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6/5/2014 6:00:00 AM
Spending plan calls for 2-cent tax boost
Moss opposed; Watson calls hike an 'adjustment'

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - While Mohave County staff presented a balanced budget Monday for 2014-15 with no change in the property tax rate, they recommended the Mohave County Board of Supervisors consider a two-cent per $100 increase in the levy rate to fund new initiatives not covered in that budget.

The recommendation drew swift response from several supervisors, including Steve Moss, District 5, who said he would not support a property tax increase under any circumstances. But Gary Watson, District 1, countered by saying the two-cent change is really an adjustment to the rate, not an increase.

Watson said that even with the adjustment, the county would be only holding its own with the same dollar amount from this year to next year because of a continuing drop in assessed valuation. Mohave County Financial Services Director John Timko, who presented the budget, agreed.

"What you're saying is correct," said Timko. "A rate increase from $1.81 to $1.83 would generate revenue to support these projects but would still generate less tax collected by the county by $450,000 from what we're collecting this year. So a tax decrease would still occur, even with a two-cent adjustment on the rate."

Timko said maintaining the current levy rate for 2014-15 would result in a $793,000 reduction in revenue. The county's levy rate is $1.81 per $100, and a two-cent increase for the upcoming fiscal year would raise taxes $20 annually on a house valued at $100,000. The increase would still apply if assessed valuation in the county eventually goes up.

"This definitely is something we debate every year, and this year is going to be no different," said Chairwoman Hildy Angius, District 2. "The argument we always go through is that it's not really a property tax rate increase but then again, yes it is."

The new initiatives, costing a total of $334,327, include the county funding 50 percent of health insurance increases, or $152,000, that was passed on to employees this year, and reclassifying dispatchers in the Mohave County Sheriff's Office for $59,862. It also would include $16,687 to create a lead deputy position and reclassify officers in the Mohave County Probation Department.

Also, the county would reclassify Mohave County Procurement Department employees for $13,830 and approve a new secretary for increased dependency cases at $42,335 in the Mohave County Legal Defender's Office. And the extra money would bring in a new office clerk and attorney for the Mohave County Public Defender's Office for $33,908, as well as reclassify a legal advocate there for $15,705.

The balanced budget comes despite the fact that the assessed valuation for the county has decreased 31.8 percent over the past five years. It dropped from $2.5 billion in 2009 to an estimated $1.7 billion in 2014. The biggest decrease came in 2011, with a 16.75 percent drop in assessed value to $1.9 billion.

"It is simply incredible that from the years 2009 to 2014, we've seen a 31.8 percent decrease in our evaluations," said Watson. "I hope we have reached the end of this and the scenario won't continue any longer. I realize how difficult it has been for the departments and elected officials to come forth with this budget, knowing that at some point down the road, we'll be facing an adjustment to the tax rate."

Timko said that to balance the budget, departments were instructed to submit base budgets with no increases from the general fund. New initiatives and capital equipment requests were restricted to those legally mandated, necessary for life and safety reasons or that could be funded by offsetting reductions in other areas of the departments' budgets.

Other determining factors in preparing the budget, said Timko, are expenses from the general election this year, which will cost $545,000. Also, the county will pay off its administration building on July 1, resulting in about $612,000 in additional general fund expenses for operation, maintenance and utilities that had previously been paid through lease payments.

On a brighter side, said Timko, a modest increase in retail sales during 2013-14 allows the county to expect an increase of $219,000 in state shares sales tax revenues. And fee income generated by the county's departments will bring an increase of about $444,000, he said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 7, 2014
Article comment by: L J

This board as with previous BOS continue to ignore the real problems we in the community face every day. No jobs, high proverty, crime, drugs,etc. Until these issues are
addressed it's ludicrous to even consider a tax increase what ever words they use to describe it. Bottom line more
money out of each of our pockets.the BOS needs to stop there want's for new buildings and focus on the needs of us the people they were elected to represent.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: True Disbeliever

I bet the well over $200,000.00 that the County spent on private property at the Yellow Pine Ranch in the Hualapais would go a long way to get rid of the 2 cent proposed tax. Oh, but maybe that was paid for with HURF funds. Illegal, yes it is but who cares. Someone needs to get a grip on the County's spending. How about it Board of Supervisors? Help your constituents for a change.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Byrne

It is time for the County to cut back on expenses just like the rest of have had to. I no longer live at the level that I did in the past and one of the reason is fees and taxes. I know that I am one of many adjusting to inflation and higher costs. The government at all levels should be doing the same and not forcing the taxpayers to fund the County's unending excesses. One of many examples are the overly fancy new County buildings.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Money well spent

Is it possible that you could raise my taxes and boost my tax rate? I do not mind paying more for the quality of management that I am receiving from my county government. Protect me from the evil mexican grey wolf.

I was going to bid on the Arnold Plaza at the next monthly "Arnold Plaza Auction" but I fear that I may not be able to afford the taxes with my new tax adjustment.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Mohave County Economics

Wow, I was concerned for a second that you were going to raise my taxes but thankfully you are only considering raising my tax levy rate? So if I understand correctly, I was going to see a reduction in my taxes this year but you want to keep them the same. Then when my assessed value goes up, I will pay more taxes than I do today.... but it won’t be because of your stupid increase in tax levy rate.

"This definitely is something we debate every year, and this year is going to be no different," said Chairwoman Hildy Angius, District 2. Ummmm, OK. What are you comparing this too, your one other year in office?

Need ideas on where to cut expenditures?

How many engineers does it take to study a fish hatchery?

How many engineers, lobbyists, risk managers, and supervisors does it take to study a horse trail?

Oh, and quit building new buildings.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: H Q

Not this time Watson. Call it what you like, bottom line the wells dry! Property values are down, taxes go down. What part of that don't you understand? The board needs to stop
granting tax appeals to there friends & buddies.As for insurance we're dealing with our own increase with less coverage.being middle class were broke paying for the poor & politicans wants! When we moved here we thought
this was a conservative County that's a joke.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

Did I not call it or not? You had to see it coming, you're fools if you didn't.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

I'd really like an explanation of what "reclassifying" means? Is that a pay raise/promotion by another name?

I have no issue with a percentage increase since it will still be a decrease in the amount paid (to maintain current operations) as long as there is wording that says when property values go back up, the percentage adjusts accordingly. Of course, I know there won't be, since that probably violates some statute.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: hold still, and let me

Yeah, looking at buying another home, this time in BHC, and noticing the 15 separate taxes attached to mortgages here. But the real story here is that the proposed tax increase is to cover Obamacare's premiums for city employees, and because the federal government required banks to write insane home loans which provided the setting from which our illustrious bankers threaded this crap into opaque derivatives. I know it's not always popular at the Miner's web forum to delve into an issue's complexities, but there it is.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: NO WAY!

We are already taxed to death- NO TAX INCREASES!

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: It's Always About Connections & Self-Interest when it comes to the County

well the county can start off saving big on hiring a new sheriff.

and another way of bringing in more revenue would be to change the assessment on "agricultural" enterprises. You know the type that Gentleman Rhodes has set up in Golden Valley and Red Lake since property tax rates are a heck of a lot smaller than property set up for a subdivision. Of course we don't really expect any change to come about on agricultural property taxes since at least one BOS members has their property under such an assessment.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Must be time to replace those 40K SUV's again.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Harrison

I read the article wrong. Sorry

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Harrison

Another tax increase and every time we ask Watson for assistance we get nothing. Good ole Watson.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: justanobody sr

how stupid do the supervisors think people are?
and increase is an increase! to call it anything else is just stupid.
looks like we need to vote OUT some of the dumber supervisors!

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: No Increase

This is quite ironic. I believe Watson was on the City Council when they did away with City property tax.

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