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7/8/2013 6:00:00 AM
Value of Mohave County TV tax district mulled by supervisors
All property owners pay for service used by unknown number of county residents
Hildy Angius
Hildy Angius

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors may pull the plug on the county's TV taxing district.

District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius questioned the district's purpose during the Board's discussion of property tax rates last week.

The district was created in 1983 and pays for the upkeep of 12 to 13 TV towers scattered across the county that boost the signals from Phoenix and Las Vegas TV stations, said Yvonne Orr, who is in charge of the district for the county. The district charges property owners $0.0867 per $100 of assessed value.

"There are many people in the county that depend on this system for state and nationwide news. It may also be the only dependable means to convey emergency information to some people," she said.

"Have we ever done a survey to see how many people use this?" Angius asked.

"There's no real means to measure viewers," Orr said.

The closest estimate she could make was that more than 27,000 people filed for coupons for free digital TV converter boxes from the federal government. But that doesn't cover all households, she said. Some people have more than one TV set and others have newer TVs that can handle the digital signal without a converter box.

Board Chairman Gary Watson asked how much the towers and equipment were worth.

Orr estimated a $1.8 million value and pointed out that the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and other local and state law enforcement agencies use the towers for communications between their officers.

Angius said she planned to vote for the tax rate but wanted county staff to consider putting the issue out to the voters.

"In this day and age when people do have access to cable and satellite and all of that - I do understand that people use it, but again, is that our job?" Angius asked. "Actually, I would like to put that out to the voters. Is that something that voters feel is important enough to have on their tax bill? I don't think it's the government's job to provide people with TV signals."

"I have a problem with cutting those people off," said District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton. A few months back one of the towers near Chloride went down and she received three phone calls from residents asking when the signal would return.

"One elderly lady told me that was her only link to the outside world," Brotherton said. "When I moved here, with three children, I couldn't afford cable. Our only source of TV was those free channels."

Golden Valley resident Steven Robinson asked why the county had such a large "surplus." He said the fund had $8.5 million that was swept from the fund last year to help pay off the debt the county owned on the county jail and that the fund currently had around $2.5 million in it.

According to county budget records, the county budgeted $9.4 million for the district in fiscal year 2013. It spent $6.8 million. Most of that money, around $6.1 million, was transferred to the county's debt payoff fund, which is used to pay down debt on capitol improvement projects for the county, such as buildings. The county carried over around $2.9 million in the fund to fiscal year 2014.

In 2012, the Arizona Legislature gave local governments the authority to sweep money from other funds in order to cover their expenses. The idea was to give local governments more flexibility in covering deficits created by the state sweeping money from the Highway User Revenue Fund that cities and counties use to repair roads.

The "surplus" in the fund was built up over five years in order to help pay for the change in equipment from analog to digital signal, Orr said.

Robinson also asked why the county decided to go to a high-definition digital signal instead of a standard-definition digital signal.

The county was told by its lawyers in Washington D.C. that it needed to install high definition digital equipment, Orr explained.

"I think Hildy has the correct approach. I think this should be researched by staff," said District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss.

The Board unanimously approved the tax rate with the condition that staff research the matter.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Just another

Hildy you are on the right track! Just stick with it,

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Just another

Miniscule? Really? You must work for the County, When a fund takes in so much that the money is used for other things it is time to reduce the rate. I say lower it now not approve it and look into it later! How hard is it to run the numbers and see what the rate should be and lower it now? Things get swept under the rug such as the whole life insurance mess we have not had an update there? As far as Hildy not taking a car she is probably reimbursed somehow don't ya think?

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Article comment by: Mr ED

Ask yourself this ?
What are the must carry rules for cable and satellite if the plug is pulled ?

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Article comment by: Follow the Money

@H Q,
You are absolute right with everything in your post. Nothing about this makes any sense. As for Brotherton, follow the money. I wonder if it is any coincidence that the Trahan's donated to her election campaign. Just saying.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Allan Gleason

My satellite signal costs me about $1,000 per year. Two families, extended relatives of mine, have incomes below poverty (about 10K each). One relative is over fifty years of age and the other couple is over eighty. So there is no "running to mommy" for help! Neither family can afford cable or satellite TV... Perhaps the county would consider subsidizing them!

I recall years ago the people in California voted to outlaw cable TV because they feared that TV would become too expensive for many citizens and that the people needed "free" TV for both news and entertainment. The proposition was rendered unconstitutional by the courts so cable TV was enabled and we've been paying ever since.

If Kingman would provide its own means of communicating to the people by radio and TV, perhaps Phoenix news and entertainment would not be needed, but such is not the case. All we have here is country music and right wing propaganda on the radio. The KDM does the best it can with limited support. The people deserve more, not less!

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

I depend on the free signals for our TV. I can't understand how we can give away a million plus to nonprofits but then threaten to shut down a life line to the poor. Our tax rate needs to be reduced. management wages and the number of managers need to be cut. Any monies being paid to any to any county employee or any company that they are involved in, that is not payroll should be immediately cut and investigated as fraud. To much public money going out to county employees through side businesses.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: N A

Hildy Angius is right, it's not governments job to provide TV signal to residents, why do some people think that government should be solution for everything. Why do you think that we have been the best nation on earth with freedom? that's because our government didn't used to be in our lives, at the rate we are going some day just about everything is going to be run by government, at that point you have to do what ever government says, because there won't be any competition.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Jay Fleming

Some of us can't afford cable TV.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Ralph Chandless

[Comment deleted for excessive length.]

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Frederick Williams

Hi Hildy, There is a saying that goes "if it ain't broke don't fix it"

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Signed Contract

Hildy. Ok you signed a new contract. What was the amount? Where does the excess go? How about transparency? Since you know the cost how about making it public, in print. Don't make us go searching. Put the numbers out there.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: My Vote is to Keep it

Hildy, since you asked for Miner readers input - keep the over-the-air option. One of the big advantages is it allows us to get Vegas' news. Kingman is more linked to Vegas than Phoenix yet the cable and satellite refuse to carry the Vegas channels.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: What's Fair is Fair

Hey, Al, the developer of the grocery store can pony up the cost. I don't live in GV and unless the county puts up the money to put a grocery store on Hualapai Mt Rd forget asking the rest of us to pay for GV.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Curious Minds Want to Know

Hildy raises some good questions. A survey could be put in the property tax bills and/or on the county web page. No these methods aren't perfect but they could give some idea of how many agree to pay 9 cents for it. 9 cents, folks. For me it's worth 9 cents.

My question is what's the extent of Orr's benefit from this? Sorry, but I have been in this area too long not to be suspicious - remember the sweetheart deal on the library rental?

What did it's lawyer in Mohave County say? He's the one that should know? What are we paying him for if his office isn't advising the county on legal issues?

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Moderately Independent

One more thing...

Before making any decisions or putting this issue before an uninformed electorate I think the BOS and "staff" need to be completely aware of any and all federal regulations regarding OTA (over the air) television signals and the maintainance of the equipment to provide the citizenry with public free broadcasts.

Remember when the switch from analog to digital was deeemed necessary it was a mandate from the Bush administration...Federal Law.

If you Hildy, or others feel that it's "not the government's job to provide people with TV signals", I suggest you look into the history of TV further. Perhaps you are a bit too young to remember that all TV came OTA when there was no such thing as cable or satellite. You may also be forgetting that there is such a thing as the Emergency Broadcasting System that operates on our OTA television and radio airwaves.
Please educate yourselves BOS, and hopefully the electorate will be educated as well IF this issue ever comes to a vote.

Perhaps Moss may use his "expertise" as an attorney to research any legal ramifications that the county may face if it decides not to maintain the TV towers, etc...could save some "staff" time and taxpayer dollars.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Feduciary Responsibility

How is it that these politicians and administrators can take money from a tax district and spend it ANY way they want? If these people were bankers, brokers or other money manager in the private sector they would be in prison. Part of their oath of office needs to hold them accountable. TV money goes to a new building, highway funds go to new buildings. Who's the contractor?

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Moderately Independent

Hildy, I think you and the other supervisors need to really give this issue some serious thought. You and they, as well as the constiuents that donate to your campaigns and socialize with you may well be able to afford cable or satellite but I sincerely hope you all realize that you are supervisors in a rather "poor" county and many of your constiuents cannot afford those luxuries.

You may not hear a lot from the people who rely on free TV since they may not be the most vocal group, or may not even know how to be vocal about this situation. I sincerely hope you and the other supervisors take this fact into consideration when debating this issue.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: We The People{me} Thinking

So creating and building infrastructure in a town is now consider socialism by some of you--WOW critical thinking sure has fallen and really bump it's head.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Common Sense

The government has no business worrying about whether anyone has TV. People live without it all the time. It is not a right! If you want TV, look at all the options and decide if it is worth it to you and call the company you feel will give you the best value. Don't expect someone else to pay for something you want just because you want it. If you feel that way, go back to Mommy's and Daddy's and sponge off them.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: H Q

Little confused. Yvonne Orr said many in the County depend on the system, but when Hildy Angius asked her if a survey to determine how many use it her reply was there no real means to measure it? How then can she say many in the County use it? As for Brotherton she's just part of the old statute que. We agree with Hildy let us the voters decide.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Long Time Kingmanite

Thank you Hildy for asking the question. I personally have no objection to paying the tax for this service, members of my family use the service, and if cable or other methods become cost prohibitive, I will too. However, my objection to this district for many years is the amount of tax collected. The district should only be collecting what is needed to operate the district, not so much that the County can "sweep" the funds to pay for other items such as the debt. Let that item be a separate part of the taxation process.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

It's not a miniscule amount when it can grow to over $8M.

Should there be a tax district to cover maintenance and repairs...absolutely. And thats exactly what the funds should be used for...and only that.

If my math is right...I pay about $80 or so a year. I don't mind paying for the maintenance and repair contract...but I sure don't want to pay into a slush fund for the BOS.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Nick Schmidt

We watch channel 8 PBS via free
antenna signal and donate. The
audio signal is not the best.
It's an outright scandal that you must subscribe for a bundle of 200 commercial channels for tons of money and still you are forced to push the mute button all the time during ads.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew


“Allocate money for infrastructure in Golden Valley so we can get a grocery store please. Or, put that to a vote too.”

Nope! You wanted to live out there with no amenities, so there you go! Deal with it ‘cause I ain’t gonna support building squat for you!

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: joker wilde

Taxpayers also foot the bill for a large fleet of computers in county libraries. Should we get rid of those, too?
Or for that matter, maybe close libraries altogether and patronize used book stores.
No one in our family goes to school/college in Mohave County, so should we stop paying the portion for those entities on our property tax bill?
I almost never drive on North Bank so why should part of my tax dollars go to "improve" it?
And so on ... leave the tax alone. It's a miniscule amount and yet it goes so far.

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