During their regular meeting on Wednesday, the Prescott Area Hospitality Association had an opportunity to hear from both sides of the issue regarding ballot initiative 443, which voters will decide in August.
The City of Prescott faces a $78M unfunded liability in the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) pension fund. The purpose of Prop 443 is to pay down the unfunded liability over a period of 10 years or less with a 3/4¢ sales tax.
Built into the tax initiative is a no-longer-than 10 year clause, stipulating that the tax will end after that period of time or when the liability is reduced to $1.5 million. The tax itself must be dedicated solely to paying down the unfunded liability, according to the legal language on the ballot, but nothing would prevent the Council from paying additional monies towards the liability. Councilwoman Billie Orr is part of the Stand for Prescott Political Action Committee, and she thinks that it’s possible the tax would allow the liability to be paid down in less time, perhaps in six or seven years.
Not everyone is in favor of Prop 443. Representatives from the Citizen’s Tax Committee (CTC) spoke against Prop 443. John Stevens stated, “We’re in total agreement. We’ve got a very, very big problem… This tax does nothing to solve or fix the real problem.” So, what solution does the CTC suggest in place of the tax? “We don’t have a solution here,” John Lamerson said.
Perhaps Councilman Steve Sischka explained the differences the most succinctly. “Your cup is half empty,” he said with a nod to the CTC spokespersons. “My cup is 3/4¢ full.”
The discussion was lively and the participants had many opportunities to respond to one another. This is a forum worth watching for Prescott residents hoping to gain insight into the PSPRS and Prop 443 issue: