Open space sales tax ballot measure up for Prescott Council vote May 5

PRESCOTT - The details of a proposed sales-tax hike for open space will be among the matters occupying the Prescott City Council this week.

The council's combined special meeting and workshop will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

The meeting will feature a possible vote on whether the city will put an open space question on the Aug. 25 primary ballot for a 0.08-percent sales tax hike for the next 20 years.

Revenue from the tax - expected to be about $1 million per year - would go toward open space, but the breakdown of the tax measure is still to be decided. The council memo includes four options for how the ballot might be worded.

The alternatives deal with a number of details that came up during the council's discussion of the issue on April 28.

Among them: whether the revenue should be devoted exclusively to open space acquisition and maintenance, or whether lakes and watersheds should be included; whether an open space advisory committee should be created, or whether the city should instead add two new members to the existing Parks and Recreation Board; and whether 20 percent of the revenue should be devoted to maintenance of open space.

In other business, the council will consider amending the ballot language on the previously approved measure asking for a 0.55-percent sales tax increase to pay the city's "unfunded liabilities" for its police and fire pensions.

A city memo explains that future state pension reform could allow for the issuance of "pension obligation funds" to help with the liabilities. A city memo states that the bonds "could provide a means of significantly reducing the cost of paying off the city's unfunded obligations."

To recognize that possibility, the council will consider amending its original ballot language on the pension sales-tax measure.

The pension sales tax measure got initial approval on April 28, when the council agreed to ask voters to weigh in on the 16-to-20-year tax.

Earlier in April, the council also agreed to put a street sales tax measure on the ballot, asking voters whether to increase the 0.75-percent tax for street improvements to 1 percent.

The council also will discuss several water management issues, including how to handle requests for water service outside city limits.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.