Pension Reform Background

The City has been working on Pension Reform since January 2011.  Information in this section provides an overview of various pension reform efforts.

2012 Pension Reform Task Force

The City of Phoenix began a pension reform process with the creation of the Pension Reform Task Force in January 2011.   For almost a year, the Pension Reform Task Force w​orked with management, outside consultants, and other stakeholders to comprehensively review and recommend changes to the City of Phoenix Employees’ Retirement System (COPERS).  Following this review of the plan and extensive actuarial and legal analysis, Task Force recommendations were presented to the City Council in February 2012. 

Since that time, the Phoenix City Council has reviewed additional information, reform alternatives, and legal issues.  On June 19, City Council adopted a timeline for reform of COPERS, and requested that staff return with additional actuarial modeling and analysis of several additional reform options.  These options were considered by the Council at its September 25, 2012 meeting and referred to a March 2013 ballot.

Additionally, residents were invited to attend and offer feedback at two community meetings on the City of Phoenix Employees Retirement System pension reform process.  Summary minutes of those meeting are included in the Sept. 25, 2012 City Council Report on this page.

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​2013 Pension Fairness and Spiking Elimination Ad Hoc Subcommittee

Mayor Greg Stanton seated an ad hoc subcommittee in September 2013 to address the issue of pension fairness and spiking elimination. Their mission was to:

  • Identify current practices that qualify as pension spiking for all city employees;
  • Identify which changes can be made administratively,  which ones must occur during contract negotiations and those that require amendments to the City Code or charter; and
  • Create a timeline for implementing recommended reforms.
Vice Mayor Bill Gates served as chair, and membership included Councilman Tom Simplot, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela and Councilwoman Thelda Williams.


November 2014 Ballot Initiative

​​​​On Friday, April 25, 2014 the City Clerk certified an initiative petition that proposes changes to retirement systems for Phoenix employees. On May 7, 2014, the City Council called a Special Election to be held November 4, 2014. This Special Election will be conducted by Maricopa County as part of the General Election and the proposed amendment will be Proposition 487 on the ballot.  The Phoenix City Council voted on the ballot language at its July 2, 2014 Formal Meeting.

​Other Pension Reform Work

​In total, actions already taken by the Mayor and City Council and the COPERS board, and actions approved by Phoenix voters, are expected to save a cumulative $830 million by 2038 in both the City of Phoenix Employees’ Retirement Systems (COPERS) or, for sworn police or fire employees, the state-managed Public Safety Personnel Retirement System​ (PSPRS). ​