Voters to decide Home Rule Option in primary

Proposition 442 is ‘equally important’ as Proposition 443

The City of Prescott’s bid to extend its Home Rule Option for another four years (Proposition 442) may not have generated as much voter interest as Proposition 443, but officials say it is also critical to the city’s future.

The Home Rule Option was last approved by Prescott voters in 2013, and has been overwhelmingly approved every four years since 1989.

The Home Rule Option, or Alternate Expenditure Limitation, gives local governments the authority to control their own budgets, rather than adhering to a state-imposed limit.

A summary analysis in the city’s publicity pamphlet states that the state-imposed expenditure limit was the result of a statewide voter-approved initiative in 1980 – a response to California’s Proposition 13. The initiative made the 1979-80 budget the base-year budget, with annual adjustments being made to reflect population growth and inflation impacts.

But, the pamphlet adds, the expenditure limit formula ignores the revenue that a city can produce. “As Prescott has grown, the revenue generated has surpassed the state imposed expenditure limit,” it states. “The expenditure limit places a cap on the amount that can be spent, even though a growing city experiences an increased demand for services and must maintain existing infrastructure.”

A news release from the city adds that if Proposition 442 did not pass, the city would have to cut an estimated $52.2 million from its budget for the coming fiscal year.

City Councilwoman Billie Orr pointed out that many voters may have missed the message about Proposition 442 in the midst of the discussion about Proposition 443, the city’s measure asking voters to raise the sales tax by 0.75 percent to help pay down the city’s more than $78 million unfunded liability with the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).

“Many people we talk to know about Prop 443, but many folks don’t know about Prop 442,” Orr said. “Both propositions are equally important for voters to carefully consider.”

Proposition 442 generated no arguments in favor or opposition in the publicity pamphlet, while Proposition 443 generated 27 arguments – 21 for the sales tax increase, and six against.

A ‘yes’ vote on Proposition 442 would extend the Home Rule Option for four more years.