Troubled fire district on supervisors' agenda
8/1/2013 6:00:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors will get an update Monday on the situation surrounding the financially troubled Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District.
The county hired District Administrator John Flynn in February after the fire district's entire board of directors resigned because the district found itself unable to pay its employees in January or the $450,000 line of credit from a previous administration.
"The district dug themselves a really deep hole. It'll take a while to dig back out of it with the state of the economy, but we're making progress," Flynn said.
A decrease in property values over the last three years, the need to respond to calls outside its boundaries and the large amount of untaxed state and federal land in the district hit it hard.
The district gets most of its income from property taxes levied against residents who live inside its 144-square-mile service area, which includes Meadview and Dolan Springs. It also collects some income from its ambulance service.
The federal government does give states a payment in lieu of taxes, which the state splits among the various county governments.
The district's budgets, which are posted on its website, state that the district expected to take in $1.4 million in revenue this year from property taxes, ambulance service fees and subscription fees from residents who live outside its boundaries.
By the end of December 2012, the district had spent nearly all of the tax revenue it had collected and was asking the Mohave County Treasurer's Office to increase its line of credit in order to keep operating until tax bills were collected again in the spring.
A lot of the district's resources were used on responding to accidents outside of its boundaries on U.S. 93. The district is not required by law to respond to these emergencies, but it's the closest emergency aid available. Unfortunately, the district doesn't always get compensated for these types of calls.
In other business, the Board is scheduled to approve the $273 million 2014 budget, which includes a 2.5 percent pay raise for some county employees, two new deputies for the Arizona Strip area in northern Mohave County, 12 new correctional officers for the jail, repairs to the Kingman Animal Shelter and 55 mobile cell units that will allow deputies to connect directly with headquarters while on the road.
It also includes money to cover an increase in medical cost for jail inmates, a remodeling of the Lake Havasu City Superior Court building to accommodate a new judge and additional funds to cover any overages for outside defense attorneys.
The 2.5 percent raise for county employees is expected to cost the county's general fund approximately $947,832. County employees haven't had a raise since the Board froze wages in 2007. The raise would only apply to employees who have been with the county for at least six months and had a satisfactory rating on their last employee review.
At the same time, the Board will not increase property taxes, which means the county will take a $573,000 hit in tax revenue due to falling property values, according to County Finance Director John Timko.
The Board meets at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale St.