But there’s hope.
That’s the shorthand summary of the impact of the underfunding of the state’s retirement system for police officers and firefighters, which remains in crisis despite recent reforms. That means almost every fire department, police force and sheriff’s office will need a big taxpayer bailout.
As a result, Gila County owes an extra $12.5 million to the retirement system — more than 10 percent of its annual operating budget.
Payson owes a whopping $13 million for the police department and $6.6 million for the fire department, according to figures from the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).
Nearly every town and fire district in the region owes a similar debt — some much larger relative to their budgets. So the Pine-Strawberry Fire District owes $4.7 million; Hellsgate Fire owes $1.4 million; the Christopher Creek Fire District owes just $75,000.