Guest view on the Let Oro Valley Excel Blog by Mayor Joe Winfield on May 31, 2022
Last year your Council voted 7-0 to solve the $27.6M of underfunded police pension debt by transferring $10M from reserves, and bonding $17.6M at 2.4% interest. We accepted the recommendation of consultant Stiffel, Town Manager Mary Jacobs, Town Finance Director David Gephart, and the Budget and Finance Commission.
The OVPD police pensions are now fully funded, the Town’s investment is projected to save up to $30M over the life of the bond, and we will save $700,000 this year. In essence, we replaced a $27.6M debt growing over 7% each year with a $17.6M bond at 2.4% interest.
My opponent, a benefactor of the now fully funded police pension, did nothing either as police chief or as acting town manager while this debt grew. [chart above] Further, he still advocates doing nothing, and “kicking the can down the road”. Were we to follow his course of inaction the police pension debt at a 7% expected return would double in 10 years to $56M, and in 20 years to $112M.
I would like to commend Pima County for placing a $300M bond and Golder Ranch Fire District for placing a $28M bond to fix their police and fire pension debt. These actions like ours will protect Oro Valley property owners from future tax increases from these two property taxing authorities to “bail out “ county and fire district unfunded but obligated pension debt. In all, 27 Arizona municipalities and fire districts wisely chose to pay down public safety pension debt by using low interest bonding.
Fully funding the pensions that our sworn officers and staff have earned protecting us is our obligation, and a way to show that we appreciate their success in making Oro Valley the safest town in Arizona.