After a long discussion about a need for more transparency the Phoenix City Council approved funding to retain membership in the Arizona League of Cities and Towns.
The council denied funding for the group with a 5-4 vote during its formal meeting earlier this month. On Wednesday funding was approved by a 5-4 vote.
The biggest issue expressed by members of the council was transparency, which stems from an experience Councilmen Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio recall. DiCiccio claims there was a public poll taken by the league, the results of which were kept from members of the council. DiCiccio was given those results within an hour of asking for them, but said it was much harder than it needed to be.
Ken Strobeck, executive director for the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, said the poll was taken mainly to see how the public feels about city and town governments. The results were never intended to be released. Strobeck said the league does abide by open meeting laws.
Waring also questioned the city’s need for membership. The city has its own lobbying firm and, therefore, may not need the league as much as smaller towns. He said the cost might not be worth it.
Strobeck said dues into the league are based on per capita figures and Phoenix does pay one of the least per capita costs for its membership. Still, the city does pay the most overall.
In the end the council agreed to pay $142,250 with the understanding that the league does abide by open meeting laws. Councilman Tom Simplot said he hopes the council’s decision sends a strong message to the league that they need to pay better attention to Phoenix and have greater transparency in the future.
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