Everyone has heard of the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. Once upon a time a boy name Jack sold the family cow for a handful of magic beans. The beans grew into an “enormous” beanstalk, high into the clouds which led to the castle of an easily duped giant. This giant had a goose that laid golden eggs. In the tale, by his thievery and deception, Jack was able to destroy the beanstalk, kill the giant, and steal the giant's goose who laid the golden eggs. The news media of the day however, through propaganda and deceit, portrayed Jack as a hero.
Fast forward to the City of Prescott. The City Council chooses to diminish the future of Prescott by pushing for a .75% sales tax which provides no reliable, reasonable, or realistic solution to the pension liability. “This is only for a few years,” they say, “10 years, at most.” But with close analysis this will go on for many, many years. This tax is really targeted at creating extra money for the general fund. This was stated clearly by one Council woman on separate occasions. She stated the .75% will be used to pay down the pension liability. But a big portion of the city's standard payment includes a pension liability payment. So any revenue from the .75% sales tax used towards the standard payment, will not pay down the current pension liability. Significant portions of the current PSPRS payment will be diverted to the general fund for other uses. This will cause the “beanstalk,” aka unfunded liability, to grow into the clouds and up to the doorsteps of taxpayers. The taxpayers could be duped by the propaganda and deceitful delivery of “Jack” telling them what is necessary to save Prescott.
There have already been calls by some Political Action Committees and our city officials of a doomsday and of course the obligatory threats of closing the library, worsening brown outs, and other dire consequences if the .75% does not pass. Media has played a part in fostering this Prescott fairy tale by allowing false narratives to remain unchallenged. Have other alternatives been explored? i.e., restructuring of city services and providing only essential services.
Taxpayers’ emotions are being manipulated by “Jack” for their desired results. YES Prescott's facts are merely rhetoric designed to frighten. This and other groups speak with authority so they must know much more than the duped “giant” (taxpayers). As stated by Neil Postman, author, “If you reduce the communication of truth instead of the dissemination of knowledge, you get a 30 second commercial to evoke emotion.” The taxpayers’ emotions are being manipulated to hide the facts.
The Council will ask the goose who lays the golden eggs to give more eggs to fill the City coffers in the form of new taxes. It is just a few, one or two solid gold eggs, or just a few dollars. In the meantime, the City Council, during this dire financial crisis, has not used this money wisely; instead choosing to build pickle ball courts, contribute to bike races, and hire early, sworn police & fire officers, into the Tier 2 versus improved Tier 3 pension system. Of course “Jack” is only thinking of Prescott’s .75% tax increase, (tax increase number one). Yavapai County Board of Supervisors are talking about a new jail (tax increase number two), Yavapai County College is “trying” to prevent a tax increase this year (tax increase number three), the County has its own PSPRS liability problem (tax increase number four), and the Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority announced its PSPRS problems and under CYFD & CVFS has taxing authority (tax increase number five). Maybe all of these groups will not increase taxes this year, but it is coming. Not mentioned, is the possible property tax increase next year for the county, and a statewide .6% to 1% sales tax increase.
With knowledge, this “giant” (taxpayer) cannot be duped anymore. Taxpayers need to make a stand and demand a solution. They need to insist local officials, as Mayor Oberg has suggested, reach out to other municipalities, Flagstaff, Bisbee, etc., and petition Governor Ducey and the legislature to deliver a solution for this state wide problem. Representatives Noel Campbell and David Stringer have been empowered by Speaker Mesnard to form an ad hoc committee to investigate, report, and recommend solutions for this problem. Taxpayers need to actively participate in these meetings, contact their legislators to help find solutions. Taxpayers need to grab an ax, chop down the beanstalk and protect their goose before it is cooked.