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8:17 PM Sat, Dec. 15th

Wolves, finances confront Mohave County leaders

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is still trying to determine the best way to fight the federal government's plan to expand the territory of the Mexican gray wolf, deal with a fire district that is in financial trouble, find replacements for another fire district's governing board and help a water company struggling to pay its back property taxes.

The Board will discuss a report from staff on various approaches on Monday.

The Board has opposed the expansion of the wolf's territory in the state, which would include a swath of land between Interstate 40 and Interstate 10.

According to county staff, some options include:

• Signing on to the federal government's study as a cooperating agency. This would allow the Board a stronger seat at the table with the federal government.

• Hold out for a "coordinating" agency status. According to staff, this designation does not actually exist in the federal government's impact study program.

• Hire a consultant to represent the county.

•Piggyback onto work already completed by other counties opposing the expansion of the wolf's territory.

• Lobby state and federal representatives for support.

• Adopt local ordinances to show the federal government the county means business. Other counties who have done this haven't gotten many results.

The Board will also have an update on the situation with the Lake Mohave Rancho Fire District. The district board of directors turned over control of the district to the county after the district found itself unable to pay its employees or a $450,000 line of credit due to Wells Fargo Bank.

The Board appointed an administrator, John Flynn, to oversee the district and get it back on its feet. At a Board meeting in August, district residents voiced concerns about Flynn's decision to cut staffing to the bare bones in order to make the district solvent.

Flynn said he understood the community's concerns but pointed out that the majority of the district's costs were due to labor.

The Board will also formalize an agreement with the Desert Hills Fire Department to appoint an administrator to run that district after two board members resigned, leaving the board without a quorum.

The Board will also discuss how to deal with a request from the Mt. Tipton Water Company to lower the interest rate on its delinquent property taxes.

According to information provided to the Board, the company owes more than $185,000 in back property taxes to the county.

In a letter to the Board, the company said the overdue taxes date back to a different board of directors who did not manage the company properly.

The current board of directors has tried to get a rate increase from the Arizona Corporation Commission to cover the back taxes, but has been refused. It has also tried to sell a commercial building it has, but has been unable to find a buyer.

The Board will also discuss renovating or building a new office for the county medical examiner.

According to staff, it would cost approximately $1.3 million to build a new building for an office that is similar in size to Yavapai County's medical examiner office, more than $1 million to refurbish the county's old traffic building to house the office and more than $1 million to lease and refurbish an office building.

It would also cost the county more than $838,000 to bring all of the medical examiner's services in-house. The county currently spends around $567,000 on a contract with an outside medical professional for the services.

The Board meets at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale St.

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