certainly not going to get a reduction in taxes.  This is just another cash grab, pure and simple.  

Councilman Sal DiCiccio has publicized the fact that in Fiscal Year 2010, the city’s 14,000 employees made an average of $97,707 per year in salaries and benefits.  In Fiscal Year 2007, that average was $83,231.  (Source: )

Think about that for a moment.  While the state and local economy was in a deep recession, with thousands of workers losing their jobs and suffering pay cuts, city workers saw their pay and benefits go up by an average of 5.5 percent annually, for a total increase of 17 percent in three short years!  And while city workers are making an average of almost $98,000, the typical Phoenix resident--if he or she actually has a job--is lucky to make half that much..

A five-percent total pay reduction would be sufficient to wipe out the city’s starting deficit of $64 million for this fiscal year.  The reductions should be structured so as to be heavier at the top, in the management positions.  We understand that none of our city employees wants to get a pay cut..  And some of them are doing vital work.  But city workers must remember that we are in the middle of a major economic crisis, in which upwards of 20 percent of people cannot even find jobs--let alone jobs that pay $98,000 a year. 

This is just the latest outrage by Mayor Gordon and the majority on the Council.  So far this year, the City of Phoenix has imposed the following tax and fee increases on Phoenix families:  $50 million from the new food tax; $30 million from increased water rates; $3 million from increased sewer rates; increased fees on small business; and, in May, the majority attempted to increase our property tax rate.

Enough is enough.  The City of Phoenix must learn to live within its means!

To read Councilman DiCiccio’s take on the hiking fee situation, go to this URL:

To view a video of DiCiccio explaining city finances, you can use this link (if you toggle the video link a little, you can also find a video of AFP Arizona director Tom Jenney talking about city budget issues on the city’s cable TV channel):

For More Budget Info: 

Feel free to contact the office of Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio for more information about the city budget.  His email is and his phone is (602) 262-7491. 

DiCiccio told us today that he was very grateful for all of the hikers and tea party members and citizen activists who showed up to fight the hiking fee.  He told us that we are making a huge difference, and that we are forcing the majority on the Council to listen to the taxpayers.  

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
(602) 478-0146

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