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Tue, May 21

Arizona in Brief: Lake Havasu City to mull borrowing to pay down pension debt

LAKE HAVASU CITY (AP) — Officials in Lake Havasu City are considering borrowing up to $13 million to help pay for pensions for public safety employees.

Today’s News-Herald reports that the request for debt financing will be considered at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

City Manager Charlie Cassens told council members in October that the city needed to pay about $12.6 million in debt issuance to Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which manages pensions for retired police and fire employees in Arizona.

The pension issue has become a hurdle because of a 2016 accounting change that required cities and other local government agencies to count unfunded pension liabilities on the books as outstanding debt.

Havasu’s public safety pensions are currently a little more than 40 percent funded, which means retired employees will still get their pension payouts, but if every public safety employee were to immediately retire, the city wouldn’t be able to pay their pensions.

The city hopes to finance the $12.6 million to pay down the debt and move closer to the goal of having pensions funded at 80 percent — a benchmark for judging the health of pension accounts. In all, the city owes about $60 million to the retirement system.

Arizona prisons boss to appeal order over inmate health care

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan is appealing a judge’s order that said he and another prison official could be held in civil contempt of court and the state could face fines for repeatedly falling short in improving health care for inmates.

Lawyers representing Ryan and Assistant Corrections Director Richard Pratt filed a notice last week saying they were appealing the Oct. 10 order.

Firm opposes subpoena in bribery case against ex-regulator

PHOENIX (AP) — A water company whose owner is charged with bribing a former Arizona utility regulator is opposing a subpoena that orders the Corporation Commission to turn over records as part of the criminal case.

Lawyers for Johnson Utilities say the records are related to its rate case before the commission and are confidential and irrelevant to the case.

Authorities say then-Commissioner Gary Pierce voted in 2011 to let George Johnson’s company request that Johnson’s personal income taxes be covered by the utility’s customers if regulators were to allow such a practice in the future.

Pierce also is accused of taking bribes to push rate increases through the commission.

Pierce, his wife Sherry, Johnson and lobbyist Jim Norton have pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges.

Body recovered at Grand Canyon; may be missing Utah man

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Authorities say they’ve recovered a body within the Grand Canyon National Park and it’s believed to be that of a Utah man missing since late last month.

Park Service officials announced Monday that a man’s body was recovered below the South Rim between Pipe Creek and Mather Point.

Identification of the body will be handled by the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is also conducting an investigation into the death along with the National Park Service.

Park officials say 39-year-old Michael Legus, of Tooele, was reported missing by a friend on Oct. 31. He reportedly was last seen at Mather Point.

Phoenix man faces charges in road-rage shooting on freeway

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man is facing charges after he allegedly shot a driver in a road-rage incident on a Phoenix-area freeway.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say 24-year-old Arturo Pena was arrested after the incident early Saturday on the Loop 101.

Bond was set at $50,000 at Pena’s initial court appearance Sunday. He doesn’t have a lawyer yet.

Pena told authorities he fired one shot at the driver of a sports car to scare him.

The other driver was taken to a hospital for treatment of a neck wound. His name hasn’t been released.

DPS troopers and Peoria police arrested Pena after he exited the freeway and stopped at a shopping center.

Authorities say Pena is jailed on suspicion of drive-by shooting, endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Taylor Swift stadium tour kicks off in Glendale

NEW YORK (AP) — Taylor Swift is going to bring her new album to life when she hits the road next year.

The pop star announced the first of dates for her “reputation Stadium Tour” on Monday. It kicks off May 8 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Tickets for general public go on sale Dec. 13.

Swift announced 27 shows stretching through October, with stops in Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and Houston.


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