- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix voters may decide later this year whether to revamp the city’s existing employee pension system.

A group called Citizens for Pension Reform Committee submitted petitions Tuesday with more than 54,000 signatures to force a special election on an initiative proposal. It takes 25,480 valid signatures of registered voters.

The proposed changes include providing newly hired workers with a 401(k)-style retirement plan instead of the current defined-benefit that would continue for current workers.

Another change would stop so-called “pension spiking” in which workers’ pension benefits are increased by special payments before they retire.

The City Clerk’s office has 35 business days to verify and count the signatures.

The Arizona Republic reports that the cost to fund the pensions has ballooned, from $28 million in 2000 to $110 million in 2013.

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