A discussion by the Mohave County Supervisors Monday about clamping down on spending on their offices and expense accounts evolved into mudslinging between Supervisors Jim Zaborsky and Buster Johnson.
Zaborksy said a new policy was needed because Johnson has the largest budget of the three supervisors and billed the county for questionable expenses, including numerous meals and a trip to Rocky Point, Mexico, in which Johnson had used a county vehicle and stayed in a resort hotel.
Johnson responded by reading an 11-page, typewritten prepared statement in which he accused Zaborsky of seeking a "payback."
Contacted after the meeting, Johnson said, "You show me one thing put on the agenda by Zaborsky that was not directed at me.
Nothing was gained today.
All it has done is open up more wounds."
Zaborsky held firm.
After Johnson finished reading the statement, Zaborsky said, "If you want to take off the gloves, let's take off the gloves."
Over Johnson's objections, Zaborsky and Supervisor Carol Anderson voted to approve a policy that calls for the supervisors to place on the consent agendas of their meetings all travel-related spending in which supervisors sought to be reimbursed.
Each supervisor also will need approval in advance before going on major out-of-state trips and must submit receipts of all expenses.
Supervisors who violate the new policy will have to pay the expenses out of their own pockets, Zaborsky said.
Under the existing policy, the county reimburses supervisors for expenses if at least one other supervisor authorizes those expenses.
Zaborsky placed the item on the agenda two months after the Miner and other newspapers reported on Johnson's spending for travel, meals and other items.
The Miner reported that Johnson has the largest budget, at $122,235, of any of the three supervisors for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001.
Johnson also billed the county for $18,656 in credit card expenses in a billing period from June 30, 1999, through Aug.
31, 2000, the largest of the three supervisors, the Miner reported.
Zaborsky said that in the past he did not question how other supervisors billed the county, but had a change of heart after reviewing Johnson's budget and spending and considering the county's financial plight.
He cited pay raises Johnson paid to his staff that are higher than raises that Zaborsky and Anderson granted their employees.
Johnson responded by reading the statement in which he attacked Zaborsky's motives, behind-the-scenes actions and voting record.
"In the nearly four years that I have sat on this board I have rarely taken advantage of the numerous opportunities to engage in this kind of personal attack that my colleague has resorted to because I was more interested in serious issues that needed to be addressed over that time such as covering the loss of $1 million on the public fiduciary case or absorbing the sun-setting of the Sheriff's override without raising taxes," Johnson said.
Zaborsky responded by urging Johnson, the only supervisor to seek re-election, to take more responsibility for his own votes.
"I'll stand my budget up to yours anytime," Zaborsky said.
He also criticized Johnson for opposing raises for employees during the previous fiscal year.
Besides attacking Zaborsky, Johnson criticized Anderson for allowing her staff to write letters attacking her board peers, as well as for spending a lot of time digging up his expense account records.
Anderson said her aide, Manny Esquibel, wrote two letters as a "private citizen," and described Johnson's expense accounts as being a matter of public record.