$300K will meet Mohave County needs, not go to nonprofits

Supervisor agrees to ditch plan to contract with nonprofits

KINGMAN - Mohave County District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss originally wanted to use $300,000 from the county's share of state lottery funds to support contracts with local nonprofit organizations.

But County Finance Director John Timko said the money should be used to cover a shortfall in jail costs and a possible shortfall in attorney costs for indigent defendants in the courts, and Moss agreed.

"I'd like to withdraw my request for two reasons. One, there's no funding for it that's available. Two, there seems to be a misconception that this is going to be a straight grant as opposed to a contract for services," he said.

Moss said his intent was to contract for crime victim services with local nonprofits.

The county was not expecting to get its $550,000 share of lottery funds this year from the state and the money was not included in the tentative budget the Board approved Monday. Earlier this year, the Arizona Legislature had designated the county a "metropolitan" area based on its population. Reps. Doris Goodale, Sonny Borrelli and Sen. Kelli Ward fought the bill and were able to protect Mohave County's share of the proceeds.

Moss wanted to use $200,000 of the money to pay for two new sheriff's deputies for the Colorado City area and split the remaining $300,000 among three nonprofit entities that help crime victims in each of the three major cities.

During the Board's discussion of the budget, Timko suggested that the county use the money to cover a $91,000 shortfall in the budget for medical services for jail inmates and save the remaining $459,000 to cover any excess costs in the county's indigent defense fund. The indigent defense fund pays for outside attorneys to represent defendants who cannot afford their own attorney and who cannot be represented by the Mohave County Legal Defender and Public Defender's offices due to conflicts of interest.

Last fiscal year, the county had to transfer an extra $900,000 into the indigent defense fund because of the Darrel Ketchner capital murder case, Timko said. He expects the county to face additional legal bills because of an appeal in the case.

"I don't believe it's my place to take the public's money and give it to any nonprofit organization," said District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton. "The people have the choice to do that. I don't think that's appropriate."

District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius agreed.

"It's my view that to give county money, public money, to nonprofits is not only bad principle and bad precedent, but it's unconstitutional," she said.

Moss said that his suggestion was not designed as a gift for local nonprofits but as a way of contracting for services.

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