Speak Up! - 07/13/06

Letters to the Editor

County does not ‘play’ with tax dollars

I would like to point out what I consider an editorial-page headline with a strong bias that appeared on the front page of your publication June 14: “County has $275M to play with.” We at the county do not “play” with public funds. We take our fiscal responsibility very seriously.

We had no problem with Jennifer Bartlett’s article or the smaller headline: “Supervisors start work on 2006-07 budget with meeting Friday.” They were factual. It’s only the large, bold slap-in-the-face headline that basically equates our fiscal efforts with a kindergarten sandbox that we find offensive.

Our $275 million budget includes capital expenditures and a variety of accounts in the Treasurer’s Office that we won’t spend and many more that we can’t spend. Much of these funds are grants, other district’s funds and amounts not derived from property taxes. The dollar signs readers should be interested in are in the general fund. Bartlett accurately pointed out the 2006-2007 general fund is under $90 million, of which close to $10 million is set aside for projected contingency. That leaves less than $80 million to fund Mohave County services, personnel, insurance and expenses. Of that amount, barely $24 million comes from property tax.

We applaud the Miner for being fair and balanced in its coverage of county news and news in general. We appreciate the coverage written by Ms. Bartlett and other Miner reporters. And we are sure the questioned headline was not purposely written to convey a bias. But perception is important. With all the misinformation being spread by activists concerning tax and service issues, we want to make sure facts are available without incorrect labeling. A news headline that conceivably brands county employees as people who “play” with public funds is not factual and no service to readers.

John Timko,

Mohave County finance director