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Prescott: City can’t afford to give hotshots full-time benefits

PHOENIX — The city of Prescott said Wednesday it cannot afford to posthumously award full-time benefits to 13 hotshots.

The city said that granting the hotshots — who were considered part-time employees — benefits on par with those who are permanent employees would cost the city at least $51 million over 60 years, meaning annual payouts would be between $800,000 and $900,000.

Annual payouts would be dependent on annual budgets and would be non-binding, meaning it would be subject to challenges under Arizona’s “Gift Clause” prohibition.

If the city were to pay the families in one lump sum, it would cost about $24 million, three times the budget of the Prescott Fire Department.

The city has an operating budget of $30.7 million and 69 percent of that goes to public safety.

Prescott said it will not deny benefits that the hotshots were eligible for and is working with the families.