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Budget short, but Mohave County officials vow: No new taxes

KINGMAN - The budget process for the next fiscal year is just getting started and two Mohave County supervisors are looking for ways to fill possible budget holes without raising taxes.

The topic came up during Monday's Kingman Republican Men's Club meeting. Club president Dr. Laurence Schiff asked District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius and District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss what the county planned to do with the $380,000 it had saved when the Board of Supervisors eliminated the four deputy county manager positions.

The money would probably go to filling any budget holes, Moss said.

"Assessed values for proprieties have dipped again," he said. "The savings may go to filling those holes so we can avoid raising taxes."

"We're just starting the budget process. It's going to take some time to get a handle on it. So I can't say what (is going to happen). Everyone saw this coming and everyone is making their case, everyone wants more money," Angius said.

Moss couldn't give an exact figure for the dip in revenues, stating that the county hasn't started the budget process yet and he wasn't comfortable throwing out figures.

How deep the budget hole may be is still unknown. County finance director John Timko declined to comment on what might be in store for the county's 2014 budget.

County officials typically start holding budget hearings with department heads in March. A preliminary budget is usually presented to the Board of Supervisors in June. A final budget must be approved by the Board by Aug. 1.

Last year, the county budgeted for around $77 million in expenses and around $32 million in property tax revenue and an estimated $42 million from other revenue sources.

That budget included a $2 million decrease in the amount of revenue the county took in and additional funding swept by the state to pay for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, county employee retirement funds and funding for two new supervisors offices. The county had to sweep around $900,000 from its special taxing districts in order to help fill the hole. The county also continued its hiring and wage freeze, which has been in place since 2007.

Assessed property values lag about a year and half behind the actual market value of a property. The idea is to protect revenues from drastic swings in the property market.

Former Arizona Rep. Nancy McLain pointed out that the state's revenues are also about two years behind current property values and the county could expect a hit in state shared revenue this year as well.

"I made a vow not to raise taxes and I plan to keep it," Angius said.


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