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Tax hike issue going to Prescott voters

PRESCOTT – The details are still to come, but a tax-related ballot measure definitely will be going to Prescott voters in the city’s August election.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Jan. 31, the Prescott City Council called a special election for Aug. 29 – the same date as the regular City Council primary.

While a majority of council members were not ready this week to finalize the particulars – the percentage of the sales tax increase, for instance – all agreed that setting the election now would serve to “hold (their) feet to the fire” to come up with a revenue solution.

Meanwhile, the council intends to conduct weekly meetings until it works out the details of the ballot wording. The next such meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Although the city’s $78 million to $82 million in unfunded liability with the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) is central to the need for more revenue, the resolution that the council approved mentions only a special election, but does not refer to the pension system or a sales tax measure.

Before they finalize the details, council members stressed that all other options should be considered before going to the voters. During this week’s two-hour meeting, the council reviewed a list of 14 possible revenue solutions, and ultimately eliminated all but six.

Bankruptcy, a business tax, an income tax, and an increase in property tax were all eliminated – either because they were not feasible, or not legal in Arizona.

Among the remaining possibilities were: the sales tax-increase option; reducing spending; use of city financial reserves; borrowing money – either from other city departments or through bonding; and selling unneeded city property…(Prescott plans to hire about 11 fire and police employees in coming months to fill vacancies, under the existing tier.)..

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