by Barry Barbe, Owner, El Gato Azul and Torme Restaurants
In spring 2017, a group of concerned community members came together to address the City of Prescott’s ballooning PSPRS debt and the future of Prescott.
The Public Safety Personnel Retirement Program, or PSPRS, is a state retirement program for safety employees and had reached a liability of over $75 million.
There were those who felt it acceptable to deny this responsibility and allow the city to file bankruptcy.
“Doing nothing about the millions of dollars in unfunded liability the City of Prescott faced was not an option,” said co-chair of the Stand for Prescott – Yes on 443 Sherrie Hanna.
The alternative to paying down the obligation was pretty bleak. Payments to the PSPRS liability were becoming a drain on the general fund, putting public safety services at risk as well as stymieing programs such as Parks and Rec and Library Services, as well as others that community members had come to expect and appreciate.
Stand for Prescott, and the majority of Prescottonians, knew it was their responsibility to take care of those who spent their careers protecting and serving our community.
With a rallying cry from City Council members Billie Orr and Steve Shiscka, a committee was quickly assembled, co-chaired by Sheri Hanna and Cecilia Jergenson.
The process of educating the community as to what was at risk began, and along with countless volunteers, a schedule of educational events took place.
In November 2017, the voters of Prescott approved a .75% of a penny sales tax to sunset in 10 years, or once the debt was below the amount of $1.75 million.
In just five years, during which the national economy was hammered with the COVID epidemic, the debt threshold has been met, and the tax will end Dec. 31, 2022. That’s a full five years less than expected.
The Stand for Prescott group was a true grassroots style campaign. Honestly, in political advertising, relationships such as these are not often seen.
I’m proud to say we can look back to our campaign message and say we were true to our word: “Promises given, promises kept” — Tracey Horn, Helken & Horn Ad Agency.
The passage of Proposition 443 and the results it delivered in five years is a true testament to what can be accomplished when folks come together as a community.
Sherrie Hanna • Co-Chair
Cecelia Jernegan • Co-Chair
Ann Brechwald • Treasurer
Linda Nichols • Secretary
Dr. David Hess