2021 Prescott Election Q&A: Should the city put more of its general fund toward paying the PSPRS debt beyond annual required payments?

Mayor candidates

Phil Goode — Absolutely. The city’s general fund must be diligently managed and support only what’s required — police and fire protection, library services and general government obligations (pension payments for public safety and city staff). All PSPRS tax proceeds, plus available CARES funds and any other windfall sums, should be used to pay down the PSPRS pension debt as fast as possible, and sunset the tax on our citizens sooner than planned. This is responsible fiscal management.

Greg Mengarelli — Currently, the City of Prescott makes the Annual Required Contribution to PSPRS and, in addition, makes a contribution equal to the amount of tax collected from the Prop 443 tax initiative. Together, these two contributions have paid down the PSPRS debt by more than 50%. At this rate, the debt should be retired in another three or four years. There is no reason to accelerate this debt retirement further by using additional general funds.

Council candidates

Steve Blair — NO at the cost to quality of life. We are already paying the annual requirement plus .75 percent of 443 money which is about an additional $12 million a year. We as a council are doing exactly what we told the citizens we would do. In the past 3 plus years we have reduced our debt by over a half. We owe or citizens a quality of life as well.

Eric Moore — I am averse to debt. In my personal and business life, I have no debt. I believe all government entities should operate within their means. Debit is crushing, and interest is such a waste of money — our money! We should pay off the PSPRS debit as quickly as possible, allowing the .75 sales tax increase to go away. The City Council should work to reduce the tax burden on businesses and citizens in the city.

Jim Lamerson — We promised the voters we would use all prop #443 money plus non-essential funds to eliminate the debt A.S.A.P. I would like to do that.

Grant Quezada — The city has been responsible for taking ownership of this problem, which is on track with the original plan to pay off by June 2028. The question that should be asked then, is about the management at the state level and whether our civil servants and their retirements are being managed the best way they should in order for our men and women to retire fully.

Brandon Montoya — Our current sales tax rate in Prescott is 9.1%, I think we should take necessary measures to bring that rate lower. PSPRS represents a promise we have made to our public safety officers, and it’s important we keep it. I support paying down PSPRS unfunded liability as quickly as possible to sunset the ¾% sales tax. There are systemic problems with PSPRS that need to be addressed by the state legislature.

Jessica Hall — Prescott has been working very hard to pay down the liability of around $43 million. It was at $86.4 million in FY2018 which shows how much progress has been made thanks to the council and specifically former Councilwoman Billie Orr who led the way for Prop 443. As a CPA and Councilwomen, I want to work as hard as possible to pay down this debt and ensure we are always fiscally responsible.

— The Daily Courier

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