Originally Published: June 20, 2017 6 a.m.
There has been numerous recent discussion regarding the need to vote “yes” and pass Prop. 443 & the .75 percent tax increase to cover the city of Prescott’s unpaid liability towards the PSPRS retirement pension. According to councilman Sischka, the tax is dedicated to pay towards the unfunded pension for our Police Officers and Firefighters and to then free up the general fund to fully staff our Police and Fire services. Yavapai County Attorney says,”Simlply put, we either pass this tax or we cut city services that make Prescott such a wonderful place to live.”
Former councilman Chris Kuknyo would rather that we do nothing and wait for the state to fix the problem. Let’s be honest here, the state is not going to fix the problem until it is forced to do so and that will not change or erase our liability debt already due and increasing. Opponents like John Stevens argue that the tax increase is not a solution to the pension problems. This is true, except he ignores our responsibility to our Police Officers and Firefighters to honor our commitment to their retirement. This liability is ours and we must cover it to protect our Police Officers and Firefighters until a solution can be found to fix the system.
State Rep. Noel Campbell said, “PSPRS is currently structured as an overly generous government entitlement program. Taxpayers are being asked to pick up the tab for a pension system unavailable to the average citizen.” This is both offensive and untrue. Every citizen who chooses, has the opportunity to apply and test to become either a Police Officer or Firefighter. Those who do not choose these career choices should not judge those that have for they know nothing about what it’s like to run toward the fire or an armed assailant. If they do choose this career direction and they are successful, then they deserve the hard earned retirement pension promised to them by their employer upon the completion of their service. This pension, with its benefits, was promised instead of raises in many cases. This is not an entitlement program. Mr. Campbell should be ashamed of himself. One can only wonder what his true motivation is in forming a statewide committee to find a solution to the PSPRS problem.
We must vote “yes” on Prop 443 and the .75 percent tax increase or cut further into the city general fund and cut further into city services, reducing response times and increasing the work load of our city services. Let’s keep Prescott a place we love want to live in.
R J McMillan