First Tucson, Then Prescott, Now Flagstaff – PSPRS’ Problems Affect Us All

Our northern friends are watching for Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System pension reform-
Flagstaff, Coconino County team up
February 05, 2014  •  SUZANNE ADAMS-OCKRASSA

The Flagstaff City Council and the Coconino County Board of Supervisors have agreed to join forces on a number of issues before the Arizona Legislature and U.S. Congress. 

The two government boards held a joint workshop Monday afternoon in the Flagstaff City Council chambers.

Restoring Highway User Revenue Funds to local governments and preventing future sweeps of the fund are among the legislative topics both boards are investigating at the state level. The money is collected by the state from gas and license plate taxes and disbursed to local governments based on a formula that involves the population of an area. Local governments use the money to repair roads.

The Legislature has swept money from the fund for the past several years and used it to support the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Coconino County Government Relations Director Joanne Keene told the boards that Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed budget for FY2015 continues the sweeps.

There is support in the Legislature to end the sweeps, she said.

Also on the list of funds the county wants back is money from the county assistance fund that the state has dipped into in the last few years.

The county was also looking at the effect on the county’s finances of a recent state requirement that counties pay for at least 50 percent of the cost to house violent sexual offenders in the state hospital, Keene said.

The county is also working with other counties and with Arizona Rep. Karen Fann on a bill that would allow local governments to ban the sale of fireworks after stage one fire restrictions had been announced for an area, she said.

State law currently allows cities and counties to prohibit the use of fireworks within their limits, but does not ban the sale of fireworks.

The county is also trying to get some sales tax revenue from federal concessionaires, Keene said. The federal concessionaires, such as the ones in Grand Canyon National Park, are not required to pay state or local sales taxes.

“This is an inequity to local businesses that do pay taxes to our school districts,” said District 3 Supervisor Matt Ryan.

On the Flagstaff side, Deputy City Manager Jerene Watson said that Brewer’s proposed budget included a one-time appropriation of up to $34 million statewide that localities could use to secure matching grants to replace some of the lost HURF funds.

The city was also working with the League of Cities and Towns on a plan to allocate funds to protect forest health in the area, she said.

Also on the city’s legislative watch list were bills dealing with public pension reform, dark skies, Arizona Department of Transportation right-of-way issues, integrating the state and local sales tax systems, and the creation of energy districts.

City Manager Kevin Burke described some of the issues the city is working on at the federal level, including getting reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for work on the Schultz Flooding project, transportation funding, funding for the Rio de Flag flood control project, protection of water resources, and the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport.


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