Originally Published: August 8, 2017 6 a.m.
Approving Proposition 443, the August ballot initiative to raise the City of Prescott’s sales tax by 0.75 percent to add more funds to the Police/Firefighter pension system is premature. Previously a similar measure was rejected by the voters leading one to wonder if our local tax and spend politicians supporting this tax hike intend to reintroduce any failing initiatives over and over again hoping for the result they wish in succeeding elections.
The underfunded Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) is a program inflicted upon Arizona cities by the state and has a checkered past of management by the state. The state requires city participation. Multiple cities are now underfunded for their former and current PSPRS employees. The Daily Courier reported typical police officers’ benefits of $50,000 salary and $40,000 pension cost for a total of $90,000. This is unaffordable. Prescott Mayor Oberg stated Jan. 4 more time was needed, “They need to look at further (PSPRS) reforms from the legislature.” The state should solve the issue the state has created. The state needs time to explore and address this issue. Negotiations with the respective unions need to occur.
Sales taxes hit low wage earners with limited means, the hardest. Many residents may recall when Prescott did just fine with a 6 percent sales tax. High sales tax rates damage local merchants by encouraging online shopping.
Passing 443 in August is premature. Let’s give the state more time to address this issue. City Council needs more time to consider alternate methods to fund PSPRS. While we appreciate our police and fire departments and their good work, Prop 443 is not the best solution to this problem. Vote no on Prop. 443. There is no great need to rush through another tax hike when more time is needed to find better solutions towards resolving this boondoggle.