Column: Mohave in better shape than other AZ counties

Dear Mohave County Residents:

Thank you for your support over my two terms in office. I have lived most of my life in the Kingman and Peach Springs areas and I know many of you personally. We have worked well together in improving our communities and meeting the challenges of the last eight years. During that time, there has been a lot of progress in Mohave County, and it is you, the people, who deserve the credit.

You have brought your concerns to me, offered your expertise on issues and, yes, you have challenged me. Thank you. Through your input and insight, I have attempted to bring the Board of Supervisors to consensus on issues of importance to our communities.

When we started, eight years ago, this county was broke. All the taxpayers' money had been spent on "special projects." We had no contingency fund in case of a natural or terrorist-attack disaster. More than $7 million had been overspent in the previous four years, by no fault of the previous District 1 supervisor. All that money had been spent under the guise that it would all come back in extra tax revenue.

In 2001, we looked at the numbers and, even over a 40-year period, there was no way we would ever get a return of that money.

With your support, we made changes in our fiscal policy. We started spending only what we took in. We got lean and mean. We said "no" to things we didn't need and "yes" to good things. We paid off the prior board's debts and created a contingency fund. We did some restructuring with the departments and gave county employees the respect they earned.

Those changes took us out of debt, allowed us to replace crumbling county facilities with quality buildings designed to serve well into the new century, and improved employee morale and productivity.

Overall, I believe we are in better shape than any county in Arizona. We have weathered some rough times, and more may come along, but this county government can still take care of those things that need to be handled.

Along with all of you, I also want to thank Dist. 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell for his fiscally wise leadership and County Manager Ron Walker for his courage and ethical standards. Clerk of the Board Barbara Bracken has done a wonderful job of managing the mandated bureaucratic flow of this government's progress.

And we all certainly appreciate Finance Director John Timko's stewardship of the county's wallet.

I applaud all the great work of Sheriff Tom Sheahan, County Attorney Matt Smith, Public Defender Dana Hlavac and our judges and their staffs in protecting the public and seeing that justice is done. Health Director Patty Mead, Community and Economic Director Susie Parel Duranceau, Planning and Zoning Director Chris Ballard, Superintendent of Schools Mike File and Public Works Director Mike Hendrix and their departments all do wonderful work for the people of Mohave County.

It's the employees of Mohave County who have carried out the great progress that residents have sought. This county has the best employees of any county in Arizona.

Although we may have different opinions on individual issues, I believe we have all come together for many, many things that continue to benefit our communities. I hope we can all stick together and give a lot of support to incoming-Supervisor Gary Watson and Sockwell to allow this county to continue to be a healthy organization.

As I look forward to my retirement, my wife, Patty, and I want to thank everyone for all the support and assistance you have given me over the years.