Even though Casa Grande has a beautiful new Community Recreation Center, some of its major new buildings are old enough that the city has paid down much of its debt. That means the secondary tax rate is falling considerably this year, giving the City Council an option of raising the primary rate enough to make a dent in what it owes for public safety pensions: $48 million over a period of years.
As we have said before, Arizona has been dealing with this issue for years, and state law has made it difficult to fix because it has limited the reforms that could be made. However, that is beginning to happen.
Regardless of what the council decides, a state limitation means property owners still will get a significant tax cut because of the amount the secondary rate is falling. That is a nice situation, although $48 million will take a long time to pay off.
Casa Grande leaders are in a much better position than those in many other places, where pension debt is out of control. States like Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California have tapped taxpayers time and again, and many of those people have decided to leave. However, choice coastal areas always seem to have wealthy people who are willing to pay more.
Some cities have gone bankrupt, and some states are on the edge of insolvency. When that happens, pensioners and bond holders fight to see who should take the greater loss. The future is likely to have more of those battles.
In the meantime, Arizonans are generally thinking in a more responsible way about the future. What interferes with that most is when public employees have too much power with elected officials, something that is not so common here as it is elsewhere.
Thinking about the future is something Casa Grande’s leaders have been good at over the years, and it is nice to see that is still the case.