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Fri, Sept. 20

Friday Catchall: City’s debt depends on benefits; say no to torching weeds

The Friday Catchall:

• PSPRS – This week was an interesting exercise in investments, or at least learning (more) about them.

Some are done through the Arizona treasury, there are myriad investment gurus with firms that we can hire or consult, many retirement pensions exist (some more solvent than others), and then there are the rest of us with our 401Ks.

When it comes to the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), consider that the only way the unfunded liability problem – “enjoyed” by many government entities, the City of Prescott in particular ($69 million) – is going to be solved is if the system switches from a Defined Benefit to a Defined Contribution program, a Prescott resident told me.

Now, I am not faulting the great men and women who are recipients of retirement benefits through these, such as PSPRS. At the same time, those of us with 401Ks have no “defined benefit.” I will consider myself lucky if my 401K amounts to anything and whether Social Security still exists by the time I retire.

Back on point, without making the transition to “defined contribution,” the “unfunded liability will only grow and get worse, particularly as the Fed is in a posture to reduce interest rates going forward – which has a direct impact on investment grade options,” that Prescott resident, Bernie Cygan, told me.

It makes sense. If the status quo remains, depending on interest rates, return rates and payouts, PSPRS may never get out of its multi-billion-dollar hole. We could be looking locally at a call to extend the sales tax designed to pay off the city’s debt.

Cygan and I agree if that happens the city will have a very tough time getting voters to approve tax initiatives going forward.

Note to our state legislative delegation – Senate President Karen Fann, and Reps. Noel Campbell and Steve Pierce: I think more reform is needed.

• DON’T DO IT – A local church conjured a burning bush on Thursday by torching weeds with a propane torch.

Pardon the play on words, please. However, let me relate that my brother sent me a torch (to attach to a propane tank) for Christmas about 15 years ago.

“Good for burning weeds,” he wrote.

It has never been used, and is still in its packaging and hanging in the barn.

I live in Arizona, which is much like Paradise, California. And you know what fire did there.

• BALLOTS – If you live in the Prescott city limits and are a registered voter, you should have received your primary election ballot in the mail by now. Also, today, Aug. 16, is the deadline to request a ballot.

All ballots for the City of Prescott’s primary must be returned to the Yavapai County Recorder’s Office – at the county’s ballot drop box at 1015 Fair St., or at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St. – by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27.

For more information, visit the Recorder’s Office at 1015 Fair St., Room 228, Prescott, to vote early in person or if you are having problems or have questions. You can reach them at 928-771-3248.

Remember, vote early and often.

(Just kidding; only vote early.)

• PICK OF THE WEEK(Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): The Mike Vax Quintet, as part of the Prescott Summer Concert Series, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the courthouse plaza. prescottconcertseries.com.

Enjoy!

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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