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3:38 AM Sat, Nov. 17th

Prescott's unfunded pension liability in focus

PRESCOTT – Two meetings this week will delve into the City of Prescott’s unfunded liability with the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).

The council has scheduled a special study session at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 30 to hear a presentation on possible PSPRS reform from the city’s contract lobbyist Barry Aarons.

Local State Reps. Noel Campbell and David Stringer also will participate in the meeting, via conference call, according to a city memo.

The prospect of state pension reform arose this past week, while the council was considering whether to put a sales tax-increase measure before the voters in August. Mayor Harry Oberg has voiced concerns that a city move toward paying down its PSPRS liability now could undercut any efforts that are underway at the state level.

Along with the legislative reform discussion, the council also will hear a report from City Attorney Jon Paladini on municipal bankruptcy.

City officials reportedly have heard from a number of local residents who suggest that the city should consider bankruptcy as a way of resolving its estimated $81 million in unfunded public-safety pension obligations.

Paladini has maintained that bankruptcy would not be beneficial for the city for a number of reasons. The council asked him to make a detailed presentation on the issue.

Also this week, a special council voting session will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31. The council is expected to decide at the meeting whether to call a special election for Aug. 29 to decide a sales tax-increase measure for paying down the city’s pension liability.

When the issue went to the council on Jan. 24 for a possible vote, council members agreed to wait until after hearing about the possibility of state PSPRS reform legislation before calling the August election.

A city memo notes that Aug. 29 is also the date of the regular city primary, so there would be no additional cost in conducting a special election that day.

Both council meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.