A recent change by the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority means savings for residents in Sun City West.
The fire authority’s governing board agreed to refinance the organization’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System pension debt, creating a projected benefit for all the Arizona Fire & Medical service areas of approximately $22.72 million over 23 years, which will help to ensure the financial future of the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority.
“Over the last several years, it became clear that our financial future was at stake if we did not quickly take action to address the authority’s PSPRS liabilities,” said Robert Biscoe, Arizona Fire & Medical Authority fire chief. “The Authority governing board’s unanimous action shows a clear commitment to our firefighters and the communities who rely on the essential emergency services they provide. Refinancing the previously unfunded PSPRS liability provides the Authority with significant projected savings and a clear path forward financially.”
According to authority officials, there was unfunded pension debt of approximately $32 million, which was accumulating interest at 7.3%. Last month, the organization priced certificates of participation to refinance what they call a shortfall and was able to get an interest rate of 2.906%.
David Wilson, Arizona Fire & Medical Authority governing board chairman, said this move addressed the largest financial liability for the organization during the next 23 years. It ensures the payment structure will remain in place for firefighter retirements and taxpayers, such as Sun City West residents and the other service areas a savings of more than $22 million.
“On behalf of the entire governing board, I want to thank the authority staff who pulled together this amazing effort in an incredibly short time frame.” Wilson said.
Fire districts began looking into refinancing pension debt using the certificates of participation following changes in Arizona law. Arizona Fire & Medical Authority staff worked with financial experts, including Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. as the underwriter and Phoenix law firm Greenburg Traurig LLP as counsel to assist with developing the plan and selling the certificate of participation.
“We had an amazing team working on the refinancing, and I want to thank them for the hundreds of hours of hard work to meet our governing board’s pension funding goals,” Biscoe said. “Their hard work will assist in stabilizing the Authority’s financial future for generations to come.”
The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority provides fire suppression and emergency medical care to the residents of Sun Lakes, Sun City West, Wittmann, Coldwater Ranch, Corte Bella, Cross River, Dos Rios, Pinnacle Peak County Island, Rancho Silverado, Rio Sierra and Tonopah. This includes approximately 75,000 residents, led by full-time and part-time fire and emergency medical service personnel, as well as administrative and support staff. There are also more than 50 active resident volunteers involved with the Fire Corps.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.